Show Information

Glenn's September 2013 Shows

October 7, 2013

Report for The Month of September 2013

©GLENN LONEY 2013

THIS-WAS-THE-MONTH-THAT-WAS…

Hardly Unpacked from climbing up Crags to visit Dracula-Castles in Romantic-Romania, Your Roving Arts-Reporter was somewhat Unprepared for the Sudden-Onslaught of New-Stage-Productions.

Godot & Shakespeare loomed.

In fact, Orlando Bloom loomed, as a Marlon-Brando-Romeo: at least he had a Motorcycle

As for Sam Beckett’s Godot, it was to be offered—for the First-Time-Ever—in Yiddish, as well as in English.

Although Irishman-Beckett wrote it in French—he’s buried in a Famous-French-Cemetery—No-one thought to produce it in that Famous-Language.

Somewhere, I found a Listing for Waiting for Waiting for Godot, so we’ll just have to Wait-&-See

PASSING-GLANCES AT SHOW SCENES-SEEN:

What a Thrill to begin the Fall-Play-Season with so many really Outstanding-Shows!

In some cases, however, the Production-Values were superior to the Scripts they attempted to Illuminate

Shlomo Carlebach & Nina Simone’s SOUL DOCTOR [★★★]

A Real Winner! But Is This the Way To Get Young Jews Back Into the Synagogues?

Robin Bett Levenhurst was on the line, calling frantically: "I’ve just got two tickets to Soul Doctor! I want to share it with you!”

I had just returned from Bucharest, so it was something of a surprise to hear from a former Grad-Student whom I’d not seen in years.

Robin’s Dermatologist, it seems, is the brother of Eye-Specialist Jeremy Chess, who is also the Major-Producer of Soul Doctor, now playing at Circle-in-the-Square.

Dressed fit for a Garden-Party at Buckingham-Palace, Robin ran to greet me when I entered the Lobby.

"Dr. Jeremy wants to meet you. I told him you were my Theatre-Professor & an Expert on Play-Production!”

Wearing one of those Ubiquitous-Baseball-Caps, Dr. Jeremy suddenly materialized, just as we were to enter the Ted-Mann-Inspired Theatre-Space.

One might even now refer to it as a Hallowed-Space: not only because the Spirit of Ted Mann still haunts the place, but also because the Incarnation of Shlomo Carlebach, the Rock-‘n-Roll-Rabbi, has come to life on stage.

Along with the lovely Essence of Nina Simone

Robin had probably told Dr. Jeremy about my years of reporting for Theatre-Crafts & Theatre-Design-&-Technology, which may indeed have given me some kind of Expertise.

Accompanied by a Concerned Co-Producer—also wearing one of those Baseball-CapsDr. Jeremy was eager to know what I thought about the Show’s Potential.

Even though I had not yet entered the Auditorium, now seething with Old-Men wearing Yarmulkes. Some were even wearing Neck-Braces

Dr. Jeremy assured me that this was a True-Story—even a Serious-Narrative—even though it had lots of Show-Stopping-Musical-Numbers.

To lighten-things-up, said Dr. Jeremy, they had included some "Corny-Jokes.”

"Shtik, we call it,” he informed me.

Well, after 40 years of teaching Theatre in New York, I do know what Shtik is…

I liked best that one about what Christians did with that Rabbi they have nailed to a Cross.

But, no, I did not know that Nina Simone had given Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach the Musical-Inspiration he needed for his Musical-MinistryBlues transforms Klezmer!—bringing Hope-&-Joy into the Streets, just as that Mystical-Rabbi had done in Pre-Nazi-Vienna.

What’s more, although I was reporting on the Summer-of-Love in Golden-Gate-Park—even writing about Hippies-Living-in-Caves for LIFE-Magazine—somehow I missed Rabbi Shlomo’s All-Faiths-Temple of Peace-&-Love in Haight-Ashbury.

But don’t you miss out on it now!

Eric Anderson is a vibrant Shlomo, with Amber Iman, a radiant & beautifully-gowned Nina Simone.

All their Hits are here!

Dr. Jeremy told me he had worked for ten-years to get this show produced.

So I told him he has a Real-Winner. You cannot go wrong when you begin with Klezmer!

During the First-Act, however, Robin was worried that perhaps Shlomo was being a bit too Orthodox, too Traditional, for Broadway-Audiences.

His Super-Religious-Brother had already become Quasi-Hassidic

Well, Broadway-Audiences already know all about Tevya & Tradition, don’t they?

As the now Joyous-Audience joined in with the Musical-Merriment—clapping & stomping, reaching out to Performers streaming into the Seating-AreasRobin was ecstatic:

"This is what we need to get Young People back into the Synagogues! Don’t you agree?”

But, raised as a Methodist, I really hadn’t given much thought to the Minyan-Problems of Rabbis with Ancient-Congregations

Luis Bravo’s FOREVER TANGO [★★★★]

Razor-Sharp Precision-Dancing: Those Darting-Stilettos Could Geld an Unwary-Latino!

Flamenco from Granada is all very well, especially when the Dark-Eyed-Señoritas swish & swirl those fantastic-flounces on their Shimmering-Gowns.

But there’s nothing in the Hispanic/Latino Dance-Tradition that can match the excitement of Demonically-Driven Tango-Duos!

With the sudden downward-thrusting of either Male-Femures or Lissome-Feminine-Legs, Tango-Partners often seem at risk of Serious-Stabbings

The arrival in Manhattan of Luis Bravo’s Tango-Troupe is always a welcome change from routine American-Idolization of Contemporary-Forms.

As well as providing the opportunity to savor superb Masters of the Bandoneón. No, those are not Accordions

Luis Fonsi was the Vocal-Star among all those Super-Charged Tangoistes. His smoky Longings-for-Love had some Ladies almost swooning.

Amid all the Sweltering-Passions & Macho-Posturing, several Comic-Tango-Turns were not only delightful, but also expertly performed.

Watching Tango-Masters, you really want to be able to see their Flashing-Footwork clearly.

I was given Aisle-Seats almost at the edge of the Stage. What I saw, for the most part, were the Hair-Cares of the Tall-Women seated in front of me.

Upper-Bodies of Tango-Dancers are less Mobile, even if their Focused-Faces do tell some Stories

So, at the Interval, I moved to the back of the Orchestra, where the brilliance of the Troupe was sharply seen.

Among the Outstanding-Duos: Juan Paolo Norvath & Victoria Galoto; Hernán Lazart & Florencia Blanco; Diego Ortega & Aldana Silveyra, & especially Natalia Turelli & Ariel Manzanares.

Lauren Yee’s THE HATMAKER’S WIFE [★★★]

You May Make Great Hats, But You Really Need To Hug Your Wife Once in a While…

David Margulies’ Bravura-Performance as an irascible Öst-Jüde Immigrant-Hatmaker is worth all the Gradually-Unfolding-Magical-Realism in Lauren Yee’s Chinese-Box of a drama.

The Hatmaker’s Wife has evolved over the past year, in which Yee was The-Playwrights-Realm’s Page-One-Playwright at Playwrights-Horizons.

Stephanie Wright Thompson plays a Young-Woman, who has just moved into a Vacated-House, with her Lumpy-Husband [Frank Harts], who soon turns into a Golem.

