Like int’ Old Days, or Not

The problem with being an enfant terrible is that eventually you grow up.  Martin McDonagh, the angry young man who banged out four plays in two years in his late twenties, is now nearing fifty.  The cynicism is still there; so is the black comedy, the moral ambiguity, and the penchant for spontaneous violence.  But the anger is gone, I think, and Hangmen, his first new play since 2010, feels deflated as a result. Continue reading “Like int’ Old Days, or Not”

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A Hamilton for Hamilton

In a decade-old interview for The New York Times, Martin McDonagh complained about theater and accessibility.  “It’s strange to be working in an art form that costs $100 to participate in,” he said.  If his subsequent career trajectory is any indication, he now feels more at home with the egalitarianism of film. Continue reading “A Hamilton for Hamilton

Hidden Notes

Philippe V, the King of Spain (Mark Rylance), is not ill but indisposed.  He’s talking to goldfish, obsessing over clocks, and occasionally lapsing into violence.  The vultures are circling, while his second wife, Isabella (Melody Grove), provides a buffer between Philippe and his slavering council.  Sometimes, Philippe appears lucid, offering aphorisms that suggest he is aware of the chaos he creates.  “Many gods are fun,” he muses while his court descends into disarray, “one is a nightmare.” Continue reading “Hidden Notes”

They Went Up Yonder

In 1941, outside a “Boarding School for Colored” in Montefiore, Georgia, Kay (Juliana Canfield) watches as the students recite from The Paris Massacre, a play that has little relevance to their lives and was chosen by their white benefactor, Harrison Aherne.  Harrison’s son, Chris (Tom Pecinka), walks up beside her.  He calls her “Kay,” she calls him “Mr. Chris,” but, according to the stage directions, “There is no doubt that they are quite drawn to each other.”  Kay’s mother abandoned her as a child and moved north; her body was found in a freight elevator, a victim of either murder or suicide.  Chris’ father, who had a series of children with Black mistresses and then built their mothers a graveyard—“They are the only Nigra women in Montefiore to have tombstones on their graves”—may have had a hand in the death.  In any case, this doesn’t deter the young lovers, who soon find themselves engaged and then separated: while Chris goes off to pursue a career on the New York stage, Kay attends Atlanta University.  He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box, Adrienne Kennedy’s first play in ten years, mostly comprises their letters to one another.  In these letters, the pair pore through their shared past—both grew up in Montefiore, a town of fewer than six hundred people—and there is a sense that the fate of this relationship has some bearing on the fate of the country as a whole.  (The play ends with the bombing of Pearl Harbor.) Continue reading “They Went Up Yonder”

Tomorrow Is For Forgetting the Bad Things of Today

Kelechi (Mfoniso Udofia), a bestselling Pulitzer Prize finalist, returns home to Nigeria after a fifteen-year absence.  Her father, Godwin (Oberon K.A. Adjepong), is dying, and her agent is haranguing her about the next book: maybe something about “war time in Africa”?  Riddled with anxiety and depression—which is somehow linked to this place—she struggles through interactions with a former beau, Obina (Segun Akande), a precocious house girl, Beatrice (Mirirai Sithole), and a gaggle of handsy aunties. Continue reading “Tomorrow Is For Forgetting the Bad Things of Today”

The Bulwark of England’s Greatness

The New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players is clearly a labor of love.  At a recent performance of H.M.S. Pinafore, its founder, artistic director, general manager, and conductor Albert Bergeret announced that it was Bring Your Grandparents Day; during intermission, he would be personally signing up families to take backstage tours after the show, each one led by a different character from the opera.  At odd moments throughout the show, as if he couldn’t delegate all the hammy fun to his actors, Mr. Bergeret would insert himself into the drama, conducting the orchestra against the will of Sir Joseph Porter (James Mills) or Captain Corcoran (David Auxier).  This is all to say that as much as I enjoyed H.M.S. Pinafore—and I did so tremendously—I think the cast and crew enjoyed it even more. Continue reading “The Bulwark of England’s Greatness”

Blame Not This Haste of Mine

Fiasco Theater, a group of Brown alumni best known for their streamlined, energetic stagings of Shakespeare, is back, this time at the Classic Stage Company for a revival of Twelfth Night.  Fiasco is at its best when the material is light and conducive to their zany inclinations and at its worst when they select plays too complicated or too dark for this approach.  Thus, they found their greatest success in the fluffy and little-loved Two Gentleman of Verona but stumbled when tackling Measure for Measure, a play that takes sexual assault as its central subject. Continue reading “Blame Not This Haste of Mine”