Advertisements

Quietly Review: Violence Driven Home at Irish Rep

There is one moment of abrupt physical violence in “Quietly,” but it comes near the beginning of Owen McCafferty’s piercing drama about the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and it is neither climactic nor cathartic. It’s baffling. This is not the way violence is normally depicted on stage or screen, in other words. But it is surely the way violence is most often received in real life. And that’s precisely what “Quietly” is going for in this brief, low-key, but piercing glimpse at the effect of violence on both its victims and its perpetrators.

Imported from the Abbey Theater in Dublin to the newly renovated Irish Repertory Theater. “Quietly” begins…quietly. Jimmy (Patrick O’Kane) is watching a World Cup soccer match between Ireland and Poland while nursing a pint in an empty bar in Belfast in 2009, presided over by Robert (Robert Zawadzki,) a bartender who emigrated from Poland. The chat is idle, sometimes amusing, full of insults about their own teams. Twenty minutes into this 75-minute play, the jocular idling ends abruptly, when Ian (Declan Conlan) enters the pub. Jimmy wallops him.

Quietly 5 Patrick O'Kane“That it – that the only reason you agreed to see me,” Ian says.

Jimmy says he hopes Ian has cancer.

We eventually learn that, 36 years earlier, the two of them, both then 16 years old, forged a bloody connection rooted in violence in this very pub. (Since it takes half the play to reveal the details, I won’t describe them here.)

Quietly 6 Declan Conlon in the Abbey Theatre's QUIETLY at Irish Rep, Photo by James Higgins“I’m here, but I don’t know what to say to you,” Ian says.
“You could start with I’m sorry,” Jimmy says
“I can’t speak for the actions of a sixteen year old child – but I can speak for myself now – I’m sorry what happened,” Ian says.

“That’s of no use,” Jimmy replies.

As short as it is, “Quietly” feels deliberately slow moving, the latter half consumed with what are essentially monologues that in the wrong hands could come off as stagey, and in any case require attention (and not just because of the accents.) But, under director Jimmy Fay, the actors make it credible – O’Kane, as ferocious, lean and scarred as a boxer; Conlan, defensive, in denial, and scarred; Zawadzki like a stand-in for the world, observing it all indifferently. The performances, and the specificity of the two men’s lives, help drive home the many lessons of violence – how kids are recruited into it, how lives are forever shaped by it, how the consequences are myriad and always entirely negative. These may seem like obvious lessons, but they clearly haven’t been learned very well.

Quietly 4 Declan Conlon and Patrick O'Kane Photo by James Higgins

 

Quietly

Irish Repertory Theatre

Written by Owen McCafferty

Directed by Jimmy Fay

Set design by Alyson Cummins, costume design by Catherine Fay, lighting design by Sinead McKenna, sound design by Philip Stewart, fight direction by Donal O’Farrell

Cast: Declan Conlon, Patrick O’Kane, Rovert Zawadzki

Running time: 75 minutes, no intermission.

Tickets: $50 – $70

Quietly is scheduled to play through September 11, 2016

 

Advertisements

Off-Broadway Openings in February, 2014

February2014OffBroadwayFebruary a fallow month for theater? Feh.

While it’s true there are only two plays scheduled to open in February on Broadway, there are far more Off-Broadway, part of a vibrant Off-Broadway Spring 2014 season. Below are promising shows Off-Broadway, organized chronologically by opening dates. You can attend many of these shows, and many others Off-Broadway, for just $20,  through the 20at20 promotion, if you purchase tickets to the shows anytime up to February 9th.

*Almost, Maine, by John Cariani. Produced by Transport Group at the Gym at Judson. Opening February 4.
Salty waitresses, lost tourists, tough and not-so-tough women and men crack open some beer, start their snowmobiles, pitch a tent, and gather under the northern lights to try to make sense of this strange thing called love. Since its short-lived New York debut, Almost, Maine has become one of the most produced plays around the world.

Riding the Midnight Train with Billy Hayes. Produced by Barbara Ligeti at St. Luke’s Theatre. Opening February 5.

*The Tribute Artist, by Charles BuschProduced by Primary Stages at 59E59. Opening February 9.
Charles Busch is an out-of-work female impersonator who, when his elderly landlady dies in her sleep, takes on her identity in order to hang on to her valuable Greenwich Village townhouse.

Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man. Produced by Matt Murphy Productions at The 777 Theatre. Opening February 9.

* Dinner with Friends, by Donald Margulies, a revival. Produced by Roundabout Theatre Company at the Harold & Miriam Steinberg Center for the Performing Arts. Opening February 13.

A revival of the Pulitzer Prize winning play about two couples who have been inseparable. But when one marriage unexpectedly crumbles, the couples’ lives begin to veer in opposite directions.

The Chocolate Show! A Tasty New Musical. Produced by Golly Gee Productions at the 47th Street Theatre. Opening February 14.

*Transport. Produced by Irish Rep. Opening February 16.
With a book by  Thomas Keneally (Schindler’s List) and music and lyrics by Larry Kirwan (New York City band Black 47), this musical follows the uneasy ocean voyage of Irish women who were sentenced and then exiled to the relatively uninhabited south coast of Australia in the mid-19th Century.

