Current NYC Theater Reviews
Reviewed by Di Jayawickrema (May 22, 2013)
The hardest part of tragedy is not when it strikes but what comes after. The sheer effort of picking up the pieces and carrying on is the stuff compelling human drama is made of, and Mando Alvarado’s new play Basilica knows this well. Despite the overwrought script, I left Cherry Lane Theater with a persistent lump in my throat, and for that, I can thank the searing performance of Felix Solis as Joe Garza. Due to Solis and the rest of the cast who breathe truth in every accent, Basilica becomes an utterly compelling portrait of a family in crisis.
Reviewed by Pamela Butler (May 22, 2013)
Nice, on an overcast sticky day, to slip into a theatre seat and feel like you’ve just entered a homey pub somewhere in the middle of Ireland. The wind is howling just outside the door, and the pub is a welcoming shelter, well worn, softly lit, a warm glowing fire in the corner. The set and lighting designers (Charlie Corcoran and Michael Gottlieb respectively) have accomplished a remarkably strong emotional energy as well as a beautifully designed stage. I was pulled in by the magic of the place at once.
Reviewed by Martin Denton (May 22, 2013)
A young woman is in a hospital in a coma following a serious accident. As a nurse watches over her, beckoning her back to consciousness, and an estranged step-brother and step-sister (her only living relatives) bicker and fret, what does this young woman—Deon is her name—experience? That's one of the questions that Kimberly Pau's intriguing new play In Memory contemplates.
Reviewed by PJ Grisar (May 19, 2013)
Jean Genet’s The Balcony, now playing at the Access Theatre, has always been a play with a lot to say. The 1957 satire is part polemic and part love letter to all our pet perversions and the masks we put on. It spins an enchanting web of illusion while stripping down the fallacies of political posturing, celebrity, and the puppets and props of state and romantic revolutions. Like much of Genet’s work, The Balcony is a play about pretense and the nature of theatrics and role-playing—it’s worth noting that many of his plays were cast untraditionally (The Maids for example, was first performed with a pool of male prisoner-actors presenting women in one of the author's many stays in the clink). The Horizon Theatre Rep’s production has a decidedly more narrow and unambiguous focus than is the fashion for the piece, touching less on the broader themes of affect and being-other and more on the anxiety of a real-world Europe on the brink of economic and political collapse. This context is markedly different from Genet’s time where the threats to Europe and his native France were largely non-domestic but the concept holds water, even when the execution doesn’t.
I WANNA DESTROY YOU
Reviewed by Ed Malin (May 19, 2013)
It's New York during the summer of 2011 (just before the vote that finally legalized same-sex marriage) and one can see a spectrum of gay standards of living. In Chelsea, "the queens look just like the jocks that used to beat them up". In Bushwick, less prosperous folks like roommates Mick (Kieran Mulcare), a waiter, and Beau (Anthony Johnston), a personal assistant who is turning 30 today, try to get through the summer heat. Mick, who was recently assaulted and slashed and so does not feel secure or employable in the universe of New York, has been dating Beau for eight years. Beau is employed as assistant to somewhat abusive author Cecile (Geneva Carr). Happy to have a gay man for "girl talk", Cecile is promoting her latest soft-core romance novel and planning her fourth wedding, to manly man Hal (Jamie Jackson). Cecile has a wedding planner, Daphne (Kathy Searle), who knows Beau through Mick, and who is sleeping with Hal. Hal picked up Daphne next to the stuffed Dodo bird at the Museum of Natural History. Bad heterosexuals....
A DAY IN THE DEATH OF JOE EGG
Reviewed by Ed Malin (May 16, 2013)
Retro Productions brings us back to the brightly-colored Christmas season of 1967 in Bristol, England with A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg. Brian (Matthew Trumbull), a school teacher, and his wife Sheila (Heather Cunningham) are raising their ten year-old daughter Josephine (Becky Byers), who has cerebral palsy. It is a life which they live with dignity but also with much sardonic humor. Often, the characters step into the spotlight and share extended internal monologues. Brian is frustrated with the kids he teaches, and hopes for some romance at home, until he and his wife clash over her past lovers and the guilt trip the doctors have given her as to what may have damaged their daughter's body. There is nothing wrong with "Joe's" brain, but she can't get around without her wheelchair and is prone to epileptic fits. Her spasms are quite disheartening, but the couple are somehow able to carry on a conversation throughout.
