The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Exchange the Bad for the Better

The Two Gentlemen of Verona has unjustly been dismissed by most scholars.  Harold Bloom, for instance, calls it “the weakest of all Shakespeare’s comedies.”  But if it doesn’t have the meat of later plays like The Merchant of Venice or All’s Well That Ends Well, it does offer humbler pleasures.  Fiasco, a company that previously mounted amiable if underwhelming productions…

The Visit

A Spectre of You

On the stage, tree roots are wrapped around old columns, their arches resembling outstretched branches.  Brachen used to welcome the likes of Goethe and Brahms; now it is a run-down near-ghost town whose inhabitants haunt its streets with a combination of nervous energy and resignation.  But Claire Zachanassian (Chita Rivera), the richest woman in the world…

'Tis Pity She's a Whore

Her Sickness Is a Fullness of Her Blood

When Declan Donnellan directed ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore at BAM three years ago, he stripped the play of everything but its core plot—the incestuous and ultimately fatal affair between Giovanni (Matthew Amendt) and his sister Annabella (Amelia Pedlow)—and the result was cinematic, highly stylized, and saturated with melodrama. In a new revival by Jesse Berger, John Ford’s…

Fun Home

Old Father, New Artificer

Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home may be the best comic I have ever read.  The story of her sexual awakening, and the suicide of her closeted father, Bruce, it is not only a sophisticated rendering of a much-denigrated art, but a celebration of novel-reading as well: Alison’s life is framed by the life and art of a series…

Hand to God

God Listens to Slayer

It is pretty common, especially in Shakespearean productions, for actors to double up on parts.  In Fiasco’s Cymbeline, or in Bedlam’s Saint Joan, some members of the cast would hop back and forth between roles in the same scene, using only minor costume changes to indicate the difference.  But I have never seen anything quite like Robert…

Something Rotten!

Less Taxing on the Brain

The two Bottom brothers, Nick (Brian d’Arcy James) and Nigel (John Cariani), are Elizabethan playwrights who find themselves overshadowed by William Shakespeare (Christian Borle).  While Nigel mostly concerns himself with his newfound love for Portia (Kate Reinders), the daughter of a fire-and-brimstone Puritan (Brooks Ashmanskas), Nick goes to the local soothsayer, Thomas Nostradamus (Brad Oscar),…

Ghosts

God and the Law

Who knew all Ibsen needed was a bit of menace?  A little over a year ago, BAM presented the Young Vic’s stellar production of A Doll’s House, which tore off the play’s moralizing veneer and exposed a domestic thriller more akin to Hitchcock than Shaw.  Now we have Ghosts, which begins in much the same manner, with Jacob Engstrand…