Theater Review

Steady As She Goes

Navigator in Love
Written by Lasha Bugadze
Directed by Adam Knight
Presented by Red Lab Productions and Otar Margania
at Teatro Circulo, NYC
July 13-August 6, 2017

Playwright Lasha Bugadze makes the idea of needing some direction in life very literal in Navigator in Love, part of the Georgian-American Theatrical Feast taking place now through early August in Manhattan. The world premiere of Navigator, which won the 2012 BCC World Drama Award for Best International Play, in a translation by Maya Kiasashvili is one of an array of events that make up the festival, the aim of which is to introduce American audiences to nine playwrights from Georgia, a country of four million that is described in the program as lying "at the crossroads of Europe and Asia." This celebration of Georgia and its venerable cultural history and vibrant contemporary theatrical community includes two full productions, free readings, and special events with wine and music. (See www.redlabproductions.org for a full schedule.) Read more »

Musicals That Want More

Fun Home
5th Avenue Theare, Seattle
Through July 30th

When it comes to Broadway-caliber theatre productions, cities like Seattle get what New York is willing to give them. Very often this means local audiences only get a taste of the most mainstream, spectacular efforts the Great White Way has to offer, remaining unexposed to the more challenging and innovative works that do sometimes still happen there. As a result, theatre (particularly musical theatre) is relegated to its niche enclave of dedicated fans along with a wider audience of casual theatre goers who come knowing what to expect. While presenting an enjoyable way to pass a few evening hours this can also bear a disappointing stamp of mediocrity. Fun Home, currently playing at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre, is a happy exception to this trend. Read more »

For He Who Does Not Rock, We Salute You!

Me The People: The Trump America Musical
Triad Theater, NYC
June 24th through....

If you hate Trump like I hate Trump and you have the urge to smash your TV to smithereens every time you see his orange headed smirk, or hurl your phone into the river every time you read one of his tweets - DON'T DO IT!!!!!!! Go see Me The People instead!!!! Me The People is a laugh-out-loud-funny satirical revue at the Triad Theater on the Upper West Side and I guarantee it will turn your Trump loathing howls of presidential pain that have you hiding under the covers into Trump loathing howls of cathartic laughter that will have you rolling in the aisles. Four supremely talented cast members and one hard-working pianist skewer everything from shredding the Constitution (literally) to the Supremes to Russian Spies to Mar-a-Lago to Melania to Korea to Putin to chocolate cake to climate change to the prospect of post-impeachment president Mike Pence vowing to fix you if you're gay. Read more »

Watch Out For That Lava Flow!

The Floor is Lava
Written by Alex Riad
Directed by Jessica O'Hara Baker
Presented by The Farm Theater at Flamboyán Theater, NYC
June 15-July 8, 2017

The Floor is Lava, the new play from Washington Heights playwright and screenwriter Alex Riad, is part of the 2017 Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, a socially- and environmentally-conscious festival whose productions choose non-profit organizations to benefit. The Floor is Lava benefits Girls Who Code, an organization that is dedicated to closing the vast gender gap in the technology industry and that currently serves 40,000 girls nationwide.

The Floor is Lava (debuting, coincidentally, at the same time that the children's game for which it is named has become the most recent social media "challenge") takes place in the basement of Tom (Ian Poake), one of those seemingly ubiquitous young white males with a billion-dollar app startup at an incredibly young age and a Mark Zuckerberg-inspired fashion sense. Read more »

The Urgency of Indecent Art: Paula Vogel on Love, Creation and Injustice

Paula Vogel’s “Indecent” is many things: an idiosyncratic mix of music, memory and theater magic; a female take on an infamous male intellectual; a Holocaust parable that manages to surprise; a lesbian love story both lyrical and consumed with lust; a provocative piece of found history that holds up an eerie mirror to our times. The Pulitzer-winning playwright, author of more than a dozen distinctive works, has been talking to countless audiences about her first show to land on Broadway human -- separately discovered the same censored story. Vogel spoke with me a few days before the Tonys, which she planned to attend as a Best Play nominee.

