The Funny Side of Gay Persecution. Cicely Tyson Trumps James Earl Jones. Zachary Quinto Returns. Week in NY Theater

At least one play a day is opening in the week ahead, as it has in the past two weeks of October, the busiest month of the Fall theater season. Check out Dames at Sea, First Daughter Suite, Futurity and the rest in the October listings.

Meanwhile, Andrew Lloyd Webber introduced a (so far) unique way of marketing his newest musical, School of Rock — with a 360-degree video. (Warning: It only works on a Chrome browser.)

The Week in New York Reviews

Mamie Gummer in a virtual world
Mamie Gummer in a virtual world

My review of Ugly Lies The Bone

Jess (Mamie Gummer) has returned to her hometown in Florida after her third tour of Afghanistan, where she was set on fire by an improvised explosive device, scarring her beyond recognition, resulting in innumerable surgeries, and causing her relentless pain.

To alleviate her pain, Jess is undergoing a new form of pain management – virtual reality. As the disembodied voice who is overseeing the video game treatment says to Jess: “It’s the same as when you were a child and your mother said look over here so you didn’t notice while she ripped your band-aid off. That’s all we’ll do. Distract the brain….”

As fascinating as the virtual reality treatment is, what’s at the heart of Ferrentino’s play – and what works best — is Jess’s interaction with the other characters,


My review of The Gin Game

The two characters in The Gin Game do little more than play card games and, once, (spoiler alert) dance. But they’re portrayed by James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson – with some 130 years of acting experience between them – and that’s enough to turn this Broadway revival into a stellar outing at the theater.

Akosua Busia and Lupita Nyong’o in Eclipsed
Akosua Busia and Lupita Nyong’o in Eclipsed


Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave) is making her New York stage debut in ‘Eclipsed,’ a play by Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead) set in 2003 during the Liberian civil war, about four captive wives of a rebel officer.

"Perfect Arrangement"
“Perfect Arrangement”

My review of Perfect Arrangement

At its best, Payne’s play tells the story of the government’s persecution of gay people in the 1950s by borrowing giddily from a 1950’s sitcom like “I Love Lucy” – complete with comic one-liners, a ditzy dame, a farcical plot, crinkly ankle-length crinoline dresses, even a generic-looking set that recalls in style and layout that of a 1950’s situation comedy. But the play  stumbles, by in effect leaving the 1950’s – looking at this slice of history through the fixed lens of the 21st century.


My review of Cloud Nine

Three decades ago, audiences were surely made dizzy by a play that took place with the same characters in two eras a century apart; equated sexual and gender politics with colonial imperialism; expanded the concept of color-blind casting to become both age-blind and gender-blind; and brought sexual coupling on stage to new heights, or depths, offering so many different combinations as to approach a form of mathematics….That the play remains relevant I find beyond dispute. But a third era intrudes on the proceedings – our current day – adding a perspective that’s not always complimentary to the choices made by the playwright or the director.

Sam Rockwell and Nina Arianda
Sam Rockwell and Nina Arianda

My review of Fool For Love

Thirty years after Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love” closed Off-Broadway, the short  play is making its Broadway debut, starring Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell as two Westerners caught in a violent push-pull relationship.Some continue to see the play as both explosive and deep…But what I saw at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater was a Punch and Judy show for the old-school avant-garde. “Fool for Love” struck me as little more than an impressive acting exercise and the theatrical equivalent of a low-budget action flick.

The Week in New York Theater News


Arthur Miller at 100

Suzan-lori parks
Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks has been awarded the $300,000 Gish Prize as an artist who’s had “extraordinary impact” on her artistic discipline, in this case the theater.


Dear Elizbeth,Sarah Ruhl’s play about poets Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop, with six starry rotating casts (including Cherry Jones, John Douglas Thompson and Kathleen Chalfant), will be on stage at the Womens Project Theater from October 26 to December 5.

Back on a New York stage for the first time since Glass Menagerie, Zachary Quinto  will star in Smokefall by Noah Haidle at the MCC theater in February.

Kevin Isola and John Cariani (playwright and actor), in Almost, Maine
Kevin Isola and John Cariani (playwright and actor), in Almost, Maine

Actor/playwright John Cariani (currently performing in Something Rotten) will turn his play Almost Maine into a young adult novel

Kristine Nielsen in poster for Taylor Mac's Hir
Kristine Nielsen in poster for Taylor Mac’s Hir

Before it began previews last Friday at Playwrights Horizons, Hir by Taylor Mac, was extended to December 6.

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Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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