Quite Personal and Quite Loud

Harold Pinter said, “There are two silences.  One when no word is spoken.  The other when … a torrent of language is being employed.  This speech is speaking of a language locked beneath it.”  Nina Raine has taken this sentiment to heart in her new play Tribes, which centers on the ferocious, suffocating love between a pair of brothers, Billy (Russell Harvard), who is deaf, and Daniel (Will Brill), a schizophrenic who has more and more trouble drowning out the voices in his head.  The family is rounded out by their father Christopher (Jeff Perry), an acerbic professor-turned-critic and their mother Beth (Mare Winningham), a woman who writes genre fiction in a house full of genuine and pseudo-intellectuals—even their sister Ruth (Gayle Rankin) has an ostensibly creative career (she sings opera in English).

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What Makes You Free?

It is 1942 and in Poland, Jews are marching into the gas chambers.  But in Yonkers, they are ostensibly dealing with family problems.  When Eddie (Dominic Comperatore) finds himself terribly in debt after the death of his wife, he drops his two sons Arty (Russell Posner) and Jay (Matthew Gumley) off with their uncompromising German grandmother (Cynthia Harris).  They are joined by Aunt Bella (Finnerty Steeves), a thirty-five-year-old child and Uncle Louie (Alec Beard), a low-level gangster who acts like he heads Murder, Inc.

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‘Tis Your Brother

Declan Donnellan has directed theater, opera, ballet, and film, all of which come into play in his dynamic revival of John Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, a wonderful production that has been choreographed and timed down to the last second.  By making the appropriate cuts to the original text, he has streamlined the play so that it focuses only on its central relationship, the love affair between Giovanni (Jack Gordon) and his sister Annabella (Lydia Wilson); it is a Romeo and Juliet in which “the problem is no longer that the lovers are from different families, the problem is now that they’re from the same one.

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More Melancholy Than Ten Hamlets is Pretty Damn Melancholy

Early in A Moon for the Misbegotten, Josie Hogan (Kim Marten-Cotten) describes the love of her life, Jim Tyrone (Andrew May), as “like a dead man walking slow behind his own coffin.”  This march towards the inevitable seems to make up the entire play, which follows characters who are obsessed with helping each other and end up helping no one.  Jim, the Hogans’ landlord and an old Broadway ham, slowly drinks himself to death instead of wedding Josie, while her wily father Phil (Dan Daily) tries to play puppet master and orchestrate the marriage that would benefit all three.  As Eugene O’Neill’s swan song, A Moon for the Misbegotten unifies the writer’s most important artistic concerns while also incorporating some of his bad habits—at nearly three and a half hours, we wish this whiskey-soaked night could be a little more succinct.

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It’s Past Now

Beyond the Horizon must be one of Eugene O’Neill’s worst plays—it is humorless, overlong, and maudlin, with language that is almost insultingly obvious; only minutes after curtain, Robert Mayo (Lucas Hall), a dreamer about to leave his life on his father’s farm, announces, “It’s just Beauty that’s calling me … in quest of the secret which is hidden there, beyond the horizon.”  He hardly gets in another line before letting the title slip again: “I got to know all the different kinds of sunsets by heart.  And all those sunsets took place over there—beyond the horizon.”  If one were to closely examine the text, one might be lead to believe this horizon is some sort of metaphor.

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Wonderful When Devils Tell the Truth

Despite its popularity, Richard III is far from being one of Shakespeare’s great plays—it is too long (in this production, three and a half hours) and the only meaty role is the eponymous one; I always sympathize with the actress playing Lady Anne, who must begin a scene berating Richard for the murder of her husband and end it his fiancé.  Still, it is fun to watch the hunchback, to see him seduce and manipulate and then gleefully take us into his confidence.  Like Marlowe’s Barabas, he is one of the few great villains of the theater who admits his immorality, apparently with few misgivings about those he hurts.  Instead, he provides us with delightful insight into the ways in which he will exploit others to reach the crown.

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