Is it strange to be where you are now? Are you surprised to be on Broadway?

I find it just a continuation of what I’ve been doing. It’s like going from Rhode Island to Texas -- the roads are the same, and the people are lovely, just everything’s a slightly larger scale. Read more »

Some Feminist HERstory

Lou
Written by Haley Rice
Directed by Kate Moore Heaney
Presented by Theatre 4the People at The Paradise Factory, NYC
May 19-June 3, 2017

Quickly: how many of you have heard of Sigmund Freud? Now, how many of you have heard of Lou Salomé? It might surprise many audience members to see Salomé using Freud’s own psychoanalytic techniques on him late in Haley Rice’s new play Lou, but that is part of the point. Directed with an all-female cast by Kate Moore Heaney, Lou operates, to a large degree, in the genre of feminist reclamation, bringing attention to significant women unfairly elided by history. Much like The Other Mozart, which stopped in New York last fall to shine its spotlight on Wolfgang’s talented sister, Maria Anna, Rice’s play focuses on an exceptional woman lost over time in the shadows of the famous men with whom she lived and worked. Read more »

Indecent!

Indecent
Cort Theatre, NYC

Indecent is a strange play. It's like getting a gorgeously wrapped package and finding something insubstantial and vaguely disturbing inside the box.

The packaging of Indecent includes fantastic direction from Rebecca Taichman, engaging writing from Paula Vogel and a near-perfect ensemble of performers. But once you get past the seduction of the production, you have to wonder why so much talent was lavished on what is no more than a historical theatrical footnote. Read more »

And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little

Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Zindel's gynocentric drama in fact unfolds place over the course of a Friday evening in 1968, within the apartment of the Reardon sisters in Zindel's native Staten Island. Chemistry teacher Anna Reardon (Amanda Jones) has taken the death of the sisters' mother particularly hard and, when the play begins, is medicated and has missed several days of work, where she has committed a legally and ethically serious indiscretion. Assistant Principal Catherine Reardon (Heather E. Cunningham), who lives with Anna, is attempting to deal with her sister's fixation on death, including an insistent embrace of vegetarianism, with the aid of copious amounts of both sarcasm and alcohol. Catherine has invited the third and only married Reardon sister, Board of Education Superintendent Ceil (Sara Thigpen), to dinner, inviting also all of the sisters' old grudges and new tensions into an evening further complicated when Fleur (Rebecca Holt), a guidance counselor, and her businessman husband Bob (Christopher Borg) drop by on their way to a night out. Read more »

Who To Believe...?

The Conspiracists
Written and directed by Max Baker
Presented by Stable Cable Lab Co. at IRT Theater, NYC
April 22-May 7, 2017

Max Baker's new play, The Conspiracists, happens to be making its debut alongside widespread media coverage of the custody trial of toxic conspiracy monger Alex Jones, during which a lawyer for Jones argued that his on-air persona is merely performance art (a claim later disputed by his on-air persona). Many took this defense as a clear admission that he knowingly spreads lies for profit, but at least one writer has claimed that performing a character does not necessarily mean that the performer does not believe what the character delivers. That observation could apply equally well to the array of avowed believers who assemble as a support group in Baker's latest effort. In fact, one character, Hilda (Lisa Jill Anderson), posits, to the displeasure of the others, that belief in conspiracy theories is a self-protective measure masking feelings of powerlessness. That she may be objectively correct is not meant to demean these characters or to diminish the complexity of their lived experience, a point that is underscored by the fact that Hilda herself behaves not a sage dispenser of wisdom so much as a cheerfully, obliviously condescending outsider to the group, as absorbed in her own faintly silly interests as the conspiracists are in theirs. Read more »

Haming Up the Proceedings

How to Hamlet, or Hamleting Hamlet
Written by John Kurzynowski and Jon Riddleberger
Conceived and directed by John Kurzynowski
Presented by Theater Reconstruction Ensemble at HERE, NYC
March 30-April 14, 2017

