Nov 10

Floating Above the Fray: ETHER DOME

Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company
By Elizabeth Egloff
Directed by Michael Wilson

Oct. 17 – Nov. 23rd
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston) The biopic or docudrama is a mainstay of the flatscreen and the silver screen, but it doesn’t get nearly as much play on stage. In theory, it should, as these types of stories appeal to those who want to learn something while they are being entertained, and that would seem to include the well-educated who can afford to go to the theatre on a regular basis. But even Shakespeare’s straight-up docudramas, the Henrys and such, don’t do as much business as Romeo and Juliet or Much Ado About Nothing. Continue reading

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Nov 04

Halloween Leftovers: CANNIBAL – THE MUSICAL

Photos Courtesy of Erik Fox

Photos Courtesy of Erik Fox. Trappers gotta trap.

Presented by Arts After Hours
Written by Trey Parker of South Park
Directed by Corey Jackson
Music Direction by Mario Cruz
Choreography by Nicole Spirito

October 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, 29. 30 31, and November 1st at 8PM.
October 19, 26 at 3PM
LynnArts Rantoul Black Box
25 Exchange Street
Lynn, MA
Arts After Hours on Facebook

Review by

(Lynn, MA) When college academics look back at the body of work of Trey Parker, co-creator of South Park, I can only assume they will look at his early script for Cannibal – The Musical as a sign of his future potential. The script, which was a senior project while Parker was at the University of Colorado – Boulder, reads much like one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays”, with moments of brilliance, some car-crash-worthy attempts at brilliance, and a lot of head-scratching mediocrity. It presents a comedic challenge to any who attempt it. Arts After Hours embraces this challenge with enthusiasm, and hits many of the high-notes of comedy teed up by Parker, but misses a few others. Continue reading

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Aug 25

Banish John Falstaff: Henry the 4th

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Presented by Theater@First
A New Adaption of William Shakespeare’s Histories
Directed by Shelley MacAskill

August 21st – 30th
Unity Somerville
6 William Street, Somerville
Theatre@First on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Somerville) Shakespeare’s histories can be problematic to bring to the stage. In these plays, the usual issues of Shakespearean verse and thick language are compounded with cinematic scope, characters sometimes too big to be readily believable, and all kinds of crazy epic battle scenes. Compounding two histories into one doubles the trouble. Henry the 4th is a conflation of the two parts of Henry IV relying mostly upon part 1 with some of the more salient and dramatic moments of part 2 tacked onto the play’s end. Continue reading

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Jul 23

Hub Theatre’s Shakespeare Crowd-Pleaser: “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)”

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Presented by Hub Theatre Company of Boston
by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield
Directed by Lauren Elias

July 18 – August 2, 2014
Club Café
209 Columbus Ave
Boston, MA

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston) The working hypothesis for The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) appears to be this: when at his most serious, the Bard is the most unintentionally hilarious. It’s darkly comic, in a way, that a pair of lovers would die passionately together despite knowing each other for a few days. And there’s something ridiculous about a prince putting off the assassination of the uncle who stole his crown because he doesn’t believe the ghost of his father. In Hub Theatre Company’s take on the parody, Patrick Curran, Adam Lauver (alternating with Will Moore), and Brooks Reeves seek to both compress and skewer Shakespeare’s body of work. Continue reading

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Jul 15

Go Big or Go Home: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

The Cast. Photo found on It’s A Fiasco Facebook page.

It’s a Fiasco Theatre Company
by William Shakespeare
Sponsored by the City of Cambridge and the Cambridge Arts Council – presented under the auspices of the Actors’ Equity Association Member’s Project Code.

June 19 – 29, 2014
Longfellow Park, 175 Mt. Auburn Street
Cambridge, MA
It’s A Fiasco on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

Think for a moment of the conditions under which Shakespeare was performed in the Elizabethan era and you realize this play was never meant to be locked away in an ivory tower. At the time the words of these plays were fresh, so was the concept of public sanitation. Most of the population was illiterate, and probably a good amount of them shared their skin with some form of vermin. Even in the hallowed halls of royal theater, the patrons probably stank to high heaven and air conditioning was a couple of centuries from being invented. So if at first glance it seems incongruous to speak some of the English language’s best poetry next to a Cambridge water park, it might be best to remember this probably would have been considered a pretty gentile staging grounds back in the day. Continue reading

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Jun 10

Securing the Myth-ing Link: GIDEON’S KNOT

Presented by Bridge Repertory Theater
By Johnna Adams
Directed by Karen MacDonald

June 5 – 22, 2014
the Boston Center for the Arts
Stanford Calderwood Pavilion
Boston, MA
Bridge Rep on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger Warnings: Graphic depiction of rape and violence, controversial and political arguments, full-body hugging

