Mar 22

Loves, Losses and Transformations: “The Raft”

Curtis and Bellingham

Presented by Club Passim
Written by Rebecca Bellingham
Music by Catie Curtis
With special guest Rose Polanzani

Live and Streamed: April 20, 2022
Club Passim
47 Palmer St
Cambridge, MA 02138

Review by Maegan Clearwood

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The marketing language for the musical The Raft likens Rebecca Bellingham’s writing process to piecing together a tapestry: 25-years’ worth of threads, from journal entries to emails to text messages, woven into a singular, sprawling story. But the more-or-less finished product, presented as a workshop reading at Club Passim, feels more like a quilt: distinct stories from two distinct lives that aren’t so much intertwined as they are lovingly stitched at the seams. Continue reading

Mar 08

Strange and a Little Bit Lonely: “This Bitter Earth”


Presented by TheatreWorks Hartford
By Harrison David Rivers
Directed by David Mendizábal
Fight and intimacy direction by Rocío Mendez
Digital playbill

Live on stage: February 16 – March 20
Streaming: March 7-20
TheaterWorks Inc
233 Pearl Street
Hartford, CT 06103
TWH on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Content warning: This Bitter Earth contains partial nudity as well as mature language and themes.

STREAMING ONLINE — This is a review for the pre-recorded, streamed version of This Bitter Earth.

Relationships are hard work. The kind of work a relationship requires depends upon the people in it. As the white person in a biracial relationship, you either educate yourself to understand the experiences of your partner of color, or you lose them. Your partner will either love you back by meeting you halfway with patience and sympathy, or they will lose you. 

This Bitter Earth is the first play that I’ve seen in my ten years as a critic to specifically, comprehensively address the complex issues of a modern biracial relationship. Other plays have broached the subject; none have been as successful as This Bitter Earth. Continue reading

Mar 02

Writing for the Moms the World Ignored: “Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End”

Karen MacDonald. My parents have that end table. Photo by Megpix/Meghan Moore

Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End
Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Allison Engel and Margaret Engel
Based on the life and works of Erma Bombeck
Directed by Terry Berliner
Original music by Brett Macias
Filmmaker: Kathy Wittman
Featuring Karen MacDonald

FEB 24-MAR 13, 2022
Simultaneously Live and Streaming
Hall/Lowell Memorial Auditorium
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852
MRT on Facebook 

Approximate run time: 80 minutes, no intermission

Review by Kitty Drexel

Lowell, Mass. — Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End is a serviceable, inoffensive one-woman show about humorist Erma Bombeck. Folks who remember Bombeck will enjoy the show. 

People who enjoy the work of Karen MacDonald will also enjoy the show. MacDonald is delightful. Thanks to her work with director Terry Berliner, MacDonald dominates the stage like she lives there. Continue reading

Feb 05

Lead Me On to the Light: “The Bluest Eye” at The Huntington

The cast in The Huntington’s production of The Bluest Eye by Lydia R. Diamond; Photo by T Charles Erickson.

Presented by The Huntington 
Based on the American classic novel by Toni Morrison
Written by Lydia R. Diamond
Directed by Awoye Timpo
Choreography by Kurt Douglas
Music direction by David Freeman Coleman
Original music by Justin Ellington 
Dramaturgy by Sandy Alexandre 
Intimacy direction by Ayshia Mackie-Stephenson

January 28 – March 13, 2022
Digital access available through March 27, 2022
ASL-INTERPRETED PERFORMANCE: Friday, February 11 at 8pm.
OPEN CAPTIONED PERFORMANCE: Tuesday, February 15 at 7:30pm.
AUDIO-DESCRIBED PERFORMANCE: Saturday, February 26 at 2pm
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
The Huntington on Facebook

The Bluest Eye plays in approximately one hour and 40 minutes with no intermission.

Content warning: every kind of violence amidst a Black community

Critique by Kitty Drexel

“Coming together in a circle to tell a story is essential to our humanity. That’s what we’re inviting the community into with The Bluest Eye.” – Director Awoye Timpo

Boston, MA — The synopsis for The Bluest Eye would have a newcomer believe that the play is about unattainable, western i.e. colonialist beauty standards. It is, but The Bluest Eye is about much more. 

Pecola Breedlove (Hadar Busia-Singleton) has come to stay with Claudia (Brittany-Laurelle) and Freida (Alexandria King). We learn through Claudia’s narration all about the Breedloves.  Mrs. Breedlove (McKenzie Frye, who tears the roof off in her role) and Mr. Cholly Breedlove (Greg Alverez Reid) are scarred from growing up in the Midwest. 

