Thursday, April 3, 2014

Lotta Lear-ing Goin' On

There's been some kvetching about the number of King Lears treading the boards of New York theaters this season, but I don't mind at all. Maybe it's because it takes me awhile to fully process complex ideas and language, but I find something new in every good production of Shakespeare that I see.

So far I've loved Frank Langella's Lear at BAM this past winter, and liked the current Theatre for a New Audience production starring Michael Pennington. I'm not overly excited about John Lithgow's at Shakespeare in the Park this summer or Joseph Marcell's at the Skirball Center in the fall, though I hope they'll both be very good. I am eager for Simon Russell Beale's, which is at London's National Theatre, but will be broadcast to the U.S. in May courtesy of NT Live.

Critics may get weary, but the more opportunities audiences have to see (hopefully great) Shakespeare the better.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Object of Adulation

Cuban playwright Eduardo Machado usually writes about his heritage, but Worship is about the often unhealthy, tumultuous relationship between students and the mentors they, well, worship. It's impossible to watch this problematic play without wondering how Machado's own interactions with his mentor, Maria Irene Fornes, influenced it.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Political Extremes

What do Pussy Riot, Edward Snowden and Toronto mayor Rob Ford have in common? Aside from being extreme political figures, they're all subjects of new books rounded up in this Time Out New York article I coauthored with Matthew Love.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Modest Middle

Similarities abound between Marty, Paddy Chayefsky's best-known work from the 1950s, and Middle of the Night, a less-familiar play from that same decade, now being revived Off Broadway by the Keen Company. Both are about lonely people longing to connect with a soul mate, yet despite a polished and well-acted production, I wasn't terribly touched by Jerry and Betty's relationship in the latter piece. It did call to mind last year's Talley's Folly revival with Danny Burstein and Sarah Paulson, but that was the more stirring piece.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sailing for Redemption

Irish Rep's new musical, about convicts bound for Australia, has a book by Thomas Keneally (Schindler's List), music and lyrics by Larry Kirwan (the group Black 47) and direction and design by Broadway veteran Tony Walton, but the results are pretty insubstantial. It seems to be aiming for a Les Miz-type story of hope and redemption for prisoners for women whose poverty has led them to prison, but it's populated with stock characters that never come fully alive.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Rosencrnatz and Guildenstern Are...Very Much Alive

I wasn't sure I was in the mood for two and a half hours of Tom Stoppard on the chilly night that I caught the Acting Company's production of his Rosencrantz abd Guildenstern Are Dead, but more than 40 years on, it proved to be a kind of chicken soup for the mind as well as the soul.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Not-So-Affordable Healthcare

It was very exciting to end 2113 with my first article for The Guardian, a website whose news and cultural coverage have become must-reads for me. I only wish I had more enthusiasm for the brave new healthcare world the U.S. is about the embark on. Obamacare has made healthcare coverage less expensive than it was but still a bit shy of affordable for me.