Bikeman: The 9/11 Theatrical Experience. Produced by Marc Agger at the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center. OpeningFebruary 18.

*Love and Information by Caryll Churchill. Produced by New York Theatre Workshop at the Minetta Lane. Opening February 19.
Caryl Churchill returns for her seventh American premiere at New York Theatre Workshop with a theatrical kaleidoscope exploring more than a hundred characters as they try to make sense of what they find out,

My Mother Has 4 Noses, by Jonatha BrookeProduced by Patrick Rains at The Duke on 42nd Street. Opening February 20.

Kung Fu. Produced by Signature Theatre. Opening February 24;
Cole Horibe (So You Think You Can Dance) stars as Bruce Lee in David Henry Hwang’s new theater piece blending dance, Chinese opera, martial arts and drama to depict Lee’s journey from troubled Hong Kong youth to martial arts legend.

*London Wall. Produced by Mint Theatre. Opening February 24.
In this 1931 play, John Van Druten explores the tumultuous lives and love affairs of the women employed as shorthand typists in a busy solicitor’s office in 1930’s London

Ode to Joy. Produced by Rattlestick Productions at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Opening February 27.
This play written and directed by Craig Lucas (Prelude to a Kiss, The Dying Gaul) tells the story of love, heartbreak, addiction, and illness through the eyes of Adele, an audacious painter and her destructive relations with Mala and Bill, her two lovers.

This list is provided by The League of Off Broadway Theatres and Producers.  20at20 is a promotion by the Off-Broadway Theater Alliance. The descriptions of the shows come from the shows themselves; nothing is guaranteed in advance of course, which is why I review.

* Asterisks are next to those shows to which I have been invited (and plan) to review as of this writing.

Fantasia! Julie Taymor! Daniel Craig! Dr. Ruth! The Week in New York Theater

WeekinNewYorkTheaterOct28toNov3

Fantasia in After Midnight; Kathryn Hunter as Puck in Julie Taymor’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Debra Jo Rupp as the dimunitive sex therapist in Becoming Dr. Ruth

“After Midnight” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opened during the week in New York theater: We are clearly in the middle of the theater season. I reviewed these shows as well as “Becoming Dr. Ruth” and “Betrayal” with Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz. Also below, news about Ewan McGregor and Carol Lawrence, Stephen Sondheim and Tony Kushner, August Wilson, another way to celebrate Wicked’s 10th anniversary on Broadway…and Tracy Lett’s 10 Rules For Being Creative.

The Week in New York Theater

Monday, October 28, 2013

Top ten stage shows that did NOT win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama

Top10showswithnoPulitzerFun Home by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori has been extended at ‪The Public Theater until December 1st.

The Irish Rep is reviving It’s A Wonderful Life (the 1946 radio play adapted from the Frank Capra movie). When? In December of course.

Tale of two  (really three) Shakespeares: Romeo and Juliet sold only 42 percent of its seats last week; Twelfth Night and Richard III sold 97 percent!

To celebrate its tenth anniversary on Broadway, Wicked becomes a category on Jeopardy

29

American Songbook 2014 at Lincoln Center:  Patina Miller, Jonathan Groff, Ann Harada, Taylor Mac, Norm Lewis, etc. 

 36.7 million saw shows at non-profit theaters, which contributed about $2 billion to U.S. economy, reports Theater Communications Group.

DebraJoRuppasDrRuth

My review of Becoming Dr. Ruth

funny, touching, lovely solo show about the celebrity sex therapist’s remarkable life story ….Debra Jo Rupp is able to communicate Dr. Ruth’s humor and warmth and inspiring resilience in a way that only seems possible on a stage. And, though Rupp is a full seven inches taller than Ruth Westheimer, she even manages to convince us that she’s as physically short as the larger-than-life woman she is portraying.

Full review of Becoming Dr. Ruth

30

CarolLawrenceWestSideStoryandnow

Carol Lawrence, original Maria in West Side Story, plays Israeli grandmother in new play Handle with Care, which opens December 15th at Westside Theater

The 46-year-old Puerto Rican Traveling Theater Co. is merging with 34-year-old Pregones Theater

31

"The Impossible" - Los Angeles Premiere - ArrivalsEwan McGregor will make his Broadway debut in The Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing, Oct.2014

Stephen Sondheim attended the musical “Fun Home” at the Public Theater, which prompted Michael Schulman to observe: “The score, by Jeanine Tesori (music) and Lisa Kron (book and lyrics), is rich and troubled and psychologically nuanced, in a way that seems inescapably Sondheimian. Starting in the nineteen-seventies, Sondheim ushered in a new way of writing show tunes, one that favored liminal states—ambivalence, regret—over toe-tapping joy.”

Tony Kushner is writing “a screenplay and an opera libretto about Eugene O’Neill.”

Trey Graham ‏@treygraham A Tony Kushner opera about Eugene O’Neill. That’ll be brisk.