The Wall [Megan Byrne] begins to speak to her, as Pages of a Narrative about the Hatmaker & his Long-Suffering-Wife [Marcia Jean Kurtz] begin to drop down from the Ceiling—which, fortunately does not have a Voice of its Own.

Peter Friedman plays a Next-Door-Neighbor to the Hatmaker, who is called Hetchman.

We were warned at the Outset that there would be No-Intermission, but that the Play was only about 90-Minutes-Long.

To me, this seemed an Eternity, until the HouseWalls & All—split-asunder.

Well, you see, there’s a Secret about this House & about the Young-Woman, but you will have to go down to Theatre-Row to discover just what that is…

Winsberg, Zachary, & Weiner’s FIRST DATE [★★★★]

Something To Sing About, But Be Careful When You Google:

Good-Jewish-Boy Meets Dangerous-Catholic-Girl—Can This Mating-Date Work?

Not only does First-Date have terrific Production-Values, it also has a Love-Damaged-Duo at its center with whom any Audience could Fall-in-Love: Handsome but diffident Zachary Levi & beautiful but kooky Krysta Rodriguez.

There are some hilarious Musical-Numbers, notably the one visualizing the Religious-Problems of a Jew marrying a Catholic.

Suddenly most of the Cast turns Hassidic, appalled by the Possibility that a Good-Jewish-Boy might marry a Fast-Girl who is not only a Roman-Catholic, but also possibly Latino or Hispanic!

Almost immediately, the Hassids turn into Vestment-Wearing-RCs: this Old-Cultural-Saw cuts both ways…

Both Potential-Mates are advised—even heckled—by Friends-&-Relatives who are not actually in the Bar, but present In-Spirit.

As the Clean-Cut Aaron, Zach Levi seems quite a Catch, right from the start.

How could his Bride-to-Be, Allison [Kate Loprest], have deserted him at the very moment Two should become One?

Actually, the Cast-of-Seven plays even more Roles, but Kristofer Cusik is especially hilarious as a Screamer, who intends to save his Chum, Casey/Krysta, from Domestic-Bliss.

At the Close, he finds his Own-Mate in Blake Hammond’s Lovable-Waiter/Barkeep.

Also in this Delightful-Dating-Dance are the attractive Sara Chase & the edgy Bruce Ryness.

Among the many Winning-Songs are First Impressions, Awkward Pause, The Things I Never Said, & Something That Will Last.

Austin Winsberg devised the Ingenious-Book, with Music-&-Lyrics by Alan Zachary & Michael Weiner.

Bill Berry directed, with Josh Rhodes responsible for the deft Musical-Staging.

Even if you are old enough to be the Grandparents of this Cast & do not know how to Google, you should be brought delightfully Up-To-Date by First-Date!

Lee Blessing’s A USER’S GUIDE TO HELL, FEATURING BERNARD MADOFF

[Gawd! Worse Than Going There Yourself!]

Did Bernie Give Lee The Rights To His Name & His Story?

Although the previously-estimable Lee Blessing has put his name on this Production, it is anything but a Blessing.

George Bernard Shaw’s Don Juan in Hell would have been a much more rewarding Rental-Choice for the Atlantic-Theatre to offer in their Sub-Basement-Space in the Google-Building.

This Horrific-Vision of the Nether-Regions was not an Atlantic-Offering, however. The Space was empty so it was rented to the Project-Y-Theatre-Company.

After suffering through this Show, one can only ask Y or Why?

In Blessing’s Imagination, Bernie Madoff arrives in Hell, to be shown-around by a character named Verge.

The Name has nothing to do with On-the-Verge, but is obviously a Knock-Off on the famed Epic-Poet, Virgil, who showed Dante around Hell a long time ago.

Oddly enough, Madoff wants to be Punished, but he cannot understand why he is in Hell, as Jews don’t believe in The-Infernal-Regions.

Just imagine! Having to give up Shrimp, Lobster, & Crab all your Life, when there will be No-Heavenly-Reward for not eating Treyf

Blessing uses his Dramatic-Moment to call into Question all the Variations of God-Centered-Religions.

Bernie ends-up in Heaven—where Adolf Hitler has also Found-Happiness—but GBS had a Better-Idea.

His Don Juan goes to Heaven but begs to be allowed to transfer to Hell, as Heaven is populated with [boring] Good-People, whereas Hell is filled Really-Interesting-Souls!

Ralph Lee’s Mettawee-River-Theatre’s TALIESIN [★★★★]

Be Careful About Who Is Stirring the Pot! You Could Create a Welsh-Myth…

The most wonderful things about Ralph Lee’s annual Forays into Manhattan from Bennington VT & Upstate-New-York are the Remarkable-Puppets & Constructions he makes to illustrate his Musical-Fables.

This Fall, the Mettawee-River-Players came to the Gardens of St. John-the-Divine to share the Old-Welsh-Tale of Taliesin.

When I first heard of the show, I thought it might be about Architecture & Frank Lloyd Wright, who named his Studio in Spring-Green, Wisconsin, Taliesin

No. All the Miraculous-Events occur in Medieval-Wales: Notably in the Corrupt-Court of the High-King, Maelgwyn.

See, there’s this Sorceress, Ceridwen, who has a Pig-Faced-Son. She cooks-up a Brew to give him the Gifts of Inspiration-&-Wisdom.

Unfortunately, the Elixir slops-onto the Kid stirring the Pot. He is reborn as Taliesin & thereby Hangs-a-Tale, which Lee’s energetic Kids animate with Movement, Music, & Song.

Some of the Constructions that Lee has devised for this show are Museum-Quality & should be consecrated at MoMA.

There is a kind of Earnest-Amateurishness about the Performances: something left-over from the Days-of-Peace-&-Love & Bread-&-Puppetry

Ralph Lee’s delightfully inventive Puppets have long been a Major-Feature of Village-Hallowe’en-Parades!

Long May His Banners Wave!

Matt Charman’s THE MACHINE [★★★★★]

Choreographed IBM-Computer Chess-Match with Russian-Grandmaster Garry Kasparov!

This Stunning-Staging in the Park-Avenue-Armory was one of the most striking Theatrical-Productions in Manhattan in recent memory.

But Who really had a chance to see it?

There were less than 20 performances…

Many Broadway-Regulars have no idea that remarkably Innovative-Shows are being programmed over on Park-Avenue.

But how could a Series of Chess-Games between a Russian-Genius & an IBM-Computer be made into an Evening-of-Theatre?

I don’t even play a good Game-of-Checkers, so Chess is far, far beyond me…

How could a Chess-Gambit be made dramatic? How could a Pawn upstage a Queen?

Matt Charman’s highly-charged Drama is more about the intriguing Interactions of variously gifted & challenged Human-Beings than it is about Chess-Moves & Artificial-Intelligence.

But this is not just a Powerful-Play: it is also a Visually-Ingenious-Production in which there is a Dynamic-Choreography not only of People, but also of Set-Elements & Props.

While TV-Cameras zip in & out, Overhead-Images of the Past—as well as the Chess-Match & the fatuous Chess-Commentary—draw our eyes away from the Vigorous-Central-Actions & the flashing Colored-Lights suddenly illuminating Lines-&-Curves in the Black-Stage-Floor, surrounded on four-sides by Bleacher-Seating.

No, an IBM-Computer—known as Deep-Blue, which is trundled-off to the Smithsonian-Institution, after it has defeated the Russian-Grandmaster—is not a Sexy-Object.