“Turn him to any cause of policy,
The Gordian Knot of it he will unloose,
Familiar as his garter”
(Shakespeare, Henry V, Act 1 Scene 1. 45–47)

(Boston) Alexander the Great is famous for marching through Asia and Africa in the name of Greece when he was 18 years old. He was a merciless conqueror and much of his work shaped the known BCE world. According to popular myth, in 333 BCE Alexander was shown a intricate knot in tying a chariot to a pole left by the sloppy founder of the city of Gordium. It was foretold that only the future ruler of Asia could untie the knot. Alexander, being the sensitive and thoughtful boy he wasn’t, instead hacked through the knot with his sword. Earlier versions of the myth imply Alexander first tries cunning to sort out the mess but eventually uses the pointy end of a sword to solve the riddle. These are the origins of the term “cutting the Gordian Knot.” It has come to mean using creative measures (cheating) in order to solve an convoluted problem. Continue reading

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Jun 02

A Robust Spectacle: THE TEMPEST

Photo: The Smith Center/Geri Kodey

Photo: The Smith Center/Geri Kodey

Presented by the American Repertory Theatre
By William Shakespeare
Adapted and Directed by Aaron Posner and Teller
Magic by Teller
Songs by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan
Choreography by Matt Kent, Pilobolus
Magic Design by Johnny Thompson
Magic Engineering and Construction by Thom Rubino
Music Direction and Arrangements by Shaina Taub

May 11th – June 15th
Cambridge, MA

Reviews by Craig Idlebrook and Clara Idlebrook

(Editorial note – Reviewer Craig Idlebrook attended The Tempest with his family. The American Repertory Theatre asked that he include his 8-year-old daughter’s take on the show. Clara Idlebrook’s review appears below Craig’s.)

Craig’s Take:

There is something so delicious about watching artists at work who have mastered their craft enough to disregard public opinion and create something exquisitely weird. American Repertory Theatre’s staging of the Tempest feels like a transcendent late-night jam session between William Shakespeare, veteran magician Teller, and musical sabotage specialists Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan. You could picture this production being a traveling troupe’s one-shot staging done during a layover, and someone happened to hit the record button on an iPhone. Continue reading

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Jun 02

Over-the-Top Big Top: Cirque du Soleil’s “Amaluna”

Presented by Cirque du Soleil
Created by Guy Laliberté, Gilles Ste-Croix, Fernand Rainville
Directed by Diane Paulus
Composed and music directed by Bob & Bill (Guy Dubuc and Marc Lessard)
Choreographed by Karole Armitage
Acrobatic choreographers Debra Brown & Caitlan Maggs
“Sanddornbalance” Act by Rigolo Swiss Nouveau Cirque

May 30 – July 6, 2014
Boston Marine Industrial Park on the Waterfront
Boston, MA
Amaluna on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

Lightly adapting the The Tempest and playing fast and loose with source materials of multiples mythologies, Amaluna patches together dreamy images and circus acts into one, outlandish show. It’s energetic and fittingly over-the-top. Cirque du Soleil has an image to maintain as a thoroughly extravagant circus and they continue this grand tradition by marrying the flashiness of Las Vegas to a syrupy storyline. Continue reading

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Apr 29

Richly Developed Heroines: BECOMING CUBA

Presented by Huntington Theatre Co
Written by Huntington Playwright-in-Residence Melinda Lopez
Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara

March 28 – May 3, 2014
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
Huntington Co on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston) Becoming Cuba at the Huntington Theatre is about blood origins. It is about the effect blood-ties have on our decisions, and the indirect way our origins affect the world around us. Specifically, it is about sisters Adele (Christina Pumariega) and Martina (Rebecca Soler) who run a pharmacie in Spanish-occupied Cuba. Adele attempts to remain neutral as war threatens the country she loves: her family fights in the rebellion; her husband died fighting for Spain. As Adele cares for the people of Havana, she comes to understand that loyalty is a complex beast. Love and loyalty can be divided while still remaining whole. Continue reading

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Apr 28

Make ’em Laugh: “The Complete History of Comedy (abridged)”

­­­Michael Faulkner and Dominic Conti of the Reduced Shakespeare Company; Photos by Meghan MooreMichael Faulkner and Dominic Conti of the Reduced Shakespeare Company; Photos by Meghan Moore

Presented by The Reduced Shakespeare Company
Written and Directed by Reed Martin and Astin Tichenor

April 24th – May 18th, 2014
Merrimack Repertory Theatre
50 East Merrimack Street, Lowell MA
The Reduced Shakespeare Company on Facebook
Merrimack Repertory Theatre on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Lowell) The Reduced Shakespeare Company have long been proprietors of abridged histories and this touring production of The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) will deliver everything that you expect from the boys at the RSC: a three-man team dishing out biting satire, poignant historical and social commentary, and a dude in a really bad wig. Continue reading

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