 

ARaisinintheSunRevisited

Miss “The Raisin Cycle” documentary on PBS, about Raisin in the Sun & its sequels? Full show here for a limited time

November 1, 2013

SpeakeasyDollhouse

Q and A with performance artist Cynth Von Buhler, creator of Speakeasy Dollhouse, combination immersive theater and gin joint

NewPLayExchange

New Play Exchange

Like many playwrights, Gwydion Suilebhan has long been frustrated by what happens after he has written a play.

“The task of figuring out, among the thousands of theatres across the United States, which ones might be both right for a given play of mine and interested in considering new work at any given moment in time,” he says, “falls somewhere between onerous and impossible.

That’s why Suilebhan is delighted by the idea of a national database of new plays—an idea, in fact, that promises to be coming soon to a theatre near you. Indeed, Suilebhan was hired this past summer as the director of the New Play Exchange, an online tool being developed at the National New Play Network, aiming to be fully operational by 2015.

Full article on New Play Exchange

Betrayal1

My review of Betrayal

Director Mike Nichols takes liberties.  The alcohol pours freely, designer Ian MacNeil’s sets glide aerodynamically into place, the actors shed British reserve to shout and grab and, instead of staring, kiss…and couple.  This is a more external, more explicit, production of what is already Pinter’s most accessible play. For me, what’s lost in subtlety is gained in clarity…

While many have been drawn to this third Broadway production of Betrayal for reasons other than, say, a love of Pinter, the three main actors (there is a fourth who plays a waiter in one scene) deliver arresting performances on the stage. These are not slumming screen stars. We see the characters transform (backwards) before our eyes: Daniel Craig’s indifferent attitude unravels into anger, resentment, hurt; Rachel Weisz’s reserve collapses into a naivete that makes her an easy target; Rafe Spall guilt turns to puppy-doggish enthusiasm  and then to a drunken sort of mercenary aggression.

Full review of Betrayal

2

A dozen videos from the Howlround conference on Latino theater

MidsummerNightsDream1

My review of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

There is something terrifically apt in director Julie Taymor, so loved after creating The Lion King, and so hated after Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, inaugurating a beautiful new theater in Brooklyn with Shakespeare’s play about the fickleness of affection.

There are echoes of her previous work in Taymor’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Theatre for a New Audience’s Polonsky Shakespeare Center – the lovely delicate animal costumes that the ensemble occasionally wear recall The Lion King, the breathtaking use of parachute-size sheets and aerial acrobatics seem taken from the Spider-Man playbook. But Taymor’s inventive staging has the feel of something new, ironically because she is in a way revisiting her past  — she first worked with Theatre for a New Audience in 1984, when she was an experimental theater artist known only to the cognoscenti. Her Dream returns her to a relatively intimate scale (and lower budget) and is better because of it. It is time to love Julie Taymor again.

This is not to say that hers is a perfect Dream…

Full review of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

3

Bruce Hallett, former president of Time and Sports Illustrated, has joined Playbill Inc. as its publisher, focusing on the print magazine.

Glen Berger’s book Song of Spiderman is an insider’s coroner report, says review Mark Harris. One line:  “Just watching it all disappear down the dream hole, huh?” Julie Taymor said to Glen Berger after tough Spider-man rehearsal.

Ruben Santiago Hudson

Ruben Santiago-Hudson has been taken with August Wilson since he saw Wilson’s very first play on Broadway, as he told me during the recent taping of all 10 plays of Wilson’s American Century Cycle — each one set in a different decade of the twentieth century.

“I was smitten, captured, put in a spell,” he says. “Nobody had represented me with such integrity; nobody seemed to have the love for me and the people I knew like August did.”

Santiago-Hudson is committed to putting the last of Wilson’s plays, Jitney, on Broadway. In the meantime, he is playing August Wilson in a solo show BY Wilson, How I Learned What I Learned

Fantasia

Fantasia

My review of After Midnight

Syncopated or synchronized; scatting, swinging or serenading; in white satin or black silk, the more than three dozen supremely talented entertainers of “After Midnight” – singers, dancers and musicians – thrill with an astonishing 27 musical numbers over 90 intermission-less minutes…

The first guest artist is Fantasia Barrino, the American Idol winner who floored Broadway audiences with her performance as Celie in The Color Purple. (Future guest artists already lined up after Barrino leaves the show in February: kd lang, then Toni Braxton and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds.) It is a different Fantasia – luscious, sparkling, dressed in celebrated fashion designer/first-time Broadway costume designer Isabel Toledo’s flattering ensembles – who floors us in a completely new way with her polished singing of the enduring jazz standards “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,”  “Stormy Weather,” and “On The Sunny Side of the Street,” as well as her fabulous scatting in Cab Calloway’s snazzy “Zaz Zuh Zaz.” But this is a show too rich in talent to have to depend on any one star. Even the orchestra is called the All-Stars …

There are two ways, however, in which Dule Hill’s use of Langston Hughes’ poetry as the sole spoken text of “After Midnight” strikes me as a missed opportunity..

Full review of After Midnight

Tracy Letts’ 10 Rules for Being Creative

Tracy Letts 10 ideas for being creative