(Boston) Happy Medium Theatre and writer T. Scott Barsotti embrace the American gothic tradition with enthusiasm in Brewed. It’s a fully fleshed-out horror story with the bones of a family melodrama, a violent reaction to the ties that bind blood siblings. The whose story is a creepy creature and a bleakly humorous outing for the Halloween season. Continue reading →
(Lowell) It is frustrating to see a craftsman like playwright John Kolvenbach run rings around pedestrian writers. His play Half n’ Half n’ Half shows that he understands how a play functions on a deep level and that he could write in any genre he chooses, from The Seagull to Lend Me a Tenor. Kolvenbach toys with the audience in several genres with this comedy, while demonstrating his near-mastery of them all. This is more than an exercise in play writing, however. Throughout this script of multiple plays, Kolvenbach is able to document how a lifetime romantic commitment often drives us to need to be committed. Continue reading →
(Cambridge, MA) Norm Lewis and Audra McDonald bring soul to American Repertory Theatre’s production of The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. The couple struggles to hold onto their love in the midst of danger and strife. Although minor changes have been made to the operetta, the integrity of the original piece remains intact. Continue reading →
Less than a week after Elizabeth Taylor’s death, what story could be more apropos than the tumultuous romance of two artists? Jason Robert Brown’s chamber musical about the conflict marriage and career examines the fallout of two people who meet in the middle but remain apart. New Rep’s production of The Last Five Years delivers two masterful performances to a faulty libretto.
Brooke Hardman as Imogen and De'Lon Grant as Posthumous; photo by Stratton McCrady, c 2011
Reviewed by Becca Kidwell
This is why I love theatre. No sets. No real props (except musical instruments). Plain white clothing. All that is left is the artists and the words. Cymbeline, one of Shakespeare’s final plays, is rarely staged because of its meandering plots and complicated relationships (for a detailed plot summary, go to SparkNotes—really, it’s not cheating); Actors’ Shakespeare Project not only takes on the challenge, but performs the play possibly better than even Shakespeare could have envisioned it.
This phenomenally talented cast of seven takes the multiple plot twists and numerous characters and creates a cohesive and pleasurable fable for adults. Continue reading →
Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune is a difficult play to stage. The tight, witty, intelligent romance by Terrence McNally requires a comparable production that will not fall flat; New Repertory Theatre’s current production rises to the challenge.
A two-person play needs two strong actors. Anne Gottlieb and Robert Pemberton deliver beyond expectations. Not only are they strong individual actors, but they also thrive as a couple. While Terrence McNally has said that the play is a “romantic fairytale”, the play would not hold an audience’s attention if it was not grounded in genuine, believable characters. As Robert Pemberton speaks every line, his eyes reveal the sincerity of his heart. Over the span of one night, Johnny’s profession of love could seem ludicrous, even threatening—except for the fact that this Johnny is truly sincere and truly loves Frankie. Ann Gottlieb walks the delicate line between being fragile and resilient. If she does not display strength, the character of Johnny would crush her; at the same time, the character of Frankie has been hurt and the vulnerability still has to be there to create the tension. As Frankie, Gottlieb has found this balance so that the character can hold her own against Johnny, but still fear the pain of heartbreak. Gottlieb and Pemberton completely draw the audience in to Frankie and Johnny’s struggle where one can’t help but fight with them for the connection to something that can last. They ARE Frankie and Johnny—trying to be more than just a couple of “bodies bumping around in the night”. Continue reading →