Oct 28

“Brewed”: Happy Medium Stirs the Pot

Credit: Debut Cinematic/Karen Ladany

Presented by Happy Medium Theatre Company
By T. Scott Barsotti
Directed by Mikey DiLoreto

October 24th-November 2nd, 2013
The Factory Theater
Boston, MA
Happy Medium on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(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

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Dec 17

Enduring Marriage: HALF N’ HALF N’ HALF

Carol Halstead, Zoë Winters, Andrew Pastides and Jim Ortlieb. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Carol Halstead, Zoë Winters, Andrew Pastides and Jim Ortlieb. Photo by Meghan Moore.

by John Kolvenbach
directed by Kyle Fabel

Merrimack Repertory Theatre
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
November 29th – December 23rd, 2012
Merrimack Repertory Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(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

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Sep 02

Porgy and Bess Still Has Soul

Photo by Michael J. Lutch

 

The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess by George and Ira Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, adapted by Suzan-Lori Parks and Diedre L. Murray, American Repertory Theatre, Loeb Drama Center, 8/17/11-10/2/11.  http://www.americanrepertorytheater.org/events/show/gershwins-porgy-and-bess.   Mature themes.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(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

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Apr 02

The Last Five Years: Tempestuous Love

(left to right) Aimee Doherty and Mark Linehan in The Last Five Years. Photo by Christopher McKenzie.

The Last Five Years, written and composed by Jason Robert Brown, New Repertory Theatre, 3/27/11-4/17/11, http://newrep.org/last_five.php.

by Becca Kidwell

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.

Aimee Doherty shows her versatility going Continue reading

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Feb 13

CYMBELINE: such stuff as dreams are made on

Cymbeline by William Shakespeare, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, 2/9/11-2/20/11, part of THE WINTER FESTIVAL (also playing:  The Hotel Nepenthe by John Kuntz, 2/23/11-3/6/11; and Living in Exile by Jon Lipsky, 3/9/11-3/20/11)  http://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/season7/winter_festival.html

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

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Nov 30

Love in the Moonlight

(front to back) Anne Gottlieb (Frankie) and Robert Pemberton (Johnny) in FRANKIE AND JOHNNY IN THE CLAIR DE LUNE. Photo by Christopher McKenzie.

Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune by Terrence McNally, New Repertory Theatre, 11/28/10-12/19/10.  Nudity and Mature Themeshttp://newrep.org/frankie_johnny.php

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

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

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