But the Mercurial-Genius Garry Kasparov [Hadley Fraser]—long-dominated by his Force-of-Nature-Mother [Francesca Annis]—is greatly taken with the Girl from IBM who is orchestrating-events to the Commercial-Advantage of the Corporation.

Nor is the Taiwanese-Computer-Whiz [Kenneth Lee] immune to the charms of a College-Cheer-Leader whom he loses to his Infatuation for the Perfection of Deep-Blue.

The Entire-Cast is exemplary, especially those who play Multiple-Roles, as do John Ramm, Cornelius Booth, Antonia Bernath, & Lucille Sharp.

Kudos for Josie Rourke [Direction], Lucy Osborne [Design], Mark Henderson [Lighting], & especially for Jonathan Watkins, whose Choreography—even of Inanimate-Objects—is both dynamic & ingenious.

A Twenty-One-Gun-Salute for Alex Poots, who is not only the Innovative-Artistic-Director at the Park-Avenue-Armory, but is also the Creator of the Manchester-International-Festival.

It is impossible that The Machine—especially in this Outstanding-Production—should be seen only in Manchester, at London’s Donmar-Warehouse, & at the Armory.

It should Tour-the-World!

But it has to be presented in an Arena-Theatre-Conformation for Greatest-Impact

Bill Shakespeare & Public-Works’ THE TEMPEST [★★★★★]

Up in Show-Biz-Paradise, Joe Papp Should Be Proud of His Public-Theatre’s Mass-Performances!

Joe Papp, Founder of Shakespeare-in-the-Park, would surely have loved to join his Daughter, Miranda, in Central-Park for a Tempest that featured 200-New-Yorkers on the Delacorte-Stage.

Bravos for Lear deBessonet & Todd Almond!

They were Central to singing-up-a-storm up in Central-Park, with a rousing Community-Theatre-Troupe that made Hurricane-Sandy look tame.

Actually, Todd Almond’s Music-&-Lyrics for Shakespeare or Marlowe’s Tempest are so charming that it would be even more wonderful to enjoy them with a Reduced-Cast.

Almond also is Ariel, Prospero’s Captive-Sprite, a debonair sort of Spirit, with a Mike.

The Idea of getting all the folks up on stage to take part in a Shakespeare-Show is ingenious: Something Joe would have Loved

But you can’t do that for 8-Performances-per-Week:

Three Weekend-Nights were all one could hope-for, when you have a Cast that includes Stage-Struck Singers-&-Dancers from such groups as The Brownsville-Recreation-Center, The Children’s-Aid-Society, Domestic-Workers-United, The Dreamland-Project, The Fortune-Society, Generation-X, Ballet-Tech, & The New-York Taxi-Workers-Alliance.

The Tempest takes place on an Enchanted-Island, ruled over by the Magician-Prospero [a Magisterial Norm Lewis], who—aside from his Virgin-Daughter, Miranda—seems to be the Only-Human in sight, until he causes a Milanese-Ship to Founder.

Lending its Narrative-Fabric to Fantastic-Masques, Tempest is the only play in the Bardic-Canon which can easily be inhabited by Platoons-of-Performers.

This was Great-Fun, an End-of-Summer-Enchantment

Janet Behan’s BRENDAN AT THE CHELSEA [★★★★]

Drunk or Sober, Brendan Behan’s Taking No-Hostages Down on Theatre-Row!

Adrian Dunbar—who is not only playing Brendan Behan in Manhattan, but also has directed himself & an excellent Cast-of-Four—seems a Force-of-Nature.

Just as Brendan was, but with the Difference that he is not really Drunk-on-Stage

Self-Uprooted from his Native-Ireland, Brendan somewhat reveled in his New-York-Notoriety, celebrated not only for his Borstal-Boy, but also for the Broadway-Sensation, The-Hostage.

Although the Show is fictionally-set at the Chelsea-Hotel, we also see Brendan behaving badly at the Algonquin & enjoying the Sea-Air at Fire-Island-Pines

So we not only are exposed to Brendan’s Self-Destructive-Alcoholism, but also to his Bi-Sexuality.

My Late-Chum, the admirable-actor Geoffrey Garland—who actually played the Titular-Hostage on Broadway—could tell a Tale or two about that…

Brendan was an IRA-Fanatic, was confined to a Borstal, & was forever fighting the Fight of a Working-Class-Genius against the repressive Ruling-Class.

Why was it that Dylan Thomas—the Welsh-Drunken-Poet-Genius—appeared on the NY-Scene at about the time that the Irish-Drunken-Poet-Genius was Drinking-Himself-To-Death?

Or was Dylan before Brendan? Memory dims, but didn’t Dylan die in the street by the White-Horse-Tavern?

Brendan collapsed at the Chelsea-Hotel, also famed for the Last-Moments of Sid Vicious & Nancy.

Then there was [or were] Andy Warhol’s Chelsea-Girls

Regina Taylor’s stop. reset. [★★]

Printed-&-Bound-Books Are Over, So What’s Ahead for Folks Who Don’t Want To Be Fired?

That Admirable-Actress, Regina Taylor, is now Playwright-in-Residence at Signature-Theatre.

You may remember her Musical, Crowns, about those Confectionary-Chapeaux proud African-American-Ladies wear for Sunday-Go-To-Meetin’-Services?

The new production of stop. reset. in the Romulus-Linney-Theatre has remarkable Video-Projection-Production-Values!

These Sci-Fi-Fantasies are worth the entire evening!

As it was, several Couples sitting in front of us escaped early-on…

The Problem with stop. reset. is that it is really Five-Plays inside a Play-That-Cannot-Make-Up-Its-Mind.

One Wall of the Funky-Set is crammed with Books!

Black-Books, apparently, for the Elderly Out-of-It Black-Publisher of African-American-Books is facing Merger and/or Extinction.

Books of all Kinds are Over: Digital is Where-It’s-At!

With Twitter, you don’t even need to Read or Spell anymore!

Then there’s the Problem of a Color-Blind-Hiring-Policy in which Non-Blacks have been nourishing—Deep-UnderneathUnworthy-Resentments.

All Taylor’s Characters have Issues, but they pull the Dramatic-Fabric in too many Directions: Taylor really has about Five-Separate-Stories to tell…

As Playwright-in-Residence, she is said to be working on several new Dramas.

Taylor should, instead, go back to the Drawing-Board & turn stop. reset. into a Series.

Mike Daisey’s ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON [Not-Rated, as Only Two-Faces were seen…]

How About Twenty-Nine-Evenings of Mike Daisey’s Rambling-Monologues?

Larissa Tokmakova has painted Twenty-Nine-Paintings of Tarot-Images who may well represent Phases of the Lunar-Cycle, from New-Moon to New-Moon.

Each Evening—in Joe’s-Pub, where Mike Daisey is currently Serial-Monologising—one of these Canvases is Upstaging-Mike.

Everyone gets a Card each Evening. The Card for the Initial-Evening was Venus: The Star who gets what she wants.

On Succeeding-Evenings—if you have the Staying-Power & do not have to Review Thirty-Other-Shows, Matinées-Included, in this Lunar-Cycle—you will have collected a Tarot-Pack.

Including The-Magician, The-Naked-Emperor, The-Hermit, The-Hanged-Man!

