Thursday, August 26, 2010

Emerald From the Isle

Janie Brookshire and Shawn Fagan in Wife to James Whelan.

Some of the "lost" plays that I've seen over the years I suspect weren't accidentally misplaced but intentionally tossed aside -- because they weren't very good. Manhattan Theatre Club's recent revival of Accent on Youth, for example, was a painful experience.

But I was happy to discover that's not the case with Teresa Deevy's excellent Wife to James Whelan, which truly was lost (the late Irish author's nephew discovered the manuscript in an envelope). The 70-year-old play is a masterful character study about gender and class conflict, and it's just the first Deevy plays in the works at the spunky little Mint Theater Company.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Keep on Truxton

Among the pleasure of the new AMC series Rubicon is that it's shot in New York and the cast includes a fine bunch of New York stage actors, including Dallas Roberts, Christopher Evan Welch and Michael Cristofer (left), who plays the most intriguing and eccentric character on the show, Truxton Spangler, the big boss of government think tank API. He's also the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of The Shadow Box and the subject of this piece, I wrote for TheaterMania.

On another AMC note, I saw this Hollywood Reporter story about a new series called The Killing that the network is planning, but I hardly think it's only the fifth original series AMC has aired. Not that I blame anyone for forgetting about its misguided remake of The Prisoner but, even though it was much longer ago, Remember WENN, delightful little comedy by Rupert Holmes that also featured a terrific cast of New York actors, is definitely worth remembering.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dutch Treat

With his gangly body and bulging eyes, Dutch standup Micha Wertheim has a body built for comedy. And he uses all of it in his New York fringe festival show Amsterdam Abortion Survivor, to generally favorable results, I thought.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Since I go to the theater less in the summer, I try to use the extra time to catch up on movies. If I can't be in Central Park watching a terrific ensemble of actors speak Shakespearean verse as if it were their everyday vernacular or catching a new Off-Broadway show, filling those humid nights with a good movie in the comfort of an air conditioned movie theater, or my living room, is a great place to be.

Aside from a brief foray into the black-and-white coffers of Dark Shadows at the start of the summer, I've been on quite the Hal Hartley kick, rewatching the brilliant Henry Fool and wishing I hadn't wasted my time on the disappointing The Girl From Monday. But as I delve further into his canon it's getting increasingly difficult to find copies of his early films to rent or borrow.

In 2010, it seems that all I should have to do is go to Netflix to get any film in my mailbox in a day or two. But Netflix doesn't have The Unbelievable Truth or Flirt. I found the former at the NYU library, but is it possible that Flirt and a masterpiece like Trust, Hartley's first film with Martin Donovan, were never released on DVD?

Trust and Surviving Desire are available on Netflix via the "watch instantly" function, and while I love the many video clips available on YouTube, I haven't been able to make the transition to watching movies on my computer. Thankfully there's still the good old public library, which has both Flirt and Trust on VHS. Glad I didn't give up that VCR yet.

Still, I hope that not only will those films find their way onto DVD but that the ones that have already been released will be reissued with better prints and maybe even audio commentary from Hartley and his cast. One film he could star with is the enchanting millennium oddity The Book of Life, his only film to star Donovan and Thomas Jay Ryan, my favorite Hartley interpreters. The evocative image above is one of the film's final shots.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Returning to the Beginning

Since embarking on a freelance career earlier this year, I've found myself returning to my past and again contributing to Back Stage, the publication that gave me my first post-collegiate job in 1993.

It's been a lot of fun, especially since I'm calmer and more confident in my writing ability. Here are my pieces on actors' websites and Facebook pages.