Archive for the ‘Theater Reviews and Commentary’ Category

August Wilson Ending on a High Note: RADIO GOLF at Everyman

And thus the struggle over ways of thinking and dealing commences. For Hicks, the past that Sterling and Barlow are protecting has no value, and the validity of Barlow’s legal claim is irrelevant. From his standpoint, when the powers that be have firmed up their plans to a certain point, mere legality must step aside. For Wilks, abandoning the rule of law leads to chaos, even if following that principle leads to results that disappoint the oligarchs. I’ll leave it to audiences to discover how the clash of perspectives works out, but it is clear that, regardless of what becomes of Aunt Ester’s home, Wilks’ choice to adhere to the rule of law and to honor his roots and ancestors would destroy his great plans, his business partnership, and probably his marriage. Though, of course, regardless of the outcome, such a choice would also make him a hero.

Forbidden Love and Royalty: Dueling Themes in E2 at REP Stage

Clearly, the story of a king who would, legally speaking, seem like the safest person in the land, but who nonetheless is slain, as is his lover, because their relationship is considered taboo, seems facially like a perfect vehicle to provide that treatment. But it simply isn’t, or at least not without more work. There are too many complications unique to a royal situation, as this play cannot help showing.

An Old But Surprisingly Modern Comic Treasure: THE KNIGHT OF THE BURNING PESTLE at Baltimore Shakespeare Factory

The Knight of the Burning Pestle is rarely produced, and it certainly deserves the occasional outing, if only as a reminder that our forbears were just as interested in trying experiments with theatrical genre and form as we are.

Cold-Hearted But Great Fun: A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER at Dundalk Community Theatre

Getting Americans in a frame of mind where they’ll despise British aristocrats is like shooting fish in a barrel (unless they’re Americans who happen to be still in a daze from a viewing of Downton Abbey). And here the setup provides all the inducement we Yanks need to salivate for Limey blue blood: a highborn family, the D’Ysquiths, disowning a daughter because she eloped with a lowborn foreigner, and (most of them) behaving in impeccably beastly ways towards her son Monty.

Personality Verging on Personhood: PROXY at Rapid Lemon

One of the things drama does so well is to make us think and feel about the vectors a society is following. And one of the things happening in our society that drama needs to address is our headlong rush into technology with a personality verging on personhood. Proxy is a thoughtful and perceptive consideration of that rush.

Making Deportation Politics Personal: MISS YOU LIKE HELL at Baltimore Center Stage

All politics is personal, as the saying goes. Seldom is this point made with greater dramatic clarity than in Miss You Like Hell. The ending is powerful, but because of the politics. Miss You Like Hell illustrates, in a very personal and detailed way, how deportation policies damage and destroy lives and families, even away from the border. An enjoyable and uplifting evening of theater.

BRIGHT HALF LIFE at Strand Theater Company

Bright Half Life is presented in a totally nonsequential fashion, and at nearly breakneck speed much of the time. We are left to piece together the whole story from dozens of fragments that appear and pass quickly, which can be both exhausting and exhilarating. And not just for us in the audience; this calls for enormous flexibility on the part of the performers too. Moments of ecstasy are juxtaposed with moments of terror, joy and sadness arrive cheek-by-jowl, and certain incidents are repeatedly revisited. The two performers must be emotional quick-change artists, and I found myself amazed watching as Ayesis Clay and Katharine Vary worked their way intrepidly through those changes.

From Farcical to Sombre in PERFECT ARRANGEMENT at Fells Point Corner Theatre

The title Perfect Arrangement refers to the compact of a male gay couple and a lesbian couple to hide in plain view from the disapproval of the world in 1950 by posing as two straight couples living in adjoining halves of a Georgetown duplex. The two halves are secretly connected through the residences’ respective front closets, a passage that enables each real couple to reunite at night, unnoticed by the world outside. Such a setup is custom-made for farce.

CABARET at Olney Theatre Center Keeps Us Gasping

Keeping us gasping is what Cabaret in all of its incarnations has always been about. Gasping at the opulence, gasping at the decadence, gasping at the heedlessness and the horror. It is intentionally strong stuff, and if it delivers, then it succeeds. And by that yardstick, this version, whatever it may or may not owe to its predecessors, is a smashing success.

The Guys Are Alright: SUPPORT GROUP FOR MEN at Contemporary American Theater Festival

Support Group for Men will send you away happy. There is nothing profound or challenging in this show: just a well-crafted and very funny comedy of manners, specifically the manners of the male of Species Homo Americanus, youthful to mid-life, as observed in a middle-class Chicago habitat.