Mike’s Previous-Monologue-Marathon was staged in Seattle—where they are said to be Sleepless—spanning Twenty-Four-Hours & was aptly-titled All The Hours of The Day.

As a Monologist, Mike Daisey has been compared to Mark Twain, but that’s not Fair to either of them, as Twain didn’t have Steve Jobs for a Target nor Access to the Internet

Whatever Critic made that comparison has obviously never read any of Mark Twain’s Collected-Works.

If so, he or she surely would have noticed that Samuel Clemens does not Punctuate almost every Sentence with the Expletives: "Shit” & "Fuck.”

Possibly this Erudite-Commentator was thinking of Hal Holbrook in Mark-Twain-Tonight?

But even Hal would never insert such Vulgarities into an account of Huck Finn on the Raft with Jim

I’ve been a Mike-Daisey-Fan from the first time I heard him in Joe’s-Pub.

But a Little Goes a Long-Way

Rambling-Remembrances can be amusing, but, When-the-Day-Is-Done, you really want to know: How Did You Get That Sofa off the Street & What Became of the Stiletto that Stabbed-Bert-Brecht’s-Corpse?

George Kelly’s PHILIP GOES FORTH [★★★★★]

You Don’t Have To Go To New-York To Be a Playwright, But Try Getting-Produced Out-of-Town!

Jonathan Bank has Done-It-Again!

Not only has he unearthed a Totally-Forgotten American-Play, but he & his Mint-Theatre also have given it a First-Class-Production.

Granted, the Handsome-Period-Settings are a bit smaller than they would have been on Broadway, when George Kelly’s play about being Stage-Struck-in-Manhattan was premiered.

Probably Kelly’s best-known drama is The Show-Off, revived years ago on Broadway with Helen Hayes as Ma Fisher. Kelly’s best-known Family-Relation was, of course, Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco

In College, Philip has been bitten by the Play-Writing-Bug, but his Overbearing-Father wants him to join him in his Seven-Day-Week-Dedication to Making-Money.

So Philip Takes-a-Stand & goes off to New-York, to live in a kind of Arts-Boarding-House, filled with Kooks, Dreamers, Losers, & Failures.

Guess What?

Philip really has No-Talent for Playwriting. Not just Anyone can write a Good-Play!

Well, Kelly must have learnt that the Hard-Way. But it was Good of him to warn-off other Aspirants to the Comic-Mask.

Surprise! Philip has a Real-Talent for Business!

So, there is a Reconciliation & we learn that even his Gruff-Old-Dad had once tried to Write-a-Play!

The Characters with whom Kelly has populated his Instructive-Exercise in Social-Drama—It’s almost a Shavian-Problem-Play—are Types, but they are so interestingly & affectionately Delineated, that it is a Joy to see them brought so Vitally-To-Life by a Uniformly-Excellent-Cast!

Almost Unfair not to name All, but Cliff Bemis [Phil’s Dad], Kathryn Kates [Mrs. Ferris, the Landlady], Christine Toy Johnson [Phil’s Aunt], & Bernardo Cubria [Phil] were especially-engaging.

Bravi for Jerry Ruiz [Direction], Steven C. Kemp [Stage-Design], & Carisa Kelly [Costume-Design, but No-Relation to either George Kelly or Princess Grace. At least, as far as is Known].

Anyone who can Dress-a-Set the way Joshua Yocom has done with all those Props in Mrs. Farris’ Boarding-House deserves a Special-Award

This is a Show-Not-To-Be-Missed, but the Run is Limited!

Ethan Coen’s WOMEN OR NOTHING [★★★]

Meet a Gold-Star-Lesbian! One-Half of the Coen-Brothers Writes a Full-Length-Play!

Just in case you didn’t already know, a Gold-Star-Lesbian is a Woman who has Never-Slept-with-a-Man.

Gretchen & Laura want to have a Child. But they need more than a Sperm-Donor & a Turkey-Baster.

So Gretchen [Halley Feiffer] hides all the Family-Photos of the Two-Women-Together.

Then she clears-out, so Chuck [Robert Beitzel] can be, in effect, seduced by Laura [Susan Pourfar], who shakes a Mean-Cocktail-Shaker as though she were trying to Bruise-the-Booze inside.

Laura is a widely-admired Concert-Pianist. Nonetheless, she is Unsure-of-Herself.

Her Practice-Grand is seen on the floor above the Stylish-Set, but it is Never-Played, alas.

The Morning-After, Laura’s gabby Mother [Deborah Rush] turns up too early, so we get to see Chuck’s White-Abdominals, as he puts on his shirt, preparatory to leaving.

There is a Lot-of-Talk—some Spates seem to go on Endlessly—but Laura’s Mother’s Ditzy-Observations are Worth-the-Wait.

Still, wouldn’t it be wonderful if Ethan Coen would get back to the Studio with his Brother & make another Fargo or No Country for Old Men?

David Cromer directed.

Sam Beckett’s WAITING FOR GODOT—In Yiddish, Yet Already [★★★★]

Didi & Gogo Really Have No-Place To Go, So Why Not Wait by The-Tree for Godot?

The Tree!

That Tree

After Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot was premiered, Theatre-Intendants all over West-Germany were in a frenzy to mount a Distinctive-Production.

Each was stuck with the Actors he already had in his Subsidized-Repertory-Company, so How could the Staging in Mannheim be different from that in Kassel?

Or the Mounting in Karlsrühe from that in Frankfurt-am-Rhein?

There’s only one Central-Stage-Prop in Warten-auf-Godot: THE-TREE…

After Myriad-Godot-Premieres—from Hamburg down to Stuttgart, Augsburg, Munich, & BeyondWest-Germany’s major Theatre-Journal, Theater-Heute, published a Two-Page-Spread featuring Photos of All-Those-Trees!

Down at the Castillo-Center, on West-42nd-Street, Moshe Yassur’s Yiddish-Godot also has the Obligatory-TREE.

But, even more important—when the Audience is also waiting for Godot, who Never-ComesMoshe also has one of the best Gogo-&-Didi-Teams I have ever seen.

What’s more, DidiVladimir, to those who do not know him well—has also translated Beckett’s French-Text into Yiddish. This is more of a Feat than most Viewers—who do not read the Program-Bios—can imagine.

Shane Baker is not Jewish!

One might say that Baker became Yiddish over the years…

He also became a very good Actor—with a penchant for Vaudeville-Routines that work very well in his Interplay with Gogo, or Estragon, a Grumpy-Old-Man in the Middle-of-Nowhere.

As soon as Godot-Stagings began to spread like Wildfire, all over Western-Europe, not only Critics & Audiences were asking: What Does It All Mean?

Also Asking were Stage-Directors & Actors, who were cast as Didi, Gogo, Pozzo, & Lucky.

The Angelic-Blond-Boy who came to say that Godot would be coming Another-Day performed as he was Directed, one assumes…

Well, of course, Any-Intellectual could have told you—as many did—that Godot was about Our-Existential-Angst about Existence.

But Who is the Godot for whom We-Are-All-Waiting?

Is He God? Or—as Irishman-Beckett was living & writing in France—is that –ot Suffix a Diminutive?

You know: Like a Little-God? A Godette?

Or is He really the Longed-For-Messiah?

So Long-in-Coming, but so Ardently-Desired, at least by Pious-Jews

Of course, for Christians, He has already been Here once, but He-Will-Come-Again to Judge the Evil-Doers & the Enemies of All-Right-Thinking-Christians.

