Posts Tagged ‘tom stoppard’

Culture Vulture: THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME, CITIZENFOUR, Bette Midler, Robert Gober, and more

November 24, 2014

CULTURE VULTURE

 

THEATER

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11.13.14 – Mark Haddon’s 2003 novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time came highly recommended to me, but I couldn’t get into it. The first-person narration by a 15-year-old math geek and amateur detective who inhabits some pocket along the autism spectrum struck me as both cutesy and implausible. Marianne Elliott’s spectacular Broadway production (imported from London) solves the problem by using a full array of theatrical techniques to portray both the kid Christopher’s mental state AND the environment in which he lives. The director, who made her name with the equally spectacular staging of War Horse, gets major help from Bunny Christie’s scenic design and Paule Constabile’s lighting, which continually work magic on the stage of the Ethel Barrymore, and also from a fine cast. Alex Sharp has justifiably earned rave reviews for his strong, completely unsentimental performance in the central role, but I was also very impressed and moved by Ian Barford, who plays his father, a character who does a lot of crappy things and yet Barford never lets you forget that he is a loving, devoted, and imperfect parent. But the secret star of the show, not for the first time, is Steven Hoggett, who (with Scott Graham of the British dance company Frantic Assembly) devised the choreography, or more accurately stage movement – as he did with The Black Watch, Once, Rocky, The Last Ship, American Idiot, and The Glass Menagerie, Hoggett gets actors to create shapes and gestures with their bodies that don’t look like dancing and aren’t literal-minded pantomime but are as deeply expressive as any other element of the show. I walked out quite emotionally frazzled because the production effectively put me inside the brave/terrified/confused/confusing mind of the kid. Andy walked out exhilarated because he loved that way the show valorized math geekery. Stay for the post-curtain-call “bonus scene.”

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11.15.14 – Director Sam Gold has taken a lot of drubbing for his staging of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing for the Roundabout Theater Company at the American Airlines Theatre. It is quite unorthodox, a Brechtian staging of a Stoppard play, and I guess I liked the perversity of that unlikely approach. It couldn’t be more different from the glamorous original Broadway production directed by Mike Nichols (RIP) starring Jeremy Irons and Glenn Close, and it lacks the charm of David Leaveaux’s 2000 revival, even though the Roundabout production has a delicious cast: Ewan McGregor as Henry, the arrogant hit playwright; Cynthia Nixon as his first actress wife Charlotte; Maggie Gyllenhaal as his second actress wife Annie; and Josh Hamilton as the actor best friend whom Henry betrays. The play brims with even more theatrical cleverness than is usual for Stoppard’s work – plays within plays, art that reflects life that reflects art – and Gold’s production piles on top of that an extra layer of peeling back the masks the actors wear and having them hang out at the top of the show and between scenes singing the pop songs that the script references (usually heard only on recordings), which reminded me of his cozy communal environmental staging of Annie Baker’s adaptation of Uncle Vanya at Soho Rep a couple of years ago. Ewan McGregor so aggressively played down the enormous charm he conveys on film that I wasn’t connecting with his performance emotionally for the longest time, but halfway through the second act both he and Gyllenhaal (below) completely got me, in the very emotional scene where Annie really forces Henry to address the real emotional issues his plays bandy about so glibly.

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MOVIES

 

I’ve been in the grip of an obsession lately with Laura Poitras, the super-talented high-integrity investigative journalist who works in the form of documentary film. I watched the first two parts of her trilogy about post-9/11 America on DVD, via Netflix. The first, My Country, My Country (2006), followed a doctor at a free medical clinic who also served on the Baghdad City Council in the months leading up to the first national election after the U.S. invaded Iraq and deposed Saddam Hussein. Poitras met him outside the Abu Ghraib prison where he was interviewing and attempting to intercede for detainees with medical problems, and she gained enough trust to stay with his family and record intimate scenes from Iraqi life that don’t show up in the headlines of American media: the impact of life under occupation, sectarian nuances, etc. The film also portrays the elaborate security surrounding voter registration and casting ballots, things we take for granted in the U.S. Some American military personnel are portrayed as helpful; others seem like idiots, like the guard outside the prison (prison = tents baking in the sun, surrounded by barbed wire fences) telling detainees “Your files are being reviewed.” The release of this film led to Poitras’s being placed on the watch list and being detained more than 40 times in the course of making her next film. The Oath (2010) focuses on a guy who was Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard and his morally complicated journey from being pledged to support Al-Qaeda to turning against the notion of jihad, partly by watching his brother, a driver for bin Laden, getting turned over to the U.S. military and detained at Guantanamo.

