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Fruit Trilogy Review: Eve Ensler Raging Against Female Exploitation, Reveling in Female Pleasure

These three new short plays written by Eve Ensler about women and the use and abuse of their bodies arrive on stage just four months after her last play, In the Body of the World , turned me into a fan. I  was impressed in that earlier play by the sharpness of her insights and the humor of their delivery;  engaged in the specificity of her rage; both taken aback and riveted by her candor.
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June 2018 New York Theater Openings: Off-Broadway Busting Out All Over

Broadway’s focus is on the Tonys – no Broadway shows are opening this month – but Off-Broadway is bursting.

It’s not just all the familiar faces that lure. As the list below makes clear, it’s the  unfamiliar (and sometimes outright weird) that intrigue as well.
Some (potential) highlights: Anika Noni Rose stars in CSC’s revival of Carmen Jones, one of a number of shows this month about the African-American experience.  Idina Menzel stars in Skintight, one of the strikingly diverse new plays with LGBT characters and/or themes this month. (June is Pride Month, after all.)  Melissa Errico Read more of this post

The Beast in the Jungle Review: Henry James and John Kander’s “Dance Play” of Love and Frustration

Reaction occurs in three distinct stages to “The Beast in the Jungle,” an unusual new show at Vineyard Theater, inspired by a novella by Henry James, with music composed by John Kander. The production is directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, and stars Tony Yazbeck and newcomer Irina Dvorovenko, engaging in a frustrated dance of love over 50 years.
The first reaction is excitement: Read more of this post

Peace for Mary Frances Review: Lois Smith as dying matriarch of dysfunctional family

“We don’t want you to suffer and die,” one of her granddaughters says to Mary Frances (Lois Smith), as she lies in bed. “We just want you to die.”

“Yeah,” agrees Mary Frances with a laugh. She is 90 years old, in ill health, and ready to go. “Peace for Mary Frances,” a play by Lily Thorne, chronicles the last few weeks of Mary’s life after she contacts a hospice, so that they can help her die at home with as little pain as possible, surrounded by her family.
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2018 Obie Award Winners

Rajiv Joseph’s Describe the Night won the award for Best New American Play, and $1,000, at the 63rd Annual Obie Awards, celebrating Off and Off-Broadway Theater, which spread the love around. Obies went to three directors, four playwrights and a dozen actors.

Complete list:

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Our Lady of 121st Street Review: Phylicia Rashad directs Stephen Adly Guirgis’s early play.

“What kinda f—in’ world is this?”
It is the first line in the first scene of “Our Lady of 121st Street,” asked by a man in his underwear, ranting to a detective at the Ortiz Funeral Home in Harlem, where the funeral for Sister Rose is supposed to take place, except that somebody has stolen the dead nun’s body. The same thief has stolen the agitated man’s pants.

It’s also a good question for theatergoers to ask of Stephen Adly Guirgis’s 2002 play, revived as part of his Signature season. Read more of this post

Long Day’s Journey Into Night at BAM with Jeremy Irons: Review, pics

By the end of the Broadway revival of Long Days Journey Into Night two years ago, when Jessica Lange as mother Mary Tyrone rejoins her family, she is an ethereal ghost, her mind and body numbed by the morphine to which she is addicted. Now, at the same moment on stage in Brooklyn, Lesley Manville’s Mary practically does a jig. Hers is one of the unusually physical performances in the Bristol Old Vic production of Long Day’s Journey into Night at the Brooklyn Academy of Music this month. Eugene O’Neill’s domestic dance feels like a literal dance at times in this version directed by Sir Richard Eyre in a cast led by Jeremy Irons. The four members of the Tyrone family, stand-ins for O’Neill’s own, jostle each other violently; pounce and push, hug and jab; raise their arms in the air in drunken triumph; stretch their bodies oddly, as if the play’s long running time has caused a few cricks…

The distinctive touches of the production, some at variance with the playwright’s conception, don’t wind up seriously detracting from what most matters about Long Day’s Journey into Night. In the Bristol Old Vic’s version as in every other I’ve seen, the play is a powerful and insightful tragedy…

Full review on DC Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph by Richard Termine to see it enlarged.

The Gentleman Caller Review: Tennessee Williams Advises, Seduces William Inge

William Inge jumps Tennessee Williams within the first few minutes of meeting him, ripping off his clothes to have sex with him, in “The Gentleman Caller,” a new, two-character play by Philip Dawkins, who imagines the first two encounters between these future eminent playwrights as the steamy sexual cat and mouse game of two gay young men.
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Dance Nation: Review and Pics

Dance Nation is a surprise, and a shock, and a delight.  Although the characters are a team of 13-year-old competitive dancers from Liverpool, Ohio aiming to win the Boogie Down Grand Prix in Tampa Bay, Clare Barron’s play is not really about dancing. It is a funny, sharp and very blunt look at adolescent girls – portrayed by a terrific cast made up of actors as old as 60.

Although there are a couple of dance numbers, director and choreographer Lee Sunday Evans is not aspiring to be a next-generation Michael Bennett. Dance Nation is less reminiscent of Bennett’s musical A Chorus Line than of Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves, a play about a soccer team of teenage girls, and Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation, a play about an adult acting class. As in those plays, the actual activity is only the frame for sometimes random-seeming scenes whose purpose is to get to know the characters. Dance Nation is at its most entertaining and revealing in between the actual dancing.

Full review at DC Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph by Joan Marcus to see it enlarged

 

2018 Lucille Lortel Award Winners: KPOP, Cost of Living, School Girls

KPOP won best musical and the best play was a tie between Cost of Living and School Girls, in the 33rd Annual Lucille Lortel Awards for Outstanding Achievement Off-Broadway.

Full list:

 Outstanding Play

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