Romanian-born Moshe Yassur does not have that Theological-Frame-of-Reference. He was born a Jew, but was able escape Nazi-Dominated-Europe to Palestine.

Moshe—he was my Brooklyn-College-Student & I am very Proud of Him & his Dedication to Modern-European-Theatre—got his Foundation in Theatre in Paris, so he was near the Beckett-Fountain.

Not only did Moshe & his Admirable-Partner, Dr. Beata Bennett, create their own Theatre-Home in Manhattan for New-European-Dramas, but Moshe eventually returned to Romania to re-found the Yiddish-Theatre in Iassy, where it was born!

So he has a somewhat Special-Perspective from which to view the Philosophical-Conundrum that is Warten-auf-Godot.

Could it be that Beckett—who escaped from the Nazis, when in the French-Resistance, but lost a dear Friend to their Death-Mills—was writing about Jews who had Survived-the-Holocaust?

Could the Whip-Wielding-Tyrant Pozzo—restlessly driving his Robotic-Slave Lucky across the Empty-Wilderness—be yet another Survivor of the Holocaust? Or one of its Damned-Perpetrators?

The Über-Kritik Martin Esslin was quick to label Godot as one of those Theatre-of-the-Absurd-Plays.

In Godot, however, it is not the Play that is Absurd: it is the Empty-Environment in which these Unfortunates exist.

But there is always Hope. Just when Didi is ready to Give-Up, he decides he must Keep-on-Going.

The Little-Angel-Boy comes twice—in Act-One & Act-Two—to assure him that Godot is indeed coming. Just Not-Today.

There must always be Hope: That Thing-with-Feathers

When Act-Two begins, that Barren-Tree has sprouted a few Feathers: No, Leaves, Leaves!

I bless Moshe for what he has Wrought, in conceiving & achieving this Existential-Production, but I also thank Shane Baker, David Mandelbaum [Gogo], Rafael Goldwaser [the ironically-named Lucky], Avi Hoffman [Pozzo] & Nicholas Jenkins [Boy] for Bringing-It-To-Life!

For those for whom Yiddish is a Riddle, a Kabalistic-Mystery, there are Projected-Titles, both in English & in Russian.

But, for Your-Roving-Arts-Reporter, what they spoke on Stage was to me almost More-Understandable than English.

Although I learned Hoch-Deutsch at UC/Berkeley, when I came to teach in West-Germany, I mastered Bayerischer-Deutsch, so Yiddish is a bit like Yet-Another-Dialect.

I made a point of Documenting-in-Photos as many Concentration-Camps & Death-Mills as I could: Sachsenhäusen, Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen, Mittelbau-Dora, Auschwitz, Mauthhäusen…

When I was teaching our American-Occupation-Troops in Dachau—we took-over the Gestapo-Kaserne there!—I was surprised to realize that none of my Sergeants, Corporals, or Privates had Any-Idea of what was on the other side of the Wall beside our Barracks-Classroom:

The Original-Gas-Ovens…

I know outstanding German-Stagings of Waiting-for-Godot only from what was then West-Germany.

On the Other-Side of what we then called The-Berlin-Wall, another Murderous-Tyranny had been established.

It seemed Hopeless that The-Wall would ever be Torn-Down

But Look-What-Happened!

Leaves are still growing on the Trees lining Unter-den-Linden!

But Godot still has not come: Not to the Germans, not to Us

Sam Beckett! Where are you, now that we need you?

[Incidentally, tonight I saw Beckett at the Castillo. Tomorrow, I’ll be seeing Inge at the Beckett…]

William Inge’s NATURAL AFFECTION [★★★]

It’s Not Easy Being Hungry-for-Love When You Are Paying-All-The-Bills…

Just before I went down to Theatre-Row to see a Revival of William Inge’s fraught Family-Drama, Natural-Affection, I received a Letter from Cousin-Sharon who is writing a Loney-Family-History.

This Paragraph caught my Eye: "I am not sure if you know the circumstances of Bob Gates’ Death, but his tall, good-looking Son developed some Mental-Issues later in life and actually killed Bob when Bob stopped by his Son’s Apartment one day to check on him.”

Well, there you have, in essence, the Climax of Natural-Affection.

Inge deliberately crafted a Shocker, but he Populated-It with Characters who are almost Cartoons.

Sue Barker [Kathryn Erbe] is a hard-working, hard-driving Business-Woman who had to put her Babe in an Orphanage in order to survive herself.

Getting-Older & Hungry-for-Love, she is sharing with Bernie [Alec Beard]—who doesn’t want to Get-Married & who is trying to sell Cadillacs-on-Commission.

Bernie is having an Intermittent-Affair with the Blonde-&-Slutty Claire [Victoria Mack], who lives across the Hall with her Alcoholic-&-Ruttish-Husband, Vince [John Pankow], who has a Letch for Bernie

We get to see a lot of Bernie not-fully-dressed, so you know what Sue, Claire, & Vince see in him.

Over the Years, Sue has been going to see her Son, the slight & wary Donnie [Chris Bert], in various Homes & Institutions.

It’s Christmas-Eve, but Donnie has just been released, on condition that he be able to stay with his Mother.

This is rather inconvenient, not only because the Apartment is so small, but also because Bernie doesn’t want any Competition for Sue’s Attentions.

The instant Claire sees Donnie, she has him in her Cross-Hairs, possibly hoping for him in her Pubic-Hairs later on…

Bernie just crashed one of those Cadillacs, so there goes his Quasi-Employment & Self-Respect.

He storms out of the Apartment, leaving Sue alone with Donnie, who suddenly shows an Unnatural-Affection for his Horrified-Mother.

She rushes out, leaving the Coast-Clear for Claire, who is then Stabbed-to-Death by Donnie

Merry-Christmas, Everyone!

Inge made a great deal of Money from his Plays. He even had a Swimming-Pool in his Pad, where Street-Lads were occasionally invited for a Swim & Whatever.

He died a Sad-Old-Man

Elevator-Repair-Service’s ARGUENDO [★★★★★]

Will the Sight of an Erect-Nipple Lead to Hard-Drugs? Nudity in Our Highest-Court!

It’s all about Choreography!

The Armchairs of the Supremes are in Constant-Motion, scooting around the Stage, as does the Lawyers-Podium.

On the Huge-Screen behind all this Frenetic-Activity, venerable Judicial-Rulings zoom Up & Down & Sideways, like Talmud-Torah-Commentaries gone Crazy.

At Issue before the Justices of the Supreme-Court is the Question: Is Nude-Dancing an Exercise of Freedom-of-Speech, as guaranteed by Our-Rugged-Constitution?

Is an Entertainment-Facility that you have to Pay-Admission to Enter, really a "Public-Place,” at least in Indiana?

Are Family-Values at risk if Randy-Gents pay Money to look at Lady-Dancers with Naked-Titties?

There’s a lot of Innuendo in both the Lawyerly-Arguments Pro-&-Con, as well as in the Responses of Various-Justices, variously impersonated by the Estimable-Company of Elevator-Repairers.