laura poitras by olaf blecker

 

I think the first time I really became aware of Poitras (above) was when I read a terrific article about her in the New York Times Magazine. It went into great detail about her collaboration with journalist Glenn Greenwald in helping Edward Snowden expose to the world the ways that the U.S. government’s National Security Agency has been illegally collecting data from American citizens (emails, credit card purchases, phone calls, voicemail messages) and lying about it pretty much every day since September 11, 2001. The culmination of this project is Poitras’s film Citizenfour (the title comes from the handle Snowden used when he first contacted the journalists in an effort to expose the NSA’s spying-on-civilians program), which had its premiere at the New York Film Festival. Simply put: you have to see this film. It’s fantastic, enraging, upsetting. Through her integrity and her intelligence and her aesthetic of restraint, Poitras has made an art form out of befriending and gaining the trust of the people to whom citizenfour is dedicated: “those who are willing to make great sacrifices to expose injustice.” The film documents with devastating clarity the intentional efforts the American government has made to rob citizens of their privacy. President Obama has never looked more weak and pathetic than in the brief moment he appears in this film.

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Meanwhile, Snowden (above) comes off as a man – I will even say a patriot – with enormous integrity, passion, and commitment to truth and justice. The scenes in which he first speaks on camera to Poitras and Greenwald in a hotel in Hong Kong exemplify eloquence and moral strength; I almost burst into tears when he introduced himself and said, “I’m 29 years old.” Greenwald = equally impressive. The scene in which he addresses the Brazilian Senate, in American-accented Portuguese, gives the most succinct summary of the implications of the NSA’s collecting data on foreign citizens – not only, as they pretend, to combat terrorism but to gain financial and political advantage over competitors in the global market. William Binney, who quit his job at the NSA when he learned about the abuses being tolerated by his superiors, is a secondary star of the show.  And at a meeting of lawyers in Berlin gathered to discuss defending Snowden in court, a guy from the American Civil Liberties Union simply and straightforwardly exposes the ludicrousness of Snowden’s being charged under the Espionage Act, equating someone who exposed the wrongdoing of the American government to the American people with spies who sold military secrets to the enemy. As Andy put it, that makes perfectly clear whom the American government considers the enemy: the American people.

 

MUSIC

 

I’ve liked a few of Taylor Swift’s songs, especially her endearingly adamant kiss-off anthem “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” (ever!). So I bought from iTunes her brand-new album 1989 just to be part of the pop moment. I’m disappointed that Swift is not more original. Perhaps it’s silly of me to expect her to be so. She is a musical aggregator, curating familiar sounds from the pop zeitgeist. The album’s opening track, “Welcome to New York,” sounds to me like Robyn, whose energetic disco-pop I like a lot, though a little less when it’s secondhand. You can’t tell me that “Bad Blood” doesn’t sound like Lorde’s breakthrough hit “Royals.” And the album’s out-of-the-box first hit single “Shake It Off” isn’t the only song on the album that sounds indistinguishable from Katy Perry – maybe not surprisingly, since most of 1989 was produced by Max Martin, who produced “California Gurls” and “Teenage Dream” for Perry, along with a dozen other hit songs.

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I have loved Bette Midler since the first moment I became aware of her, doing a Mae West interpretation on The Tonight Show. I’ve seen her onstage probably more times than any other musical act, and I’ve collected all her records. So of course I had to order from Target.com the special deluxe edition of her new CD, It’s the Girls, just to get the two bonus tracks not available anywhere else. The songs are the album are a fascinating mixture of girl-group classics (“Be My Baby,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “Mr. Sandman,” “Bei Mir Bist du Schon”) and unexpected choices (the Shangri-Las’ “Give Him a Great Big Kiss,” Martha and the Vandellas’ “Come and Get These Memories,” and especially TLC’s “Waterfalls”). Midler says her first girl-group record was by the Boswell Sisters, a little-known but hugely wonderful and crazy jazz-pop tight-harmony trio from the 1930s (the title track is one of theirs). I think my favorite cuts are “One Fine Day,” sheerly delirious, and “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” in the slowed-down Carole King manner. And the bonus track are wonderful surprise choices as well: “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game” (first recorded by the Marvelettes, also sung by Ella Fitzgerald, Patti Smith, and Tracey Thorn from Everything but the Girl) and “Talk to Me of Mendocino” (from Kate and Anna McGarrigle’s debut album). The album was masterminded by pop wizard Marc Shaiman – composer, arranger, conductor, archivist, musician, co-producer (with Scott M. Riesett), and diehard fan.

