Oedipus El Rey Review: Brutal Murder, Sensuous Incest in El Barrio

That Oedipus will kill his father and marry his mother is fated and – 2,500 years after Sophocles wrote Oedipus Rex – familiar. But Luis Alfaro’s modern adaptation of Sophocles’ tragedy, set in the Chicano barrio of South Central Los Angeles, turns it into something new and shocking, bringing on stage what the Greek playwright kept off stage, in an intense, visceral production directed by Chay Yew at the Public Theater. If it begins feeling stagey, “Oedipus El Rey” becomes brutal and direct, but also graphically sensuous and oddly tender — ultimately in all ways gripping.
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Stuffed Review: Lisa Lampanelli Riffs on Food

At one moment in “Stuffed,” a scattershot play about our disordered relationship with food, Lisa Lampanelli talks with disdain about a skinny friend of hers who turned down dessert, saying ‘I’m not hungry.’

“Not hungry!?! Not hungry!?! What the F- does being hungry have to do with eating a goddamned dessert?”

It’s a funny line, expertly delivered by an experienced stand-up comic – experienced both in humor and in eating issues. If “Stuffed” offers many such nutritious morsels, unfortunately they are not the dominant flavor in this over-spiced but thin stew.

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Illyria Review and Pics: Scrappy Joe Papp

Joe Papp, subject of Illyria

Before Hamilton, A Chorus Line, Hair; before Joseph Papp built the Public Theater into an institution, he was faced with a fight for survival of his newfound free Shakespeare in Central Park that he seemed destined to lose.

That’s the story in Illyria, a play written and directed by Richard Nelson, who tells his well-researched story in the same low-key, oblique and unorthodox way that he employed in his two play series, The Apple Family and The Gabriels. The style – quietly, realistically acted “in real time,” minimally designed – seemed better suited for those previous pieces…

Full review on DC Theatre Scene


The Portuguese Kid Review: Jason Alexander in Shanley Cheesy Comedy

Jason Alexander plays a Mama’s boy who recently married a “Puerto Rican firecracker” half his age; Sherie Rene Scott, a twice-widowed Greek bombshell, is shacking up with a dumb, moon-struck Italian half her age. The Puerto Rican firecracker and the moon-struck Italian were once an item. The Mama’s boy and the bombshell have been friends since childhood, and have had the hots for one another all that time without realizing it.

“The Portuguese Kid,” the latest play written and directed by John Patrick Shanley, is as predictable as it is old-fashioned – a hoary pseudo-romantic comedy trafficking in insulting stereotypes that died well before Don Rickles did. If there are any larger or deeper questions the show provokes, they are not about gender relations given the current political climate, as a few seconds of dialogue may lead you to believe. They’re more along the lines of: Why would the Manhattan Theatre Club produce such a show?

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The Last Match Review: Awkward Tennis, Appealing Love

This is a tennis match?

There’s no net, no ball, no racquet, and no final score, although the set at Roundabout’s Off-Broadway theater does include a scoreboard. There is only the whoosh or whizzing sound of the (unseen) ball, during the relatively few times over the 95 minutes of the play that the two players mime swings, facing the audience rather than each other.

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People, Places & Things Review: An Alcoholic Actress Steps Up in Rehab

“Drugs and alcohol have never let me down. They have always loved me,” Emma (Denise Gough) tells the doctor at the rehab clinic, not quite halfway through Duncan Macmillan’s play. Her comments are actually a sign of progress.

If an alcoholic’s 12-step journey toward recovery is a familiar subject, “People, Places & Things” offers enough special and surprising, well, people, places and things to justify a visit to St. Ann’s Warehouse, where it’s scheduled to run through December 3.

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Jesus Hopped The A Train Review and Pics: Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Spiritual Killers

Sean Carvajal in Jesus Hopped the A Train

Two killers in adjoining prison cages face off about God in this killer revival of one of the earliest plays by Stephen Adly Guirgis, the streetwise New York playwright of such acclaimed recent dramas as the Pulitzer-winning Between Riverside and Crazy and Broadway’s The M-F With the Hat. Foul-mouthed funny and intense and thought-provoking, the play is a promising start to Guirgis’ 2017-2018 “residency” at New York’s Signature Theatre.

Full review on DC Theatre Scene 

Click on any photograph by Joan Marcus to see it enlarged.