There are also several deliberately Bad-Wigs, as the Big-Wig-Justices take turns also as Lawyers arguing this Nation-Shaking-Case.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg favors Elegant-Lace-Collars on her Sober-Black-Judicial-Robes

While some Shows warn you in advance that there will be Smoke from Herbal-Cigarettes, those Unwary-Folks who took the Elevator to the Third-Floor LuEsther-Theatre—at the Public-Theatre—were warned that there would be Nudity on display!

Fortunately, it wasn’t provided by the Hilarious-Stripper interviewed on the Marble-Steps of the Supreme-Court.

No, it was one of the Lawyers—who took off his clothes, down to a G-Strap, followed by Complete-Frontal-Nudity!

Well! What a Let-Down

There was really Nothing-to-See, down there.

Rather like that Famed-Comment about a Bawdy-Lady in Regency-London who bared All: "She was a Positive-Antidote to Desire!”

The ingenious John Collins deftly-staged his Elevator-Repair Men-&-Women , with Katherine Profeta as his Movement-Dramaturg.

Lucy Thurber’s SCARCITY [★★★★★]

Forget About Horton Foote & Family-Drama! Knock-Down & Drag-Out Family-Values in West-Mass

Tracy Letts’ August, Osage County pales beside the Horrendous-Family-Dynamic thrashing around the tiny stage of the Cherry-Lane-Theatre-Studio.

Lucy Thurber—certainly No-Relation to James Thurber & Walter Mitty!—makes William Inge’s Natural Affection look like a Deliberate-Construct, designed to Shock.

The Alcohol-Fueled-Violence, Bad-Language, & Soul-Destroying-Insults are not designed: they seem Completely-Natural to this Unhappy-Family.

Who knew that there were White-Trash Red-Neck Crackers way up in Massachusetts?

Well, this is a small town in Western-Massachusetts: where everyone knows everyone else, including their Darkest-Secrets

Scarcity—read Scar-City?—is one of five of Thurber’s Hill-Town-Plays, all being simultaneously played by the Rattlestick-Theatre.

Dad is an Unemployed-Unemployable, first seen when he’s brought through his Front-Door in Handcuffs, delivered by the Local-Policeman, who is not only the Cousin of Dad’s also Alcoholic-&-Blowsy-Wife, but who also Lusts after Her & is paying the Family-Bills.

The Law is married to an even more Blowsy-Wife, who is also Sluttish & Unsatisfied

Trapped in this Food-Stamp-Hell is super-smart young Billy & his Fifth-Grade-Genius-Sister, who reads the Tarot-Pack, as well as Jane Austen.

Into their Lives some Metaphoric-Rain must always Fall, but the Intrusion of a Well-Intentioned Rich-Girl New-Schoolteacher—who recognizes Billy as a Very-Smart-Fellow & also Sexy—wreaks Havoc.

All the Actors are Superb—superbly staged by Daniel Talbot—but it’s daunting to think how they can play this Destruction-Derby not once, but Twice on a Matinée-Day

This Exhaustive-Exercise in Material-&-Spiritual-Scarcity should soon move to a Much-Larger-Theatre!

Konstantin Stanislavski would surely be daunted by the Performances of the Cast of Scarcity.

This is Not-Chekhov by a Hundred-Kilometers. Building-a-Character as he prescribed now seems so Antiquated.

What happens on Stage doesn’t seem staged or stagey. It looks & sounds All-Too-Real

Tennesse Williams’ THE TWO-CHARACTER PLAY [★★★★★]

Ben Brantley Says It’s "Hilarious.” With Amanda Plummer & Brad Dourif, It’s Anything But That.

The Curious-Oddity by Thomas Lanier Williams that he quixotically-titled The Two-Character Play is a kind of Chinese-Puzzle-Box of a Southern-Gothic-Horror-Story.

Ben BrantleyChief-Critic for the Paper-of-Record—is reported to have found the Current-Production at New-World-Stages "Hilarious.”

The Murder of a Mother—followed by the Suicide of a Father—is No-Laughing-Matter.

That this Horrific-Event is being Repeatedly-Recalled by the Traumatized-&-Aging-Children of those Doomed-Parents—in a Barren-Framework of a Room—in what appears to be a Play-Within-a-Play- Within-a-Play, acted by Crazies acting Crazies is, however, certainly "Powerful,” a Word-Long-Encomium also invoked by Brantley.

Plummer & Dourif were Terrifying & Tormented, by turns. In their Characters, they evoked the Pity-&-Terror so approved by Aristotle in his appraisal of Greek-Tragedy in the Poetics

Watching the intricate Shadings-of-Emotion in Plummer’s Face-&-Body, it’s challenging to recall that she’s the Daughter of the Unsinkable-Tammy-Grimes.

As for the Admirable-Brad, I interviewed him almost a Century-Ago at the CUNY-Grad-Center, when he was appearing in When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder?

Unlike Beckett’s Godot, who is always promised for Tomorrow, Red Ryder was not coming back.

But Brad Dourif was Moving-Forward!

Turnage & Thomas’ ANNA NICOLE [★★★★★]

Will the Tastelessness of Annna Nicole’s Lifestyle Alienate Opera-Loving-People of Good-Taste?

A Huge Bust is the Catch-Phrase used by Justin DavidsonArchitecture-Critic for New-York-Magazine—to describe the Trendy-Production of Anna Nicole over at BAM, direct from the Royal-Opera, Covent-Garden.

Davidson was fresh from deploring the impending-construction of Elongated-Erections on West-57th-Street, where the Promised-Skyscrapers may overtop the Freedom-Tower.

Actually, Anna Nicole would make a very good Broadway-Show, although its Artistic-Pretensions are a bit more High-Falutin

There are no Taxing-Arias that any talented Broadway-Star could not tackle.

The difference is that Sarah Joy Miller—sporting Fake-Breast-Implants, as Anna Nicole, who married Immense-Wealth—does not have to use a Mike in order to be heard.

For Broadway, a Producer like Daryl Roth—she’s behind Kinky-Boots & Annie—would have to cut the Opera-Sized-Onstage-Chorus by Half or Two-Thirds. That would also save on Costumes

Anyone of Voting-Age surely remembers the Saga-of-Anna-Nicole, who rose from such Humble-Employment as Lap-Dancing to Dancing-with-The-Stars.

When you are born into a Trailer-Court in the American-Southwest—with White-Trash-Family-&-Friends—you really need to devise a Strategy to Escape.

Initially Flat-Chested, Anna Nicole has her Titties-Enhanced, which eventually leads her into the Bed of a Randy-Old-Man [Robert Brubaker], who is smitten with her.

Her Goings-&-Comings are regularly reported on Commercial-TV. Anna is a kind of On-Going-Free-Show, even a Freak-Show

But, when J. Howard Marshall II suddenly expires, his Angry-Heirs deny Anna her share of his Immense-Wealth.

She won’t give up, however, so the Court-Hearings go on & on. She even appears on Larry-King-Live to let Folks know what’s What with her.

Is this Product-Placement on an Opera-Stage?

Richard Thomas’ deliberately shocking Libretto—rich in Profanities & Naughty-Words—chronicles Anna’s Rise-&-Fall, most of the Narrative sung by the Blue-Suited-Chorus, who are also On-Stage-Observers.

Mark-Anthony Turnage was commissioned by the Royal-Opera, Covent-Garden, to compose this Trendy-Work, with a Score that somewhat underscores what is Being-Sung.