A musician I can’t get enough of these days is Anouar Brahem, the Tunisian oud master who has put out almost a dozen albums on ECM Records. I started listening to him first in 1992, with Conte de l’incroyable amour, tracks from which figure prominently on a CD mix I’ve played for literally thousands of massage sessions. More recently I’ve gotten hooked on a beautiful 2002 CD called Le pas du chat noir, a collaboration with pianist Francois Couturier and Jean-Louis Matinier on accordion — spare, slow, beautiful music conjuring late nights in some dark cafe on a barely lit street in the old quarter of Nice, perfect for dreaming, unwinding, snuggling with my sweetie, or drifting in a pleasant low-level buzz. Almost as good is The Astounding Eyes of Rita from 2009 and a much earlier release, Barzakh, also a small-group session with Bechir Selmi on violin and Lassad Hosni on percussion. (Not recommended: 1998’s Thimar, unless you have more tolerance than I do for soprano sax — call it Kenny G’s fault, or Jan Garbarek’s, but soprano sax on its own almost instantly sounds shrill and treacly and ruins everything.) You can preview a lot of his stuff on Soundcloud.

ART

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11.21.14 – Strolling through the Museum of Modern Art on a Friday afternoon meant checking out two major shows currently running, “Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs” and “Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor.” It may be heretical to say this, but I’ve never especially enjoyed Matisse, and most of the cut-outs struck me as very pedestrian. Yet every so often there’s one stands out as something other than construction-paper-doodling: the large female nude Zulma and the huge wall-sized piece called Large Decoration with Masks did it for me.

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Gober’s quirky body-part sculptures have amused and intrigued me, and they’re all here, alongside many rooms of elaborately banal remade readymades. I loved the big room in the middle of the show where you’re surrounded by woodsy wallpaper, especially the man’s naked lower body sticking out of the walls (like the one above, except, you know, naked), a musical score tattooed on his waxy body. But I think what I loved most about the Gober show were the security guards, each one distinctive, fierce, and quite unusual. Check them out, especially the tall guy who zealously guards the giant cigar that sits in the middle of the forest room…..

A couple of other random canvases that caught my eye, displayed in hallways at MOMA:

Benny Andrews, No More Games (1970)

Benny Andrews, No More Games (1970)

Boris Bucan's 1983 poster for a Stravinsky double-bill at the Croatian National Theatre in 1983

Boris Bucan’s 1983 poster for a Stravinsky double-bill at the Croatian National Theatre in 1983

Culture Vulture: THE LAST SHIP, INDIAN INK, BIRDMAN, James Hillman biography, and more

November 5, 2014

THEATER

10.5.14: SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE at New York Theater Workshop. My taste for Ivo van Hove’s stage adaptations of classic films and plays has not yet reached its capacity. His staging of Ingmar Bergman’s epic drama (which I hadn’t seen or really thought about since the made-for-Swedish-TV film came out in 1973) once more reinvented the insides of New York Theater Workshop, creating three separate playing spaces that the audience cycled through for the first three scenes; after a lengthy intermission, we returned to one big space for the final long collage sequence. Casting three very different couples in the roles originally played by the great Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson acknowledged the truth about long relationships – they go through so many phases and stages that who you are when you started doesn’t look much like who you are at the end. Among the mostly admirable performances, Arliss Howard and Tina Benko (below) were most consistent as the oldest of the three

scenes from a marriage

couples, though I also thought Alex Hurt (William Hurt’s handsome son) and especially Susannah Flood were awfully good as the youngest, and the great downtown actress Mia Katigbak practically blew them all off the stage with her two different cameo roles. I’m always intrigued by the music van Hove chooses to flood his productions, but the one clunky note here was having Arliss Howard flit about at the very end of the show to the tune of “The Windmills of Your Mind” sung by Noel Harrison – but I guess it wouldn’t be a van Hove production without some unacceptable bit of eccentric perversity. Playwright and director Emily Mann supplied the very playable English adaptation.