Through an examination of their stories, we come to understand Pecola and why she dreams of having blue eyes. Ramona Lisa Alexander,  Brian D. Coats and Lindsley Howard round out the cast. The cast is excellent together and individually in their own right.
Continue reading

Jan 25

Poverty is Expensive: Rattlestick’s “Addressless”

A screen grab from “Addressless.” The cast discusses their options.

Presented by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater
Community partnered with Urban Pathways, Community Access
Adapted from
STEREO AKT‘s and Lifeboat Unit’s Hungarian production of Addressless.
Created & directed by Martin Boross
Written by Jonathan Payne
Script consultants: Hope Beaver, Cassie Desalines, Shams DaBaron aka “Da Homeless Hero”
Video editing by Matthew Russell
Graphics & animation by Maiko Kikuchi
Streaming technician: Keenan Hurley
Featuring: Joey Auzenne, Hope Beaver, Shams DaBaron a.k.a. “Da Homeless Hero,” & Bianca Norwood

Thursday, January 13 – Sunday, February 13, 2022
Presented over Zoom
Tickets
Digital Program
Rattlestick on Facebook

Content warnings: Addressless discusses at length issues faced by the unhoused community such addiction and sobriety, bigotry, sex trafficking, shame, government benefits programs, and other forms of abuse. This show can be intense. It may not be appropriate for children under 12. 

Critique by Kitty Drexel

ZOOM — Addressless is heart-breakingly honest digital theatre. If you’re looking for something to take you out of the monotony of COVID-living, creators Boross and Payne have a solution for you. Their two-hour, interactive, roleplaying theatre game is a reminder that life’s struggles don’t end just because there’s a pandemic at your door. 

This production begins like any other over Zoom: the host invites attendees in, we wait patiently for the show to start. Addressless is slightly different because it asks attendees to fill out a survey via a link in the chat. The survey asks participants personal questions about their identity, financial situation, and if they’ve ever been unhoused. Have you lived on the streets? For how long?  Continue reading

Jan 10

A Lot to Unpack: Guerilla Opera’s “Rumpelstiltskin”

Presented by Guerilla Opera 
Based on the tale by the Brothers Grimm
Composed by Marti Epstein
Libretto by Marti Epstein and Greg Smucker
Shadow puppetry animation and direction by Deniz Khateri
Conducted by Jeffrey Means
Featuring the Guerilla Opera Ensemble

Premiere date/Reviewed on January 7, 2022
Via Parma Live Stage

Upcoming: 
Rumpelstiltskin Studio Album & Release Party
January 14 at 7:30
An Online Event
Album is available on Navona Records

Review by Kitty Drexel

ONLINE — On January 7, Guerilla Opera held an online viewing party to premiere their short opera Rumpelstiltskin on Parma Live Stage. Rumpelstiltskin will be presented again at the album’s release party on January 14, 7:30 PM. The album will be available on Navona Records. 

Composer Marti Epstein and Guerilla Opera retell the Brothers Grimm Rumpelstiltskin story with some updates for their opera. Rumpelstiltskin (Aliana de la Guardia), a human man with magical abilities, is now portrayed as a sympathetic character according to Epstein’s “Note from the Composer” available on the Navona Records website. The opera explains Rumpelstiltskin’s desire for a child and elaborates on his single-minded obsession with obtaining one: unconditional love.  Continue reading

Dec 29

You Don’t Have to Understand Your Queer Family to Love Your Queer Family: “The Rise and Fall of Holly Fudge”

Rehearsal for “The Rise and Fall of Holly Fudge.” Photo by Meghan Moore/Megpix

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Trista Baldwin
Directed by Courtney Sale
Cast: Kristian Espiritu, Karen MacDonald, Eliza Simpson, Milicent Wright

Now – January 4, 2022
Video on Demand via Mandolin.com
MRT Playbill 
MRT on Facebook

Age Recommendation: 14 and older. Some adult content/language.

Review by Kitty Drexel

Video-On-Demand — The copious productions of The Christmas Carol that come around every year are for mainstream Christmas celebrators. The Rise and Fall of Holly Fudge is a Christmas production for the rest of us. It’s intersectionality feminist. It passes the Bechdel Test. It’s under two hours, and you can drink rum-nog the entire time from your own home. Cheers! 

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house… Carol (New England darling Karen MacDonald) was stirring because her daughter Holly (Kristian Espiritu) was finally coming home to Brockton, Mass.! This year Holly is bringing her special friend Jordan (Eliza Martin Simpson). Worlds, politics, and identities collide when Holly reveals to Carol that Jordan is more than just her Jewish, progressive liberal friend from Portland.