Richard Jones’ Staging—ably-abetted by the Sets of Miriam Buether & the Costumes of Nicky Gillibrand—is Stage-Filling, even with Black-Clad-Dancers with TV-Cameras for Heads: to Poke-into-Anna’s-Affairs almost constantly.

Each of the Initial-Six-Cameras is different, but at the Close, the Stage is filled with Cameras of all Sorts-&-Designs, with Black-Legs sprouting-out below…

Even the Front-Curtain of Anna Nicole is a Parody of the actual Covent-Garden-Curtain, just as the frenetic Onstage-Action is a kind of Parody of Anna’s-Life.

Grand-Opera has its own War-Horses featuring Ladies-of-Easy-Virtue: Violetta in Traviata, Manon in Manon-Lescaut, but Anna Nicole is surely the First to have its Libretto packed with Deliberate-Crudities-&-Vulgarities. How about Shit-&-Fuck for starters?

Anna Nicole was a Tabloid-Queen & both she & her Adored-Son died of Overdoses.

Not of TB, like Violetta & Mimi

The TV-Packed-Stage-Finale suggests that she may have died of a Metaphoric-TV-Exposure.

Nonetheless, this production of Anna Nicole is a Visual-Sensation & an Audial-Surprise.

It could Make-It on Broadway.

The Question now, however, is whether the beleaguered New-York City-Opera is going to make it?

Some Seven-Million-Dollars are being begged to keep it afloat.

Steven Sloane conducted what may be one of its Very-Last-Productions

Bill Shakespeare’s ROMEO & JULIET [★★★★★]

Gang-Rumble in the Piazza-Maggiore: Two Young-Bloods Knifed-to-Death!

Orlando Bloom [Romeo] guns his Motorcycle for his Big-Entrance in David Leveaux’s Trendy-Updating of Romeo & Juliet.

He gets a Big-Round of Applause, before he’s even opened his Mouth.

Jane Houdyshell [Nurse] also evokes Clapping-Hands, as she enters, pushing a Bicycle.

Although Shakespeare [or Chris Marlowe] nominally set his Drama of Star-Crossed-Lovers in Renaissance-Verona, they now seem to be somewhere in Brooklyn, with Il Duce di Verona transformed into the Borough-President.

The Capulets could now be considered Upscale-Bed-Stuy, with the Montagues secure over in Park-Slope.

Someone has been Fracking under the Arena-di-Verona—or maybe Prospect-Park?—because there has seldom been seen so much Open-Flame onstage on Broadway.

This is one Performance-Event at which it really would be dangerous to shout Fire in a Crowded-Theatre

If only Il-Duce had instituted Stop-&-Frisk, then, perhaps, the Tragic-Deaths of Mercutio & Tybalt could have been avoided.

That would have been especially welcome as Christian Camargo was excellent—however brief—in the celebrated Queen-Mab-Aria.

Nonetheless, Orlando Bloom is not just a Pretty-Face: as Romeo, he was Ardent, Baffled, & Suicidal.

Truly, almost Everyone spoke their Lines as though they Really-Meant-Them.

Especially affecting was the Juliet of the lovely Condola Rashad.

The famed Balcony-Scene was amusing & touching by turns: One of the Best I’ve seen in recent memory.

Romeo didn’t need a Ladder or Vines; He Chinned himself Up onto the Balcony!

At the Opening, there was this Guy who looked like a Leftover from Occupy-Wall-Street.

He had a White-Dove, which may have been meant to Symbolize something like Peace.

Surprise! Surprise!

He was actually Friar Laurence, but he must have been De-Frocked. Or no longer a Franciscan?

In Real-Life, he is Brent Carver

But the Stage-Director may have wanted to de-stress the Religious-Aspects of the Script?

There were some Deft-Cuts—but not in the Sense of "This was the Unkindest-Cut-of-All”—so we didn’t get to see the County-Paris get cut.

Chris Marlowe may have phoned-in the Cuts from the University-of-Padua, where he is in hiding, for there is still a Sentence-of-Death hanging over him, even after he escaped from England

The Major-Set-Prop was a Great-Bell, with No-Bell-Tower.

It was just Hanging-There, rising & falling…

Afterward, a Colleague reminded me: This isn’t a New-Idea in updating Romeo & Juliet. It’s been done before. Remember West-Side-Story?

Now that you mention it, Yes!

But none of the Jets or the Sharks had onstage Motorcycles

GB Shaw’s YOU NEVER CAN TELL [★★★★★]

Love-Denied, Love-Repressed in Elegant Edwardian-England: Superb-Staging at Pearl-Theatre.

Shaw may not be as Poetic as Shakespeare, but his Astute-Understanding of the Human-Heart still resonates, even though we are no longer in the Edwardian-Era.

When the remarkably-versatile Sean McNall is discovered amid Vintage-Victorian-Dental-Equipment, he becomes Mr. Valentine, a Five-Shilling-Dentist who cannot pay his Rent.

Valentine’s crusty Landlord, Fergus Crampton [Brad Cover], was once married—without Love—to Margaret Clandon [Robin Leslie Brown], a Fierce-Proponent of Women’s-Rights, who has raised the Children she took from Ex-Hubby, Fergus, to raise according to Her-Principles.

So it takes a while & some Wiles for Valentine to win the Hand-&-Heart of Gloria Clandon [Amelia Pedlow], who has a Fortune that will save him from Five-Shilling-Dentistry & pay the Landlord, who is, of course, her Long-Lost-Father.

Not to Overlook the Wisdom-&-Ritual-Elegance of Dan Daily as Walter Boon, the Stately-Waiter in the Elegant-Seaside-Grand-Hotel, where he serves an Elegant-Edwardian-Tea, as well as a Full-Course-Dinner that no-one seems to eat…

The Fact that his Cambridge-Educated-Son [Zachary Spicer] is a QC & a Deciding-Factor in resolving the Clandon/Crampton Family-Problems only underlines Shaw’s impatience with the Rituals of the English-Class-System.

Then there are those Irrepressible-Twins, Dolly & Philip Clandon [Emma Wisniewski & Ben Charles], Two-Wunderkinder

Local-Lawyer Finch McComas [Dominic Cuskern] has his own Legal-Problems.

Not only is this Visually-Stunning-Production a low-budget-exercise in Edwardian-Elegance, it also has the advantage of Shavian Wit &-Wisdom.

The Wonder of Pearl-Theatre-Stagings is that its Repertory-Ensemble seems equal to any Casting-Challenge. All the Actors are splendid & splendidly In-Character in this David-Staller-Directed Period-Piece.

Awards-Nominations for the Scenic-Design of Harry Feiner & the Costumes of Barbara A. Bell.

At Jonathan Bank’s estimable Mint-Theatre, Audiences can often see Period-Productions as handsome as those at the Pearl, but the Mint’s Disadvantage is that it must do Forgotten-Dramas, rather than Real-Winners from the Annals of Theatre-History.

Religious-Folks often speak of that Pearl-of-Great-Price, but at the Pearl-Theatre, the Price is always Right!

Anne Washburn’s MR. BURNS, A Post-Electric Play [00000]

Homer Simpson Is Dead! Long Live Homer Simpson! As for Mister-Burns, He Dead, Too…

Apparently, there has been some sort of Nuclear-Disaster or Plague & some Survivors are trying to revive Memories of the Lost-Past, some of which seem derived from Old-TV-Shows.

