Hundred Days Review: The Bengsons’ Concert About Their Love and Anxiety

In “Hundred Days,” a musically engaging autobiographical concert by The Bengsons, Abigail and Shaun Bengson tell us they met one another at “the first rehearsal of a massive anti-folk folk-punk old-timey neo soul band,” and they were married three weeks later. Their relationship terrified both of them – shy Shaun because he feared Abigail would leave him; anxious Abigail because when she was 15 years old she had had a dream that she would meet the love of her life, but that he would only have 100 days left to live.
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Describe The Night Review. 90 Years of Russian Lies, Paranoia, and Love

Playwright Rajiv Joseph aims high in this ambitious, pertinent, resonant, sometimes compelling but often confusing drama that sprawls over 90 years (and three hours), taking place in Poland, Russia, and East Germany, branching out surreally from its roots in actual historical events. The central and most intriguing of these true stories is the relationship between the Russian Jewish writer Isaac Babel (portrayed by Danny Burstein, last on Broadway in “Fiddler on the Roof”) and the head of Stalin’s Soviet Secret Police Nikolai Yezhov (Zach Grenier, best known as the aggressive divorce lawyer David Lee in “The Good Wife.”

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Harry Clarke Review: Seduced by Billy Crudup

“Who are you?” Billy Crudup asks near the end of “Harry Clarke,” as he looks in an imaginary mirror, a tight spotlight on his face, the rest of him in darkness. It’s the question animating David Cale’s 80-minute solo show about a man’s fake identity overtaking his real one. In several of its particulars, this play at the Vineyard Theater about an orphaned, bisexual con man seducing his way to luxurious living recalls “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”
It takes a charismatic performance by the talented Mr. Crudup to make something undeniably entertaining out of Cale’s familiar and improbable yarn.

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Pride and Prejudice Review: Jane Austen as Stage Farce

Readers who cherish Jane Austen’s 1813 novel “Pride and Prejudice” can certainly enjoy Kate Hamill’s stage adaptation, now at the Cherry Lane, as long as they accept that the tone has been rewired from witty comedy of manners to boisterous farce.

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School Girls Or The African Mean Girls Play Review: Beauty As Deep as White Skin

MaameYaa Boafo as mean girl and beauty pageant wannabe and Zainab Jah as Miss Ghana 1966

Paulina is the most popular, the most ambitious and by far the meanest girl in the Aburi Girls Boarding School at the outset of Jocelyn Bioh’s often unsubtle but ultimately stimulating new play. Paulina is confident that she will be crowned Miss Ghana of 1986, until Ericka enrolls in the school. Ericka effortlessly wins over the beauty pageant recruiter because of an advantage with which Paulina can never compete – lighter skin.
“School Girls, or The African Mean Girls Play,” whose title is almost longer than its running time, was inspired by a true story. Read more of this post

Hot Mess Review: Bisexual Meets Standup In Slight Romantic Comedy

For some theatergoers wondering whether to see the hour-long romantic comedy bravely entitled “Hot Mess,” it might be enough to know that Max calls his girlfriend “Poopy Pants.” Or that his girlfriend Elanor calls Max “Jive Turkey.” Others may drop off after learning that an earlier version of this play, written a decade ago by married couple Dan Rothenberg and Colleen Crabtree and reportedly inspired by their courtship, was entitled “Regretrosexual.”

Those who ignore such warning signs will discover an innocuous play performed by an appealing three-member cast that has the slightest of plots. Read more of this post

Office Hour Review: A Mass Killer in the Making…or Misunderstood?

Dennis, the sullen and unsettling student at the center of Julia Cho’s play “Office Hour” is strongly reminiscent of the real-life student Cho Seung-Hui, an English major at Virginia Polytechnic Institute who killed 32 people on campus in 2007.
I was working at CNN then and persuaded his playwriting teacher to let me read the plays he had written for class. There was violence in his writing, and some foul and angry scenarios that had repelled his classmates. His teacher was understandably defensive – he couldn’t have known the plays were anything but the sophomoric fantasies of an aspiring writer who demonstrated no special talent.

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