Archive for the 'theater reviews' Category

Theater Review: INTIMACY

March 6, 2014

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I’ve mostly cycled out of writing theater reviews, in an effort to concentrate my writing energy in the direction of my therapy practice. But I couldn’t resist writing about Thomas Bradshaw’s latest play,  Intimacy, because of the issues it raises, particularly about how pornography has become an integral part of our lives in a way that hardly anyone talks about. Directed by Scott Elliott for the New Group, the show is finishing up its run — the last performance is Saturday night. It’s really worth seeing and discussing.

Here’s my first paragraph: Thomas Bradshaw is a 33-year-old black American playwright who might as well have his middle name legally changed to Provocative, because no one seems to be able to talk or write about his work without conjuring that adjective. The most recent of his 11 plays, “Intimacy,” has been playing Off Broadway for the last two months; the production at the New Group concludes its run March 8. I’m fascinated by this play not just as a theater scholar but also as a sex therapist. Bradshaw’s plays almost always address hot-button issues of race, class, and sexuality very directly and explicitly. His previous play, “Burning,” performed at the New Group two years ago, took off from the Marquis de Sade’s “Philosophy in the Bedroom” and included several extremely graphic scenes of simulated sex by naked actors only a few feet away from the audience. “Intimacy” goes even further by taking as its main subject the prevalence of pornography in American culture, specifically as it plays out among three suburban families.

You can read the entire review for CultureVulture online here. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Best Theater of 2013

December 23, 2013

1. Fun Home – beautiful adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s graphic family memoir by Lisa Kron with top-notch score by Jeanine Tesori, an excellent cast with three Alisons and Michael Cerveris as her closeted gay father, keenly directed by Sam Gold and keenly designed by David Zinn.
fun home diner
2. A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Julie Taymor’s smart, inventive staging with spectacular scenic design by Es Devlin, costumes by Constance Hoffman, and major performances by Kathryn Hunter, David Harewood, Tina Benko, Max Casella and 20 rambunctious children.

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3. Love’s Labours Lost – fast funny musical adaptation of Shakespeare by director Alex Timbers and composer Michael Friedman in Central Park, with a cast of newly minted stage stars.

Love's Labour's Lost Public Theater/Delacorte Theater
4. Good Person of Szechwan – Lear de Bessonet’s excellent funky staging of Brecht’s masterwork at La Mama ETC (later the Public Theater) starring Taylor Mac and other downtown luminaries.

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5. The Designated Mourner – deeply affecting revival of Wallace Shawn’s disturbing play with fine performances by Shawn, Deborah Eisenberg, and Larry Pine directed by Andre Gregory.
6. Here Lies Love – delirious immersive musical about Imelda Marcos by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim staged by Alex Timbers with a game young cast headed by Ruthie Ann Miles.

Here Lies Love Public Theater/LuEsther Hall
7. Pippin – Broadway revival brilliantly staged by Diane Paulus as a circus with an instantly legendary performance by Andrea Martin.
8. Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 – a chunk of Tolstoy shaped into a dense, hip musical by Dave Molloy and crisply staged cabaret-style by Rachel Chavkin with a memorable leading performance by Philippa Soo (below) and luxurious costumes by Paloma Young.
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9. The Assembled Parties – Richard Greenberg’s play with a cast of good actors smartly directed by Lynne Meadow.
10. All the Rage – Martin Moran’s monologue about loss, death, life purpose, dreams, and anger, delivered with the same beguiling mixture of writerly detail, grace, and humor that characterized The Tricky Part.

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11. The Laramie Project Cycle – Tectonic Theater Project’s documentary about the murder of Matthew Shepard and its aftermath, still powerful 15 years later.
12. The Flick – Annie Baker’s latest crack at mining mundane lives for drama with a richness that bears comparison to Beckett (with whom she shares a reverence for silence) and Chekhov, set in a rundown movie theater (designed with hilarious drabness by David Zinn) with a heartbreaking performance by Matthew Maher (below), directed by Sam Gold.

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Honorable Mentions:
Clint Ramos for costuming Here Lies Love and Good Person of Szechwan
Judy Kuhn for her performance as Fosca in John Doyle’s production of Sondheim’s Passion
Marin Ireland for her stylized performance in the title role of David Adjmi’s Marie Antoinette

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Mark Rylance for his performance as Olivia in the all-male Twelfe Night on Broadway
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Tom Pye’s set design for Deborah Warner’s production of The Testament of Mary
Craig Lucas’s libretto for Nico Muhly’s Two Boys at the Metropolitan Opera
Bernardine Mitchell for her performance as Rose in La Divina Caricatura
John Tiffany’s staging of The Glass Menagerie on Broadway, Bob Crowley’s set, and Celia Keenan-Bolger’s performance as Laura (below)

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Theater review: Sam Shepard’s HEARTLESS

September 23, 2012


My (somewhat belated) review of Sam Shepard’s new play Heartless at Signature Theater, featuring a terrific cast headed by Lois Smith (above center), has just been posted on CultureVulture.net. Check it out here and let me know what you think. It’s quite an unusual play for Shepard, harkening back to his early, very wild and free plays — not to everybody’s taste but definitely to mine. The show runs only one more week, so if you’re inclined to go, don’t wait.

Theater review: UNCLE VANYA at Soho Rep

August 12, 2012

My review of Sam Gold’s environmental production of Uncle Vanya has just been posted on CultureVulture.net. Check it out here and let me know what you think.


I will say that I was late getting around to seeing this production (whose excellent cast includes Merritt Wever, Reed Birney, and Michael Shannon, above), and it’s a revelation. It has been extended but must close August 26. If you’re inclined to order tickets, don’t wait but go here.

Theater review: 4000 MILES

April 4, 2012

My review of Amy Herzog’s 4000 Miles at Lincoln Center Theater’s Mitzi Newhouse has just been posted on CultureVulture.net. Check it out here and let me know what you think.

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