Showing posts from 2019

Review: Hunger & Thirst Theatre Asks You to Trust "Strangers in the Night"

Strangers in the Night Frank's monologues, written by Philip Estrera;Screwed, written by Patricia Lynn, directed by Caitlin Davies;Bottling Dreams of the Tearful Don't-Knower, written by Emily Kitchens, directed by Paul Kite Presented by Hunger & Thirst Theatre at The West End Theatre 263 W 86th St., Manhattan, NYC October 11-26, 2019 Much as we say that everyone is the hero of their own story, we might say that no one is the stranger. Each stranger, points out Frank (Jordan Kaplan), whose monologues frame and transition between the two short plays that make up Hunger & Thirst Theatre's new production, Strangers in the Night, has their own story. A person's story, though, he specifies, includes both what and who has happened to that person, and it will inevitably include changes wrought by strangers. These and related ideas loosely link Patricia Lynn's fantastic Screwed, inspired by Henry James's The Turn of the Screw, with Emily Kitchens's absurdis…

News: Theater for the New City Holds Its 43rd Annual Halloween Costume Ball October 31

October 31, 2019 at Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue (at E. 10th St.) and the block of E. 10th St. between 1st and 2nd Avenues

Outdoor entertainment 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm; doors open 7:30 pm Outdoors: free; no dress requirement.Indoors: $20; costume or formal wear required.Info/tickets: (212) 254-1109, From Theater for the New City (TNC): "Nonstop theater, a costume competition, and ballroom dancing will bewitch the East Village October 31 in the Village Halloween Costume Ball, which is presented annually by Theater for the New City. This unique festival continues as a grand coming-together for real witches, everyday New Yorkers, and artists alike. An explosive fall tradition, it is always held on the actual night of Halloween and celebrates artistic creation and fertilization.

The one-night fiesta takes over all four of TNC's theater spaces, plus its lobby and the block of East Tenth Street between First and Second Avenu…

Review: A Gothic-Tinged "Glass Menagerie"

The Glass Menagerie Written by Tennessee Williams Directed by Austin Pendleton and Peter Bloch Presented by Ruth Stage at the wild project 195 E. 3rd St., Manhattan, NYC October 3-20, 2019 Although Tennessee Williams's heavily autobiographical The Glass Menagerie is set in St. Louis, its concern with memory, the past, and inherited familial dysfunction arguably align with the Southern Gothic tradition. In a new production of Williams's story of a fractured family of Southern transplants, directors Austin Pendleton and Peter Bloch highlight such generic affinities by lending the play a tinge of the Gothic, rendering, for example, the Wingfield family's lodgings in a manner that evokes genteel decay and including the occasional spooky-sounding musical cue. In conjunction with fine performances by the cast, these decisions highlight the various ways that the Wingfield family members are haunted and accord them a tragic stature.
At the head of the impoverished Wingfield clan …

News: Free NYSX Event: Shakespeare and Immigrant Voices in Conversation, October 22

New York Shakespeare Exchange (NYSX) - internationally known for its The Sonnet Project (in which more than 1,500 volunteer filmmakers from around the world have joined the discussion by creating short films in New York locations based on all 154 Shakespeare sonnets), as well as its mainstage productions and ShakesBEER pub crawls - has announced its next Freestyle Lab, title "To Undreamed Shores: Shakespeare and Immigrant Voices in Conversation," which will take place on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 at 7pm at the 53rd Street Library Theater (18 W. 53rd Street, NYC). This event is free, but reservations are requested at

"To Undreamed Shores" features an ensemble of immigrant and first-generation actors presenting excerpts from Shakespeare and contemporary poets, playwrights, essayists, and politicians - all with the focus on themes of immigration. The performance will be followed by a town hall conversation during which will expand on topics like family …

Review: "Round Table" is a Knight at the Theater of the Highest Order

Round Table Written by Liba Vaynberg Directed by Geordie Broadwater Presented by Fault Line Theatre and Anna & Kitty, Inc. at 59E59 Theaters 59 E 59th St., Manhattan, NYC September 27-October 20, 2019 How do you picture King Arthur, wielder of Excalibur and Knight of the Round Table? If you are Zach (Craig Wesley Divino) of Liba Vaynberg's Round Table, you eschew Disney's blond moppet and T. H. White's post-war reimagining for something involving a little more Middle Welsh and a little less dental hygiene. Centered on Zach, a part-time medieval literature scholar with a PhD from Harvard, Vaynberg's play, artfully directed by Geordie Broadwater and impeccably acted, interlaces multiple levels of fantasy and reality with funny, engrossing, and emotionally honest results.

