Rented Meat

The electricity doesn’t come on until as late as ten o’clock.  This means that Hazel (Deborah Findlay) and Robin (Ron Cook), two retired nuclear engineers, usually eat cold meals—crackers or salad.  An “exclusion zone” has been set up around their former work site, a reactor that was haphazardly built by the sea and is about to begin contaminating the water.  When Rose (Francesca Annis), a woman from their past, returns home after nearly forty years, she soon disrupts the peace the couple have made with their part in all of it. Continue reading “Rented Meat”

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In the Land of Sinners, the Whore Is Queen

We begin with a lovers’ quarrel.  “Who are you writing?” Peter (Martin Csokas) barks at Chloe (Uma Thurman).  Peter’s jealousy has gotten worse recently—or maybe Chloe has changed since January.  “Give me your phone,” he demands after hearing the ding of a text.  “Once you stop trusting me,” she asks him, “what do we have left?”  But the two are interrupted by someone at the door: “It’s my husband!” Continue reading “In the Land of Sinners, the Whore Is Queen”

A Man Is What He Has

Ayad Akhtar’s last play, The Invisible Hand, skewered market capitalism by demonstrating how even the most ideologically resistant—in that case, Islamic terrorists—can fall prey to its seduction.  Now, in Junk, he returns to the same subject, but this time his focus is on the scene of the crime itself: Wall Street in the mid-1980s, when debt was first transformed into wealth and “junk bonds” made a slew of regulation-baiting investors very wealthy. Continue reading “A Man Is What He Has”

Saying Words That Have Oh So Clearly Been Said So Long Ago

It’s a little strange and a little beautiful to see John Cale performing with a full orchestra to a seated, opera-house audience.  Dressed in an all-black suit brought into relief by a shock of white hair, Cale nods along with the band as he works his way through The Velvet Underground & Nico, which was released fifty years ago in March.  In the intervening years, he has apparently become as comfortable with the Lincoln Center crowd as he was with the weirdos and punks who first saw these songs performed alongside screenings of Andy Warhol’s films.  His viola is now accompanied by the sousaphone. Continue reading “Saying Words That Have Oh So Clearly Been Said So Long Ago”

She Doesn’t Even Go Here

The subtitle of Jocelyn Bioh’s School Girls is The African Mean Girls Play.  In some ways, it’s a pretty fair comparison.  This is a sharp and funny work about a group of girls at an elite Ghanian boarding school.  While each prepares for a performance that could make them eligible for the 1986 Miss Global Universe pageant—the name, of course, is similar to Donald Trump’s former enterprise—Paulina (MaameYaa Boafo) bullies her peers into submission and sycophancy.  “I’m so jealous of your life,” coos Nana (Abena Mensah-Bonsu) after hearing Paulina will be wearing Calvin Klein.  “I know,” she replies, delivering her lines as if they were rehearsed for an interviewer, “I’m so blessed.”  But Nana’s subservience doesn’t protect her: Paulina uses her weight to cudgel her self-esteem, asking if Nana wants to be “fat-fat” or “fit and popular,” then eventually insisting that she drop twenty pounds or find a new table in the cafeteria.  These volatile circumstances are only exacerbated when the new girl, the biracial, American-born Ericka (Nabiyah Be), arrives just in time to audition. Continue reading “She Doesn’t Even Go Here”