The Top Ten Plays of 2013

Spring of 2013 was a brutal time for New York theater: mediocre Broadway fare, overrated comedies, and letdowns from normally reliable companies—I’m not sure how I would have survived were in not for the brilliant if much-maligned Jekyll & Hyde and a out-of-nowhere, micro-budget After the Fall that gave any high-end Miller revival a run for its money.  Fall, however, saw a series of excellent of debut plays (Marie AntoinetteThe Nance) and three Shakespearean productions that were as good if not better than any I’ve seen in years.  Overall, this was a surprisingly balanced year, with old masters like Williams and Brecht being treated with as much care and intelligence as the next generation of first-rate playwrights. Continue reading “The Top Ten Plays of 2013”

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Vibrations from Another Time

Tommy (Ciarán Hinds) is a lonesome Dubliner, an odd jobs man whose only companions are his buddy Doc (Michael McElhatton) and his landlord and uncle Maurice (Jim Norton).  His room is strewn with large black garbage bags and the trash that should be in them; his kitchen is packed with dirty dishes and a modest selection of beans, biscuits, coffee, and tea.  One night, while out for some fries, he intervenes in a domestic dispute and brings home the victim, Aimee (Caoilfhionn Dunne).  Aimee is a small-time shoplifter and prostitute—forty Euros for a handjob.  “That’s all I ever do,” she tells Tommy.  He insists it it’s all right, the handy was “A-one” and a “Bull’s-eye.”  After all, “the full job and all that huffing and puffing, it’s so unbecoming.” Continue reading “Vibrations from Another Time”

Evoking Shakespeare

To start with, the prelude.  The actors, consistent with Shakespearean practices, get into their costumes on stage thirty minutes before curtain.  Mark Rylance, whose genius I will never understand, alternates between chatting with audience members who sit onstage, performing vocal exercises, and staring, eyes dilated, at some unremarkable point on the floor: at these moments, he appears like a man possessed, wholly unaware that he standing before thousands or that someone is sewing him, before Richard III, into a rather bulky outfit or, before Twelfth Night, into a dress. Continue reading “Evoking Shakespeare”