The average person probably has at least a passing familiarity with William Shakespeare's Hamlet. But how is it different to know the Western canon's arguably most famous tragedy from the inside, so to speak? And can that shift in perspective, even if observed rather than experienced directly, allow the audience to see the play afresh, with different eyes? In John Kurzynowski and Jon Riddleberger's metatheatrical comedy How to Hamlet, or Hamleting Hamlet, created and performed by Theater Reconstruction Ensemble (TRE), a quartet of people (Nathaniel Basch-Gould, Sam Corbin, Joshua William Gelb, and Emily Marro) find themselves unexpectedly performing Hamlet (a problem, one would imagine, that most of us are glad not to encounter). TRE is a collective that seeks to "reconstruct both classical and canonical forms of theatricality through the playful development of works over time," and How to Hamlet uses a play centered on revenge, madness, and an existential crisis as the basis for unpredictable fun. To borrow from Troilus and Cressida, "this is, and is not," Hamlet. Read more »

The Old Soft Shoe Shuffle

FRED
Written by Christopher Ford and Dakota Rose
Directed by Dakota Rose
Presented by On the Rocks Theatre Company at Dixon Place, NYC
March 17-April 1, 2017

Dixon Place is a reliable venue for offbeat theater. If you're looking for, say, an earnest examination of twentysomethings trying to make it in the city, then it's probably best to look elsewhere. If, however, you're in the mood for sci-fi puppets or dance-filled reimaginings of Carroll's Wonderland, then Dixon Place has you covered. The latest of these unconventional offerings is FRED, a buoyant new comedy by Christopher Ford and Dakota Rose, creators of the recent The White Stag Quadrilogy. Read more »

Treading On Borrowed Time

Kyle
Written by Hollis James, Directed by Emily Owens
Presented by Hot Tramp Productions at UNDER St. Marks, NYC
March 11-25, 2017

Kyle is the first play from Hot Tramp Productions, which promises "darkly comic" shows as part of its mission to create "pre-apocalyptic theatre for a post-Bowie world." Written by Queens native Hollis James, Kyle mines comedy from the depths of addiction and marks an impressive debut both for James as a playwright and for his and director Emily Owens' newly-founded production company. Read more »

A Man Needs A Maid

Les Bonnes/The Maids
Written by Jean Genet
Directed by Oliver Henzler
Presented by La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club
In association with L'Atelier Théâtre Productions at First Floor Theatre, NYC

Writer and activist Jean Genet's early play Les Bonnes (The Maids) was inspired in part by the real-life 1933 murder by two sisters, employed as maids, of their employer and her daughter. In his play, Genet transforms his sensationalistic inspiration into a stylized psychodrama that comments on forms of servitude and dependency, and the result has remained popular since its debut in 1947. Les Bonnes is the first professional production by L'Atelier Théâtre Productions, which "aims at presenting bold and inspiring European plays to a New York audience in the original language" and at creating a community of theater artists in New York who will blend American and European traditions. This production is performed in the original French, with English subtitles (by Lucy O'Brien, Mariam Mustafa, and Ellen Thome, undergraduates studying French at Fordham University) available on video screens at either end of the room, above and behind the audience, which is seated on the two short sides of the rectangular theater. Read more »

It's Even Frostier In Here - FRIGID, Part 2

We're back for the second week of the 19-day FRIGID NY Festival, which is in the midst of an artistic occupation of the Kraine Theater and UNDER St. Marks, to discuss two more of its 30 plays. In total, we are reviewing a mere four, or 13%, of this year's FRIGID shows, but information and tickets for all of the offerings can be found at www.FRIGIDnewyork.info. As every year, all proceeds from tickets sales go directly to the artists. Read more »

Frosty & FRIGID

It's that time of year again: the FRIGID NY Festival is taking over the Kraine Theater and UNDER St. Marks for 19 days, with 30 plays ranging from personal narratives to parodies to science comedy to the avant-garde. We will be discussing a mere four of the productions in our two dispatches from the festival, but information and tickets for all of this year's shows can be found at www.FRIGIDnewyork.info. As every year, all proceeds from tickets sales go directly to the artists. Read more »

Syndicate content