So How Long Since Your Last Confession?

“What kinda fuckin’ world is this?”  So begins Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Our Lady of 121st Street, with Vic (John Procaccino) screaming in his underwear in the main viewing room of the Ortiz Funeral Home.  Sister Rose is to be buried the following day, but her body has gone missing.  Thus Vic’s consternation. Continue reading “So How Long Since Your Last Confession?”

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Humans Are Coming!

Critical readings of Aristophanes’ The Birds, a comedy about two Athenians building a city in the sky, vary widely.  Some view it as political allegory, drawing connections to contemporary democratic revolutions in Athens.  Others see in “Cloudcuckooland” a vision of utopia.  Still others argue that it is a literary satire on gigantomachy (Google it).  While attempting to assemble the diverse critical heritage in his book on the playwright, Douglas M. MacDowell writes, “Birds more than any of the other plays has suffered from over-interpretation.” Continue reading “Humans Are Coming!”

Skinning a Cat

Glenda Jackson is brilliant.  Throughout Three Tall Womenher craggy face—one Beckett would have loved—alternately radiates wisdom, confusion, knowing cynicism, and puckish amusement, all with a firmly-pursed upper lip.  The primary difference, I think, between stage and film acting is the requirement for stage actors to use all of their body.  Too frequently, this means a series of weak and incoherent gestures, a filling up of space that confuses acting with action.  By comparison, Ms. Jackson relies on stillness, a powerful, precise stillness that imbues any action she takes tremendous weight: a crooking of the neck, for example, or a silent cackle. Continue reading “Skinning a Cat”

What Gladsome Looks of Household Love Meet in the Ruddy Light

A Brief History of Women, the new play by Alan Ayckbourn, bears a somewhat misleading title.  It is really the history of a home, specifically Kirkbridge Manor, which between 1925 and 1985 serves a variety of purposes: as a Georgian country house, as a preparatory school, as an arts center, and finally as a hotel.  Our anchor is Anthony Spates (Antony Eden), who keeps returning to this building in all its manifestations, first as a seventeen-year-old footman and finally as the elderly general manager of the hotel. Continue reading “What Gladsome Looks of Household Love Meet in the Ruddy Light”

But Had Not Force to Shape It as He Would

There’s no getting around it: Joshua Jackson is a bad actor.  As James Leeds, the dashing new speech teacher at a school for the deaf, he spends most of Children of a Lesser God signing and interpreting the signs of others.  This masks a tendency to saw the air, even when the ASL doesn’t call for it, but it does nothing to hide his teleprompter delivery.  Except he’s not reading from a teleprompter, and we know this because the supertitles—installed to make the production more accessible—frequently only approximate what he is saying.  It’s inexplicable to me that a teen heartthrob over a decade past his sell-by date has landed a role on Broadway; still, at the very least, I’d expect him to learn his lines. Continue reading “But Had Not Force to Shape It as He Would”

You and I and Pickering

Bedlam is a troupe of actors best known for their small-cast stagings of large-scale plays: there was the four-person Hamlet, and before that the four-person Saint Joan.  In 2015, they began performing two versions of Twelfth Night in repertory—this required expanding the company to five.  In between their appearances in New York, artistic director Eric Tucker and his … Continue reading You and I and Pickering