Current NYC Theater Reviews
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.
BUNTY BERMAN PRESENTS...
Reviewed by Avi Glickstein (May 4, 2013)
A common problem in new plays and musicals is that they don’t end as well as they begin. It starts with a great idea but doesn’t go anywhere. Bunty Berman Presents…, The New Group’s new musical playing at Theater Row, has the opposite problem. It ends much better than it begins. So for those who may feel tempted to bolt when the lights come up at intermission…don’t. The show really only finds its voice in the second act.
THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL
Reviewed by Cory Conley (May 2, 2013)
Carrie Watts, the cunning and elderly matriarch at the center of Horton Foote's TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL, is the ultimate in starring roles for an actress of a certain age. From Geraldine Page to Lois Smith, Mrs. Watts has been enlivened by veteran actresses who can play the role's unusual mixture of gentle and relentless.
Reviewed by Julie Congress (May 2, 2013)
In the opening number, Pippin’s Leading Player promises the audience that “we got magic to do, just for you”. And, in this new revival from Director Diane Paulus, boy, do they ever. Cleverly staged in a circus, this vibrant, imaginative, energetic production is sheer theatrical joy.
Reviewed by Loren Noveck (May 2, 2013)
The house lights don’t go down right away when Steven Levenson’s Core Values starts, trapping us all in the dingy, claustrophobic office conference room depicted onstage. A flustered, anxious young woman unpacks enough miniature-size Poland Spring bottles that we already know the meeting about to take place will last a very, very long time. For anyone who’s ever worked an office job, the uncomfortable familiarity is already kicking in, and it’s only going to get worse when the purposefully jovial boss starts writing on the whiteboard and we realize we’re witness to a weekend-long in-house retreat, attended by most (though not all) of the staff of a small, struggling travel agency, henceforward to be known as Skyline Leisure Management.
KINDS OF LIGHT
Reviewed by Leslie Bramm (May 4, 2013)
What a beautiful mess the creative mind can be. What a struggle it is for the artist to push past ennui, and procrastination to engage in the act of making his art. Frustration, isolation, and lack of inspiration are some of the personal demons one confronts when trying to give flight to the little birds of the imagination. The act is also delicate, fragile. It can be torn to shreds at any given moment and the artist oft has to go to emotional and psychic extremes just to get an idea to stick.
Reviewed by Julie Congress (April 29, 2013)
“Brave” was one of the first words out of my companion’s mouth after seeing Flux Theatre Ensemble’s Sans Merci and I can think of no description better fitting. It’s brave of director Heather Cohn to stage a two-and-a-quarter hour play without an intermission (don’t worry – the production is highly successful at actively holding the attention that long). It is brave of playwright Johnna Adams to tackle lesbianism, political activism, college-age death, homophobia, John Keats and republicanism. Brave are actors Rachael Hip-Flores and Alisha Spielmann for so honestly, intimately and nakedly (in all senses of the word) portray the love between two young women. And brave is the Flux Ensemble, for presenting this meaty new tragedy.
Reviewed by Ed Malin (May 4, 2013)
What does Revolution mean to people in Cuba, especially the underprivileged? Although everyone is supposed to be equal, films like Strawberry and Chocolate show the troubles, along with the glamor, of the gay lifestyle in La Habana. In Eduardo Machado's Mariquitas--the title is colloquial for, among other things, a plantain dish and gay men--it is 2008 and a bed and breakfast which is friendly to man-seeking men from Europe is doing good business. Ramon (Omar Chagall) owns the establishment, which allows him, even in a Communist country, to consider himself in a higher class than his driver and much younger lover Ricardo (Liam Torres). Ricardo considers himself a friend of Jose Maria (Oscar Hernandez), an older gentleman from Spain who is dying of lung cancer yet continues to visit two weeks out of every year to make love to a male prostitute named Tito (Carlos A. Valencia). Tito, one of many men in this piece taking money for gay sex, is officially married to a woman, who tolerates the prostitution because they need the money. "Is everyone in Cuba bisexual?" someone ponders, and though that question could probably be applied to the population of the whole world, it underscores the conflict in this play. There are some references to a 1960s Polish film Everything for Sale, showing each character beholden to some resented master.
Reviewed by Martin Denton (May 1, 2013)
Honey Fist, the newest play by August Schulenburg, starts off feeling like one kind of play, turns into another kind for quite a while, and then ends up going off in an entirely unexpected direction at its conclusion. I mean this, please realize, as a compliment: this meandering, rambling yarn—which is in part about the nature and power of the yarns (stories) that we create about our lives, for ourselves and for consumption by others—is lyrical and touching and profound.
Reviewed by Steven Cherry (April 29, 2013)
Owned, at the TBG Theatre until May 11th, is a three-person play about the dark space at the intersection of ambition, lust, and friendship. It’s a good play, though in some ways it’s not dark enough.