After an opening monologue by Zach and a scene in which Arthurian knight Tristan (also Divino) dies in the arms of Morgan (Sharina Martin), Zach meets Laura (playwright Vaynberg) for his first exper…

Review: "Thoughts & Prayers" Strikes a Note of Hope for Our Troubled Times

Thoughts & Prayers Created and directed by Lauren Hlubny Dialogue by Alexis Roblan Music by Thomas Giles Presented by Danse Theatre Surreality at TADA! Youth Theater 15 W 28th St., Manhattan, NYC September 19-29, 2019 In our current political landscape, the phrase "thoughts and prayers" has come to serve as sarcastic shorthand for deliberate governmental inaction. While Thoughts & Prayers, the new work of dance-theater from bi-national company Danse Theatre Surreality, depicts the effects of and critiques of this craven maintenance of the status quo, it also offers a more earnest optimism in doing so than the pessimistic associations of its title phrase might suggest. As creator and director Lauren Hlubny puts it in her director's statement, "Thoughts & Prayers is a work that acknowledges the world it is made in, the world it came from, and the world that will be beyond those doors when the show is over. A work that tackles injustice and seeks hope and d…

News: Free World Premiere Staged Reading of New York Shakespeare Exchange's "The Card Play" on September 24

The New York Shakespeare Exchange has announced the world premiere staged reading of The Card Play, a "new theatrical experiment" by NYSX's Resident Dramaturg Shane Breaux and Resident Playwright Kevin Brewer, in partnership with the 53rd Street Library (18 W. 53rd Street, NYC). The reading will take place on Tuesday, September 24, 2019 from 7-9pm (doors open to audience at 6:30pm). This event is free.

NYSX describes the play:

"The Card Play, co-written by Shane Breaux and Kevin Brewer, explores the power and fallibility of memory by following Mark, a painter, through the twists and turns of his life. At each performance, the order of his memories is randomly arranged by the shuffle of a deck of cards, creating for a unique experience for each and every audience. The randomized style of the performance allows for more than 469 million versions of the play and invites the audience to experience, alongside the actors, a palpable sense of how memories appear and disappea…

Review: The Boys of Summer Have Gone in the Poignant "Decky Does a Bronco"

Decky Does a Bronco Written by Douglas Maxwell Directed by Ethan Nienaber Presented by Starting Five Productions at The Royal Family Performing Arts Space 145 West 46th St., Manhattan, NYC September 6-21, 2019Decky Does a Bronco plays out on a beautifully designed and lighted minimalist set dominated by an old-school metal swing set standing on a patch of grass and surrounded by chalk art on the walls depicting its environs. This multi-award-winning play from Scottish playwright Douglas Maxwell is making its U.S. debut The Royal Family Performing Arts Space, and the swing set, perched on a small hill in a council estate in Scotland, acts as the center of the world for the five young boys whom the play follows over one pivotal summer. Magnificently acted, Decky Does a Bronco both feelingly captures the insular intensity typical of groups of children bonded by roving unsupervised through long summer days and poignantly reflects on its end.

Our narrator for Maxwell's meditation on fr…

Review: "Maker of Worlds" Challenges Us to Remake the World

Maker of Worlds Written by Wendy A. Schmidt Directed by Jeri Frederickson Presented by Theater for the New City at the Cabaret Theater 155 First Avenue, Manhattan, NYC September 2-7, 2019 "Be the weapon; be the love" sings Sleater-Kinney on "Bad Dance," a track on the band's new album that contemplates how to react to the sense these days that the world is ending. That phrase could also act as a distillation of Chicago-based playwright Wendy A. Schmidt's Maker of Worlds, currently playing as a part of Theater for the New City's Dream Up Festival. Schmidt has explained that the mission of this absurdist, one-woman play is to "to change the narrative about women, class, and cultural differences by reclaiming religious language for the good" and "to help audiences see their own myths in a new way that better reflects their experiences." With its mix of living, deceased, and divine characters, Maker of Worlds reappropriates and reimagine…