10.8.14 : THE TEMPEST at La Mama ETC. The unusual constellation of director Karin Coonrod, composer Elizabeth Swados, and leading actor Reg E. Cathey as Prospero drew me to La Mama for the first of three variations on Shakespeare’s play, the whole series loosely inspired by Hurricane Sandy and its ongoing impact on the NYC area. Sadly, this was the driest, least magical Tempest of my theatergoing experience. Coonrod’s strict structuralist intellect drained all the juice from the play, leaving the actors stuck on the chalk outlines of a set making blahblahblah of their lines. Two redeeming graces: the witty idea of having the male nobility distinguished by wearing high-heeled white pumps (some of the actors more comfortable in them than others), and the singularly galvanic performance by Slate Holmgren as Caliban (below with Tony Torn’s Stephano), played by a white man, for a change.

tempest torn and holmgren

10.11.14: THE LAST SHIP at the Neil Simon Theatre. I don’t have a lot to add to the critical consensus on the show, which is that Sting did a lovely job at creating a theatrical score that both works dramatically AND sounds like his own musical voice, rather than generic Broadway tunesmithing. The book is the weakest part of the show – there are huge gaps where information and narrative logic are missing, possibly the result of Brian Yorkey starting the job and John Logan finishing it. But there are some lovely performances (Rachel Tucker as the female lead stood out for me), continuously captivating choreography (more like stylized movement) by Steven Hoggett, and a wonderfully monumental set by Mr. David Zinn.

10-11 last ship pre-set

I walked out of the theater with two songs stuck in my head – one that  had been there before (the beautiful “When We Dance,” repurposed for the show from a Sting album), and the shipbuilders’ stomp, “We Got Nowt Else.”

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10.30.14: INDIAN INK at the Roundabout Theater Company. I don’t understand why it took so long for this rich, dense feast of a Tom Stoppard play to get a major production in New York, but I’m glad it finally came about. Written around the same time as The Invention of Love and Arcadia, two of Stoppard’s best works ever, Indian Ink shares with those plays a simultaneous existence in two time periods. In 1980s England, Eleanor Swan, an aged widow (played by the resplendent Rosemary Harris), sorts through correspondence with her sister Flora Crewe, a poet whose brief and adventure-filled life ended from tuberculosis in India in 1930 (she’s played by Romola Garai, new to me – not the only actress in the world who could play such an extravagant part but damned impressive). Entertained by romance and intrigue, we also learn a lot about British colonialism, Indian sectarianism, painting and poetry, biography and secrets. It’s well-staged by Carey Perloff on Neil Patel’s simple colorful sets with excellent costumes by Candice Donnelly and notable performances by Firdous Bamji as a modest yet ardent suitor for Flora’s affection and Nick Choksi as an effervescent tour guide. This show seems to have slipped in under the radar – there’s not a lot of chatter about it, in the shadow of the fall’s major Broadway openings – but I highly recommend not missing it.

10.31.14 THE FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE at the Public Theater. The Public Theater’s recent track record and the score by prolific and fertile Michael Friedman (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Love’s Labours Lost) lured me in to Itamar Moses’s adaptation of Jonathan Lethem’s novel about the friendship between a white kid and a black kid growing up in Brooklyn in the late ‘70s and early ’80s. It’s an ambitious and sprawling work, musically and narratively and scenically, but not very much of it landed with me, except at the very end, when I felt the pain and anguish of the gap between the boyhood friends – the white guy (Adam Chanler-Berat) whose education and privilege took him away and up, and the black guy (Kyle Beltran) unable to escape the confinement of his family’s collapsed legacy. Staged by Daniel Aukin, the show felt like the hetero male version of Fun Home, but without nearly as much fun.

fortress of solitude

MOVIES

Days and NightsStage actor Christian Camargo’s debut as film director came and went in a flash, but for theater buffs it’s definitely worth tracking down when it becomes available to rent or stream. It’s an inspired contemporary adaptation of Chekhov’s often-performed, often-adapted, yet never-exhausted tragicomedy about theater people summering in the country. The movie got wretched reviews from film critics, maybe because to appreciate the movie at all you pretty much have to know Chekhov’s play chapter and verse. Since it’s my favorite play in the world, I guess I’m among the small but hardy ideal audience for the film, which features a magnificent array of New York stage actors: Alison Janney (in the Arkadina role), Camargo (in the Trigorin role), Ben Whishaw (as the Treplev character), Juliet Rylance (as Nina – she’s Camargo’s wife and not an actress I care for), her father Mark Rylance, Cherry Jones, William Hurt, Jean Reno, Katie Holmes, Michael Nyquist, and Jean Reno (star of The Artist). You can watch the trailer here.

