Why Are You Talking to Me?

The forty-two-year-old Georgie Burns (Mary Louise-Parker) approaches the seventy-five-year-old Alex Priest (Denis Arndt) in the St. Pancras Train Station.  In that aggressively confessional manner that is typical of some Americans, she immediately unloads on him, forcing an intimacy that has not yet been earned.  And in that icily reserved manner that is typical of some Englishmen, Alex resists.  “In the end I do know that people will reject me so I try to behave in a way that just speeds the whole process up,” she tells him long after this characteristic has become apparent to the entire audience. Continue reading “Why Are You Talking to Me?”

Heresies Are Experiments

Steampunk—the combination of Victorian and science fiction styles—never had its mainstream breakthrough, and yet at the same time it feels played out.  This contradiction means that context is important: at a bar in Bushwick, I might roll my eyes at top hats or driving goggles.  But in Cirque du Soleil?  It’s a perfect fit. Continue reading “Heresies Are Experiments”

Is This the Government of Britain’s Isle?

CHICAGO—Barbara Gaines concludes her marathon production of Shakespeare’s War of the Roses with Tug of War: Civil Strife, and this time, the tug comes not from without but from within.  The initially stable if timid reign of Henry VI (Steven Sutcliffe) faces a challenge from the House of York, but York is a house divided, and as soon as the family seizes the crown, Richard of Gloucester (Timothy Edward Kane) begins plotting the destruction of his older brothers, Edward (Michael Aaron Lindner) and Clarence (John Tufts). Continue reading “Is This the Government of Britain’s Isle?”

Let’s Be Honest

Standing in front of a wall of apple carts filled with objects that will eventually be incorporated into his act, Helder Guimarães tells us that, as a child, his favorite fairy tale was “The Ugly Duckling.”  At first, the relevance is unclear.  But by the end of his rendition, the cards he has been absently shuffling in his hands have transformed from blue into red: voilà. Continue reading “Let’s Be Honest”

Mauling and Muttering

They called them the “angry young men,” but Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey is filled with enough class rage to argue for an amendment to the term.  Originally produced in 1958, the play follows the down-and-outs Jo (Rebekah Brockman), a seventeen-year-old girl lurching toward womanhood, and her mother Helen (Rachel Botchan), who quickly abandons her daughter for a booze-soaked marriage with a younger man (Bradford Cover).  Alone in their flat, Jo has a brief affair with a Black sailor (Ade Otukoya) and ends up pregnant and rooming with a gay art student, Geoffrey (John Evans Reese).  A jazz trio quietly watches the action, sometimes from the side and sometimes in the center, lending the play an occasionally dreamy touch. Continue reading “Mauling and Muttering”