Reviewed by Ed Malin (May 14, 2013)
Being fed up and ready to explode is the theme of The Realists by Jelena Kajgo, leader of Belgrade's contemporary-minded Bitef Theatre. This is a universal story, quite well suited to an accelerated place like New York. You will see rational characters pushing themselves to the brink, certain that is it is for their own good.
THE GOLDEN DRAGON
Reviewed by Ivanna Cullinan (May 12, 2013)
How much misogyny can two men put into a 75 minute production? (short pause). A lot. The Play Company’s production of The Golden Dragon is an aggravating experience. In part because there is a lot of talent involved and I strongly suspect that the Play Company would do very well by better pieces, and so I am at a loss as to why they are so unconcerned or oblivious to the casual meanness and overall slightness of this play. Yet in this instance their company goal of connecting us to Who We Are through new plays from around the world has the end result of skillfully producing a work that demonstrates in their own practice the casual misogyny extant in the modern world. Perhaps it is necessary that casualness of the misogyny be considered for awareness to be placed on how blind we are to it, as the productions seems to be.
A PUBLIC READING OF AN UNPRODUCED SCREENPLAY ABOUT THE DEATH OF WALT DISNEY
Reviewed by Rachel Merrill Moss (May 10, 2013)
In a world in which all communication now has the option to take place by purely technological means, where artificial sites of beauty are just as likely to attract hordes as the increasingly spare natural ones, and the possibility of international infamy seems mere mouse clicks away, Walt Disney’s notorious choice to remain cryogenically frozen in order to enable the possibility of future return surely now seems less far-fetched than it would have in the year he purportedly hatched such a scheme. Indeed, it may be possible that the idea of the eternal legend feels more within grasp than ever – everything and anything is within reach of fingertips and everyone has the ability to become a viral star, replicating and reinstating until the cybercows come home.
Reviewed by Martin Denton (May 9, 2013)
There is much that's worthy of encouragement in the work of Spookfish Theatre Company, whose newest play Advance Guard is currently at Horse Trade's Kraine Theatre (where Spookfish is in residence). The co-artistic directors are Kat Yen and Ming Peiffer, who are both young Asian American women and refreshingly offer an alternative, under-sampled voice in the American theater community. And while their last show The ABC's Guide to Getting Famous—which I did not see, but which is supposed to be coming to FringeNYC later this year—spoke directly to their Asian heritage, this current piece confronts a zillion topical issues but the contemporary racial landscape is emphatically not one of them.
Reviewed by Loren Noveck (May 9, 2013)
When Beny’s family fled Chile for America in the violent aftermath of the 1973 coup overthrowing President Salvador Allende, she was just a small child, but she has faint memories of her life in Chile that no one in her family will fully acknowledge. Her sister, Gaby, born in America, knows even less about the history of either their family or their birth country; she barely understands Spanish, her parents’ native language. Their mother often seems paralyzed by her own sense of loss. So when Tio Ignacio, their mother’s uncle who’s been living in France after being expelled from Chile, comes to visit, Beny sees a chance to finally get some of her questions answered, and even, perhaps, to find a role model who can help her navigate among the worlds she inhabits.
ALONDRA WAS HERE
Reviewed by Andrew Rothkin (May 8, 2013)
Chisa Hutchinson’s stirring, thought-provoking play Alondra Was Here, beautifully staged by Jade King Carroll, interweaves dissimilar elements into a cohesive whole: street jargon and colorful poetry; gritty realism and fanciful dream/nightmare imagery; hopeful longing and utter despair, all set against a backdrop of cold steel and concrete.
THE NOTEBOOK OF TRIGORIN
Reviewed by Mary Notari (May 7, 2013)
There is a cosmic meeting of two minds and hearts, separated by several generations and several thousands of miles, occurring in a small theater in downtown NYC as we speak. The Attic Theater Company’s current production of The Notebook of Trigorin, Tennessee Williams’ adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, at The Flea is the first time it’s ever been staged in New York.
I'LL EAT YOU LAST
Reviewed by Richard Hinojosa (May 7, 2013)
It’s a real treat to have Bette Midler talking to you so up close and personal. New York audiences have not had the pleasure of seeing her on stage in over 30 years! That’s far too long. And even though she has not come here to sing (she sits the entire show but this is no Delores De Lago number) or delight us with her adorable pitter-pattering shuffle across the stage, she delights nonetheless with this outrageous character. If she feels out of her element doing a one-woman play it doesn’t show one bit. I’ve always thought of Midler as an accomplished actor and this performance confirms my belief.