Advertisements

Shakespeare in the Theater at the Brick: “Dreamers Often Lie” and the Queering of Romeo and Juliet.

“Shakespeare in the Theater” is the not-quite-clever title of a festival at the Brick Theater that presents itself as an alternative to New York summer staples, Shakespeare in the Park and Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. It’s different because it takes place inside an air-conditioned theater, rather than outdoors, and, more importantly, because it offers new takes on the Bard’s plays.

To get a taste of the festival, which runs through August 27th (see schedule below) I attended the first performance of the first of the eight productions. The hour-long show, produced by the Neon Nature theater company, is entitled “Dreamers Often Lie,” which makes it different from any of the other adaptations in the festival: Writer Lukas Papenfusscline supplied his own title, rather than using Shakespeare’s. Given what I witnessed, this seems an honorable choice.

Click on any photograph by Walls Trimble to see it enlarged.

Read more of this post

Advertisements

Shame or the Doomsday Machine. TNC’s Free Street Theater

For the 42nd summer in a row, the Theater for the New City’s touring Street Theater Company is presenting an original show for free in the streets and parks throughout New York City. (see schedule below.)

This year’s hour-long musical, “Shame! or The Doomsday Machine,” presents a tuneful and anarchic mix of rock, rap, physics, politics, satire and vaudeville, featuring scenes as varied as a classroom in New York City, a Black Hole in the Universe, and Club Mad, 2000 feet below Mar-a-Lago (Trump’s Florida estate,) each presented in hand-painted scenes on a hand-cranked scrolling backdrop.

Click on any photograph by Jonathan Mandell or Jonathan Slaff to see it enlarged

Twenty-eight performers portray a dizzying array of characters, from a group of protesting students carrying picket signs to Melania in her “I Don’t Care Do U?” jacket. Trump makes multiple appearances, first in a bright orange wig, then transformed into a black man, a woman, and a Mexican.

Ok, so the show is not subtle. But it is fun, and entertaining, and there is even something of an arc, and a loud, clear and hopeful message.

Read more of this post

NYIT Award Nominees 2018: Off-Off Broadway’s Finest

Below is the list of nominations announced last night for the 14th annual New York Innovative Theater Awards, which celebrates the best of the city’s independent theater — aka Off-Off Broadway. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on September 24th, 2018.

OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE
Read more of this post

Laura Bush Killed A Guy Review: How Good She Looks Now

The title alone would lead you to expect a stiletto-sharp political satire; why else would a theater in Tribeca present a solo play about the wife of George W. Bush, routinely ranked  as among the worst presidents in U.S. history? But “Laura Bush Killed A Guy” turns out to be something of a stealth enterprise, generating sympathy for a woman who is presented as more complex than the public perception of her. At its best, Ian Allen’s play challenged me to think about my own political perceptions.
Read more of this post

Borders Review: The Refugee Crisis and Western Indifference

“Borders,” we’re told in the program, was the most “decorated play” at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and will have been performed on five continents by the end of 2018. The play was “inspired…by meetings with refugees,” playwright Henry Naylor writes, and attempts both to “put a human face” on the refugee crisis, and to “satirize the lackluster Western response.”
All of this builds up expectations that were for me misleading. “Borders,” which is on stage at NYTW Next Door through July 22, is a small, spare, sometimes poignant but not especially enlightening play that alternates monologues by two characters, a British photographer and a young Syrian woman.
Read more of this post

Tony Award Winner La MaMa ETC 2018-2019 Season: Zombie Asian Moms, Stonewall at 50, Asylum Seekers, the NEA, Puppets!

La Mama ETC, Off-Off Broadway’s only Tony-winning theater, has announced a 57th season that features more than 50 premieres, dizzyingly eclectic as usual, including a 50th anniversary celebration of the Stonewall Riots, a month-long international puppet series, an investigation into the history of the National Endowment for the Arts, a look at Zombie Asian Moms and Kink Haus, a brutal but funny sexual underground, as well as an evening inspired by the poet William Butler Yeats.

In case you missed La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club’s inventive 2018 Tony Award acceptance speech (it wasn’t televised):

(For a video of their remarkable history, see below)

Read more of this post

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

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:

Read more of this post

Maple and Vine review: Make America 1955 Again

In the original 2011 production of Jordan Harrison’s prescient play, a married couple overwhelmed with the stresses and complications of their lives in the city, leave their high-powered jobs behind, as well as their lattes and laptops, for a simpler world – the one that existed in 1955. A cult has re-created the world of 1955 in a gated community in the Midwest.
In the 2018 revival of “Maple and Vine” at the Flea, the actors and the audience enter another world as well – the world of the deaf.
Read more of this post

Bump Review: Pregnancy as Playful and Painful, Childbirth as Inventive

Bump, a play by Chiara Atik that is as entertaining as it is informative, intertwines three different threads about pregnancy and childbirth – the most surprising of which turns out to be based on a true story.

Read more of this post