Milicent Wright plays the online Zumba cueing, comestible baking, excellent listener and BFF neighbor Chris. I would take Zumba class with Chris/Millicent any day. She seems fun.  Continue reading

Aug 19

Resign yourself to the influence of the Earth: “Walden”

Gabriel Brown, Diana Oh, and Jenna Yi | Photo: Christopher Capozziello

TheaterWorks Hartford, in partnership with Riverfront Recapture
By Amy Berryman
Directed by Mei Ann Teo
Set Design by You-Shin Chen 
Lighting Design by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew
Sound Design by Hao Bai
Costume Designer by Alice Tavener
Playbill is HERE

In-person performances, Tuesday–Sunday at 8pm, now through August 29, 2021. 
100 Meadow Road
Windsor, CT
Streaming, August 15 — 29, 2021
TheatreWorks Hartford on social media: @TWHartford

Critique by Kitty Drexel

HARTFORD, Conn. — TheatreWorks Hartford, in partnership with Riverfront Recapture, presents Amy Berryman’s Walden. It is a play about estranged twin sisters who must reconcile their differing political beliefs with their need to remain connected in a world devastated by humanity-induced climate change. 

In-person performances for Walden continue now through August 29. Walden streams August 15 – 29. Check the tickets website for in-person, at home, or pop-up streaming options. 

Here is the summary from the TheatreWorks website: “In Walden, after returning from a year-long Moon mission, Cassie (Jeena Yi), a NASA botanist, finds herself in a remote cabin in the woods, where her estranged twin sister, Stella (Diana Oh), a former NASA architect, has found a new life with climate activist Bryan (Gabriel Brown). Old wounds resurface as the sisters attempt to pick up the pieces of the rivalry that broke them apart.” Continue reading

Jun 04

Donate Now so Theatre Can Exist Later: “Songs for A New World”

The soloists from “Songs for A New World.”

Songs For A New World, A Performance to Benefit SpeakEasy Stage
Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company
Music & lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Directed by Paul Daigneault
Music directed by Jose Delgado
Cast includes Rashed Alnuaimi, Laura Marie Duncan, Jennifer Ellis, Dwayne P. Mitchell, Davron Monroe, Mikayla Myers, Rebekah Robles, Alexander Tan, and Victor Carrillo Tracey
The program is HERE

May 26 – June 8, 2021
Streaming to your Device
Tickets  
SpeakEasy on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

STREAMING — SpeakEasy stage had two COVID compliance officers, and a testing coordinator. OccMed provided health services to the Song for A New World Team and Viracor Eurofins Clinical Diagnostics was their COVID testing provider. A disclaimer that COVID safety protocols were followed during rehearsals and recording of this fundraiser. Continue reading

Feb 11

Protect Yourself as Needed: ArtsEmerson Presents”Julia”

Presented by ArtsEmerson 
Director: Christiane Jatahy
Adaptation of Miss Julie by August Strindberg
Performed by: Julia Bernat and Rodrigo de Odé
Performed in the film: Tatiana Tiburcio
Music: Rodrigo Marçal
Photography: David Pacheco
Camera Live: Paulo Camacho
Video Technician: Felipe Norkus
In Portuguese with English subtitles

Virtual Event – On-Demand Viewing
Pick Your Price
Get Tickets 
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Ages 18+, Performance contains mature content, nudity, and intense sexual situations with an implied minor

This is the warning under an arrow on ArtsEmerson’s Julia page

“We understand that certain types of content could trigger past traumatic experiences for some viewers. Please be aware that this production contains scenes depicting sexual violence, racialized verbal abuse, racial slurs, allusions to suicide, and animal cruelty.”

This warning should not be hidden to the side. It should be somewhere obvious so no one will miss it. 

ON-DEMAND  — I’ve been recovering from PTSD triggered by Julia since watching ArtsEmerson’s premiere on Tuesday. Actions in the play depict violent sexual relations between two consenting individuals. I am a survivor of sexual violence, but I’ve never been triggered by a theatrical production to a degree like this before. I thought I was okay to watch Julia. I was wrong. Survivors, please protect yourself. 

I’m not special; many women are survivors of violence. We must factor potential violence into our everyday decisions to protect ourselves from further harm. We never know if we’re being too cautious or not cautious enough. We learn from a young age – through the malevolent actions of others or by making irrevocable mistakes – that we must take special care not to be caught off guard. Julia is the visual, multimedia story of a young woman as she learns this lesson the hard way.  Continue reading