Reviews

Richard II at the Pearl Theatre

Walter Pater once wrote, “Shakespeare’s kings are not, nor are meant to be, great men,” something that is deeply understood by director J.R. Sullivan in his new production of Richard II at the Pearl Theatre.  Sean McNall, playing the title role, presents both a physically and politically diminutive figure: slim, pale, and sickly looking—a kind of deflated […]

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Reviews

Theresa Rebeck’s Seminar

Drama about pedagogy tends to follow an insufferable formula: if the professor/high school English teacher/football coach is not used to voice a series of banal platitudes, then he is there to assuage white liberal guilt in some vaguely or explicitly racist way. For that, I would rather open my wrists in a bathtub than have […]

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Reviews

Beckettian Mash-Up at the Baryshnikov Arts Center

Peter Brook, the theater legend who directed the original run of Fragments in London, writes, “Today, with the passage of time, we can see how false were the labels stuck on Beckett—despairing, negative, pessimistic.  Indeed, he peers into the filthy abyss of human existence.  His humor saves him and us from falling in.  He rejects theories, dogmas, […]

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Reviews

Doctor Faustus and Mr. Hyde

François Truffaut once said of Hitchcock’s movies, “The love scenes were filmed like murder scenes, and the murder scenes like love scenes.”  The same could be done with comedy and tragedy in the theater; it would be nice to see Twelfth Night, considering all its darker elements, staged as a tragedy and to see Hamlet, loaded with […]

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Reviews

Shut It Down: Love’s Labor’s Lost at the Public Lab

Love’s Labor’s Lost is a strikingly knowing play.  Centered on four friends who rashly swear off women—only to fall in love, or think they fall in love, almost immediately afterwards—it unfolds with gentle irony, laughingly observing the absurdly narcissistic nature of most romantic tropes. The play closes—like Shakespeare’s later works The Winter’s Tale and Cymbeline—on a mixed note; in […]

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Reviews

I’m Not Racist, But…

There is a moment in James Agee and Walker Evans’ Let Us Now Praise Famous Men—possibly the pinnacle of white liberal guilt—in which Agee accidentally startles a young Black couple: “I was trying in some fool way to keep it somehow relatively light, because I could not bear that they should receive from me any added […]

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