Review: "Sincerity Forever" is Sharp and (Still) Timely Satire

Sincerity Forever Written by Mac Wellman Directed by Dina Vovsi Presented by The Flea Theater 20 Thomas St., Manhattan, NYC August 24-October 7, 2019 [extended through October 13, 2019] The scene is of a familiar sort: two young people with crushes on one another sit together in a parked vehicle and discuss why God allows terrible things to happen and whether there is a divine purpose for everything. Less expectedly, they are wearing the robes and hoods of the Ku Klux Klan. Almost all of the young people who populate the town of Hillsbottom in Mac Wellman's satiric Sincerity Forever are so appareled, a visual signifier that forces to the surface what American society prefers to keep sublimated and unacknowledged. Sincerity Forever, along with the outstanding Bad Penny (reviewed by us here), makes up part of the Flea Theater's Mac Wellman: Perfect Catastrophes, A Festival of Plays, which celebrates the work of Wellman, award-winning playwright, novelist, professor, and co-found…

Review: Don't Pass Up This "Bad Penny"

Bad Penny Written by Mac Wellman Directed by Kristan Seemel Presented by The Flea Theater 20 Thomas St., Manhattan, NYC August 24-October 7, 2019 [extended through October 13, 2019]  A woman ponders the ontology of the sky. Later, she delivers a florid and impassioned oration about a yet-to-be-discovered cheese. A confrontational man with Montana roots carries a whitewall tire. On the margins of other conversations, a trio of women speak quietly in unison. Welcome to the Central Park of Mac Wellman's Bad Penny, a place that one character characterizes as a place of lunacy that provides an escape from the even greater lunacy of city life. The Flea Theater's current production of Bad Penny makes up part of its Mac Wellman: Perfect Catastrophes, A Festival of Plays, a celebration of the work of Wellman, award-winning playwright, novelist, professor, and co-founder of the Flea. In addition to Bad Penny, the festival will feature productions of Sincerity Forever (reviewed by us her…

News: Raised Spirits Theater Company Seeks Donations for Producing New Play "Henslowe!"

Raised Spirits Theater is  producing its first original piece, Henslowe! and is currently seeking donations to reach the $10,000 needed to stage the production.

Raised Spirits describes Henslowe!:

"Henslowe! is a look at Phillip Henslowe, the Elizabethan entrepreneur who built the Rose Playhouse where Shakespeare’s early plays were first performed. It tells the story of one man’s struggle for meaning and recognition in life, something we all can identify with. It opens our eyes to a little known period of Renaissance history and pulls back the curtain on how theater actually works, both then and now. It is a remarkable, in-depth portrait of a deeply driven man. After an extensive workshop process that included two readings and innumerable rewrites over fourteen years the piece is at a critical juncture in the production process. Henslowe! will have its world premiere at the Torn Page at 420 West 22nd Street here in NYC on October 1st." 

Raised Spirits explains that the show …

Review: Hilarious "Bedtime Plays" Talk About All the Good Things and the Bad Things that May Be

Bedtime Plays:Everything We Need to Talk About Before We Talk About Sex Written by Tatiana Kouguell-Hoell and directed by Rakesh PalisettyTeeth Written by Ciara NĂ­ Chuirc and directed by Kelly O'Donnell Presented at The Tank, 312 W. 36th St., Manhattan, NYC August 22, 2019
Considering that there are entire industries dedicated to sex advice, it seems safe to say that most people have at one time or another felt embarassed about saying or doing something in the bedroom. Bedtime Plays, part of the third annual LadyFest, featuring new work by woman-identified artists at The Tank through August 28th, brings together two very entertaining short plays by playwrights in the Columbia MFA program about couples with communication issues when it comes to sex. The plays, Everything We Need to Talk About Before We Talk About Sex and Teeth (not, to be clear, a reference to the 2007 film of the same name), not only complement each other well thematically but also both make their deeper points wi…

Review: "Bury Me in My Leggings" Eschews Easy Answers

Bury Me in My Leggings Written by Scarlett Grace McCarthy Directed by Margaret Baughman Presented at The Tank 312 W. 36th St., Manhattan, NYC August 22, 2019 While the the inextricability of brand loyalty from consumers' (and employees') personal identities is by now ubiquitous, companies such as Apple, SoulCycle, and Lululemon, corporations that lend themselves easily to the public signification of a certain "lifestyle," offer particularly clear examples of this phenomenon Scarlett Grace McCarthy's new play, Bury Me in My Leggings, part of the third annual LadyFest, featuring new work by woman-identified artists at The Tank through August 28th, takes us back to an earlier point in that development, to what seems like the distant past of the summer of 2007, as the iPhone is about to make what one character calls humorously but not inaccurately its "historic" debut. Inspired by a true event in 2011, McCarthy's play focuses on a small group of twenty-…