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Birdman, or The Unexpected Virtue of IgnoranceI remember walking by the St. James Theater on West 44th Street one night and seeing the marquee for Riggan Thompson’s stage adaptation of Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love and vaguely understanding it was a set for some movie. What fun to learn that the entire film pretty much takes place in and around that exact theater, where Michael Keaton’s character, a Hollywood actor burned out on the superhero movie sequels that made him famous, attempts to reinvent himself artistically. I haven’t been a huge fan of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s films but this one was a gas, and of course it didn’t hurt for the cast to include not only the excellent Edward Norton,

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Zach Galifianakis, Emma Stone, and Naomi Watts but wonderful New York theater actors like Bill Camp, Merritt Wever, Amy Ryan (I guess she belongs to the world now), and playwright Stephen Adly Giurgis. The one scene that seemed stupid and gratuitous was the Keaton character’s confrontation in a bar with the New York Times theater critic who snarls, “I’m going to destroy your play” – even played by the superb Lindsay Duncan, that character doesn’t fly. The scene comes off as a movie director’s tirade against Manohla Dargis that’s been stored up for years.

BOOKS

The Life and Ideas of James Hillman Volume I: The Making of a Psychologist by Dick Russell doesn’t automatically sound like perfect reading for a ten-day retreat in the Amazonian rainforest jungle, but it turned out to be ideal for me. Modeled perhaps on Richard Ellmann’s magnificent biography of James Joyce (a hero of Hillman’s), Russell’s doorstop of a book (678 pages including back matter and pages of footnotes after every chapter) runs on scrupulous research and encyclopedic detail parceled out in short titled subsections across 15 chapters, making for compulsive and highly entertaining reading, especially for me, having slightly known and massively revered Hillman in his later years. This first of two volumes only covers barely half of Hillman’s life, from his birth in Atlantic City in 1926 to 1969, when he was driven out of his post as Director of Studies at the Jung Institute in Zurich (the details of which I never knew – a suitable if sordid climax to the book). Lots of other stuff I didn’t know: what an aristocratic family he came from, anything about his first marriage to a wealthy Swedish woman who was the mother of his four children, even what a late bloomer he was, professionally. Russell carefully and beautifully unpacks the slow, unsteady making of a thoughtful writer and revolutionary thinker through many wanderjahren and entrepreneurial publishing dead ends. Needless to say, I’m chomping at the bit to read volume 2, even though I know it won’t see light of days for a few years still.

james hillman bio

TELEVISION

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Olive KittredgeI’ve long been a fan of lesbian filmmaker Lisa Cholodenko’s movies (High Art, Laurel Canyon, The Kids Are Alright), and who doesn’t love Frances McDormand? The four-part HBO series, adapted by Jane Anderson from a novel by Elizabeth Stout, is the kind of tour de force we haven’t seen McDormand in since she first made an unforgettable splash in Fargo. She plays a crusty, unrelievedly unpleasant schoolteacher in small-town Maine, married to a mild-mannered pharmacist (the great Richard Jenkins) with whom she has a hyper-sensitive son (the grown-up version is played by John Gallagher, Jr.), both of whom she treats fairly brutally. She does also have a soft spot in her heart for wounded birds, especially the suicidally depressed, whom she considers kindred spirits. But her flashes of kindness are unpredictable and usually short-lived. Classic line: “I’m waiting for my dog to die so I can shoot myself.” At first I wasn’t sure I could tolerate four hours of Olive’s miserable personality but the performance is beautiful and uncompromising, and the production is high-quality all round. I especially loved the final episode, in which Olive forges a testy friendship with a widower played by Bill Murray. Looking at these two amazing actors with these amazing now-aged lumpy, wrinkled, characterful faces – in HIGH DEFINITION – was surprisingly exhilarating. I would love to see them do Happy Days. I would love to see Bill Murray do anything by Beckett.

olive-kitteridge-teaser

Top theater of 2011

December 19, 2011

NEW YORK THEATER: Top Ten Productions of 2011

1. JERUSALEM – Jez Butterworth’s dense, lyrical, astonishingly original play superbly directed by Ian Rickson, centered on the justly legendary performance of Mark Rylance (above) as half-man half-myth Rooster Byron, with help from a sturdy ensemble cast and production design by the artist known as Ultz.

