Monday, July 7, 2014

Is Religion Your Thing?

Religion isn't really my thing, but that didn't prevent me from thoroughly enjoying
Renee Calarco's The Religion Thing, currently on the boards at the Cell thanks to Project Y Theatre, originally base in Washington, D.C.

I went with a longtime friend who happens to be an interfaith minister, and we took a roundabout route to the subway after the show, so that we could discuss the play. Not just what we thought of it (we both loved it), but characters and the choices they make and they ways they respond to each other. No character is easily forgiven or roundly condemned -- not even the "formerly gay" character now married to a woman.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Slow-Going for Donogoo

The Mint Theater strays from its usual diet of British and Irish drama with a French curiosity from 1930 called Donogoo, about a South American land scheme.

But comedy doesn't always translate well, whether from a foreign language or a historical period. Although the first act is mostly setup and the post-intermission payoff amuses, this production, which I reviewed for Time Out New York, isn't sturdy enough to turn decent satire into trenchant theater.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Kingston Plays the Queen

One advantage to doing an interview via Skype is that I was so worried about technology possibly failing me that I didn't have time to be nervous about what I was going to ask Alex Kingston about playing Lady Macbeth, working opposite Sir Kenneth Branagh or a potential future on Doctor Who.

As you can see, it went well. Perhaps because I rather surprised her at the beginning of the interview when she told me the company had been rehearsing at Alexandra Palace in London, and I said, "Oh, you're in Crouch End." She seemed rather impressed that an American had heard of both those places. They're not in too many London guidebooks, certainly, and had I been conducting this interview a year earlier, I would have been clueless. But I had the pleasure of staying with friends in Crouch End during my visit to London in January, and took a walk up to Ally Pally.

Looking forward to experiencing Macbeth tonight.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Scene-stealing Rivals

Memorable performances sometimes pop up where you don't expect them. Sheridan's The Rivals is best known as the play that features the word-misusing Mrs. Malaprop, but the best performances of the Pearl Theatre's perfectly respectful revival come from other members of the ensemble.

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.