As—on Principle—I never watched TV in the Privacy-of-My-Own-Home, I am not familiar with The Simpsons or some of the Other-Trivia this Odd-Group is resurrecting.

Gilbert-&-Sullivan’s The Mikado I did recognize, but that was Small-Reward for sitting-still to watch this Puzzling-Vision of The-Future.

It should have been left in The-Future, to be produced by what remains of Playwrights-Horizons after The-Plague or the Death-of-the-Light

As for this being a Post-Electric-Play, there was definitely a Power-Outage.

What was most puzzling, however, was that this Disintegrative-Work was commissioned, the Recipients being The-Citizens, who have created some amazing Theatre-Projects in the Past—not least that Colorado-Springs-Outing

Horton Foote’s THE OLD FRIENDS [★★★]

All-Star-Lineup for Bad-Behavior in Harrison, TX: With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies?

One thing you have to say for Horton Foote: He seldom writes a Bad-Role for Hallie Foote.

Indeed, in The Old Friends, Hallie’s understated Sybil—damaged by Bad-Choices—is the only Sympathetic-Texan. But she’s been away in Venezuela for a while…

Truth about Small-Towns: You usually end-up marrying a Local-Girl or Boy & if you don’t Leave-Town, you are stuck with her or him & all your Old-High-School-Friends [also Enemies] for the Rest-of-Your-Life.

As Horton Foote’s Caricature-Characters have Aged, they haven’t Mellowed. They are still Selfish, Self-Centered, even Snotty

Nonetheless, the Cast features the admirable Lois Smith—but this is no Trip-to-Bountiful this time out—as well as Betty Buckley, Cotter Smith, Novella Nelson, & Veanne Cox.

Both Buckley & Cox are Coiffed, Manicured, & Made-Up to an almost Mannequin-Perfection. Their Hair-Arrangements should be shown in a Museum, after this Show closes.

In Harrison, Money-Talks, but with Buckley’s Cartoonish-Character, it won’t Shut-Up & it comes with a Giant-Libido & Lust-for-Power-Over-Others.

Director Michael Wilson is possibly at fault to have encouraged most of his Ensemble to Over-Act with such Off-Putting-Zest.

The High-School-Reunion of these Old-Friends is something you want to avoid

How about running-off to Caracas?

Robert del Naja & Adam Curtis’ MASSIVE ATTACK VS ADAM CURTIS [★★★★★]

The Dead Go On Dancing Forever, The Dead-Singers Are in a Loop for Our-Enjoyment…

This Harrowing Film-with-Live-Music was recently shown—or, rather, Experienced—only Six-Times at the Park-Avenue-Armory.

Scores of New-Yorkers stood, packed tightly together—inside a Metaphoric-Sarcophagus of Eleven-Giant-Screens—watching Adam Curtis’ Epic-Mash-Up-Collage of Film-Footage from the past Fifty-Years.

It all begins in Omsk, with the Birth of Siberian-Punk & the Man who crafted the Scenario for Vlad Putin’s Rise-to-Power.

We get to see the Brutal-Murders of Romania’s Dictator & His Dictatorial-Spouse, filmed so that Romanians would know for certain that the Ceaucescu-Regime was gone forever.

We are inside the Imploded-Nuclear-Reactor at Chernobyl, alongside Desperate-Workers who will surely die of the Radiation-Exposure.

We watch the Collapse-of-Communism.

We watch the Insanity of US-Foreign-Policy unfold: Donald Rumsfeld speaks to us…

We see the Triumph of Donald Trump. We see Ted Turner produce Endless-News-Loops & marry Jane Fonda.

We relive Entire-Eras & Culture-Crazes.

We see Michael Jackson, who will go on dancing forever…

Apparently, Adam Curtis has a Warehouse full of old BBC-Footage, as well as access to all kinds of Filmic-Excesses & Documentary-Snippets.

With the Eleven-Screens arranged in a kind of U-Standing-Stadium—the Sarcophagus-Image borrowed from the Entombment of the Chernobyl-Reactor—the Effect of Eleven-Simultaneous-Repetitions of People walking down Endless-Corridors is both Hypnotic & Disorienting.

We are instantly in Afghanistan with the Taliban & in Anaheim at that Arts-University founded by the Disneys.

The Filmic-Hauntings are often overlaid with Giant-Letters, spelling-out Mottos for Our-Times & Warnings for the Future.

Despite all the Disasters & Horrors of the Last-Half-Century, we are all about Self, Self, Self, it seems.

Perhaps Our-Own-Lives have become a kind of Film-Loop?

This Sensational-Film-Experience is enhanced by the Live-Music of Massive-Attack, as the very Floor-Boards of the Wade-Thompson Drill-Hall at the Armory seem to Throb with the Beat.

Shown previously at the Ruhr-Triennial & the Manchester-International-Festival, this Armory-Outing was the American-Premiere.

It surely will be shown in Arenas around America, but the Film-Itself is so Arresting & Astounding that it should also be shown on Smaller-Single-Screens in Surviving-Movie-Theatres as well.

Perhaps you can order it from Net-Flix before long?

Scott Siegel’s BROADWAY UNPLUGGED 2013 [★★★★★]

All-Star Broadway-Musical-Talents Sing-Out—Without Mikes & Amplifiers—at Town-Hall…

How about Tonya Pinkins for an Opener, singing Last Midnight, from Steve Sondheim’s Into the Woods?

This Edition of Broadway-Unplugged is the Tenth that’s been Created, Written, & Hosted by the remarkable & affable Scott Siegel.

The Idea of being Unplugged is not like pulling the Stopper out of the Bathtub, but Pulling-the-Plug on the Cable that connects a Mike with the Amp-System.

Every Fall, at Town-Hall, you are able to Hear—as well as SeeBroadway-Stars sing out Loud-&-Clear some of the most wonderful Songs ever written for the American-Musical-Stage.

Some of the Shows didn’t Make-It at the Box-Office. Some were Savaged by the Critics

But Scott Siegel doesn’t forget a Dynamic-Lyric or a Haunting-Melody, even if Archivists have already consigned the Surrounding-Show to the Waste-Basket of Theatre-History.

Remember The Grand Tour? No Demerits if you have already forgotten…

But I Belong Here, as sung by Barbara Walsh, makes one think we ought to Take-Another-Look.

The Met-Opera’s John Easterlin gave the assembled Town-Hallers Two-Melodic-Injections of Kismet: Stranger in Paradise & This Is My Beloved.

How many in the Audience recognized the Tunes as borrowed from Borodin’s Prince Igor?

Other Show-Singers included Jeff Mattsey, Carole J. Bufford, Ben Davis—fresh from Anna Nicole over at BAM, Bill Daugherty, William Michals, Natalie Toro, Max Von Essen, Christopher Sieber, Eddie Korbich, Christiane Noll, Jeffry Denman—who dances & sings, & Marc Kudish.

Liz Callaway was heartbreaking, reprising Memory from Lloyd-Webber’s Cats—which she sang on-stage hundreds of times in a Cat-Costume. Not at Town-Hall, however…

Camille Saviola took the Audience from the HeightsThere’s No Business Like Show-Business, from Annie Get Your Gun—to the Depths, with Life Is, from Zorba.

She defiantly sang that Oddly-Pessimistic-Anthem, which tells us that Life Is What You Do While You’re Waiting To Die…

Very Greek, that Idea!

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