2.  THE SELECT (THE SUN ALSO RISES) – Elevator Repair Service’s adaptation of Ernest Hemingway lived up to the company’s high standard for wit, depth, theatrical liveliness, and tech savvy. Great ensemble performance directed by John Collins, with a special shout out to lead actors Mike Iveson and Lucy Taylor, supporting performers Kate Scelsa, Susie Sokol, and the amazing Kaneza Schaal, and production designer David Zinn.

3. THE WOOSTER GROUP’S VERSION OF TENNESSEE WILLIAMS’ VIEUX CARRE — an unlikely match and another beautiful triumph for Elizabeth LeCompte and her brave actors, led this time by Ari Fliakos as the author’s stand-in with all subtext stripped away.

4. THE MOTHERFUCKER WITH THE HAT – Stephen Adly Giurgis’s play kept me laughing really hard at the most heartbreaking scenes, where cruelty and romance kept morphing into one another. Top-notch cast, though for me the revelation was Yul Vazquez as the scene-stealing cousin.

5. OTHER DESERT CITIES – Jon Robin Baitz’s taut play, a showcase for five excellent actors beautifully directed by Joe Mantello (I preferred the Lincoln Center cast with Elizabeth Marvel and Linda Lavin).

6. SLEEP NO MORE – British theater company Punchdrunk’s ambitious mash-up of Shakespeare and Hitchcock made for the year’s single most original theater experience, a dreamscape sprawling over 100 rooms in two adjacent former warehouses in Chelsea.

7. THE ILLUSION – Signature Theater’s Tony Kushner season ended with Michael Mayer’s gem-like staging of this lyrical bit of poetic philosophy featuring memorable performances by Lois Smith, Henry Stram, and Peter Bartlett.

8. BURNING – Thomas Bradshaw’s haunting, provocative play working the raw edges of sex, race, and politics staged with gleeful perversity by Scott Elliott.

9. THE PATSY & JONAS – the incomparable actor and playwright David Greenspan had another banner year with his own play Go Back to Where You Are at Playwrights Horizons and this quirky double-bill of solo virtuosity.


10. SPIDER-MAN TURN OFF THE DARK – I saw the final performance that could legitimately be said to reflect the work of director Julie Taymor (above), with its mind-boggling sets by George Tsypin and costumes by Eiko Ishioka, and I thought it was terrific. Sue me.

Runners-up:

•    James Macdonald’s production of Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman at BAM, headed by the formidable trio of Alan Rickman, Lindsay Duncan, and Fiona Shaw (below);

•    David Leveaux’s smart revival of Tom Stoppard’s towering Arcadia


•    Taylor Mac’s collaboration with the Talking Band, The Walk Across America for Mother Earth at La Mama, a perfect tribute to the recently departed champion of idealistic experimental theater

•    The Book of Mormon, thanks to the fearless Trey Parker and Matt Stone and the clever Casey Nickolaw

•    Daniel Sullivan’s lucid Shakespeare in the Park staging of All’s Well That Ends Well

•    David Lindsay-Abaire’s troubling but sticky Good People – Frances McDormand justifiably got the reviews and the awards but let’s not forget Patrick Carroll’s exquisite supporting performance

•    Nina Arianda’s scintillating howdy-do in David Ives’ Venus in Fur (above right, with Hugh Dancy)

Theater review: ARCADIA

March 28, 2011

Bel Powley, Raul Esparza, Lia Williams, and Tom Riley in ARCADIA (photo by Carol Rosegg)

My review of the Broadway revival of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia has just been posted on CultureVulture.net. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Here’s the gist:

“I remember when I saw the original New York production being so dazzled by the density of the language and ideas in Arcadia that most of it went right over my head, leaving me with few last impressions except admiration for Stoppard and the play. This time around, I took the precaution of reading the play the day before I saw the production, which I highly recommend. That is to say, I highly recommend seeing the show, AND I recommend you read the play first. The production isn’t perfect, but I liked it better than Trevor Nunn’s version at Lincoln Center. As he did with The Real Thing, director David Leveaux has worked very hard to ground Stoppard’s irrepressible flights of speech and metaphor and theatrical fireworks in recognizable human behavior. I consider it a tribute to Leveaux’s staging that I left not just cerebrally stimulated but genuinely moved by the understated tragedy that ends the play.”

You can read the entire review online here.

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