Six Characters in Search of an Author

Time for Rehearsal

Before Beckett or Ionesco there was Luigi Pirandello, whose Six Characters in Search of an Author was allegedly so shocking to its original audience that people could be heard crying out, “Madhouse!” in response to what they were seeing.  Now, unfortunately, its impact has dulled, and we are left with a play that feels very much like…

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Angels in America

The Monolith Is Missing

Last weekend, the American masterpiece Angels in America was revived in a Dutch translation at the BAM Harvey Theater in Brooklyn.  Belgian director Ivo van Hove has pared down Tony Kushner’s play—which one character, commenting on the spectacle of it, calls “Very Steven Spielberg”—so that all that remains are the characters and their conversations.  There…

On the Town

Before the Vagabond Shoes

Contemporary musical theater is obsessed with the edgy.  So many writers strive for dark, for subversive, for cinematic, working to “elevate” an artform that’s often regarded as shallow and silly.  I have no problem with the innovative or boundary-pushing.  However, it’s so refreshing to see a piece of musical theater like the new revival of On…

Disgraced

The Gap

It seems that the surest way to win a Pulitzer is to write a comic drama about a bad dinner between couples and preferably one in which, as the night progresses, secrets are revealed.  It has worked, albeit with some variations, for Edward Albee, Donald Margulies, and Tracy Letts.  And now we can add Ayad…

Deliverance

The Tonic of Wilderness

Staging an adaptation of Deliverance in the round with no props or set decoration for a black box theater audience seems more like the result of a lost dare than a deliberate creative undertaking. Four urban adventurers set out for a weekend of canoeing down a river before the river valley is flooded by a…

Indian Ink

The Reference Is Obscure

“I began with a desire to speak with the dead,” Stephen Greenblatt writes at the beginning of Shakespearean Negotiations.  “Literature professors are salaried, middle-class shamans.”  For a few years in the ‘nineties, Tom Stoppard also desired to speak with the dead.  His plays Arcadia and Indian Ink (the latter is currently being revived by Roundabout) both concern people in…

Not I, Footfalls, Rockaby

Will You Never Have Done?

At first, there is only darkness.  Then, we see a small light on the left side of the stage—but even for those sitting up close, it takes a moment to realize that it is a mouth suspended in the air.  The mouth delivers a breakneck monologue, a torrent of language punctuated by gasps that sound like jet engines.  For…