Philip Graves (Thomas Jay Ryan) desperately wants to ask something of Charlotte, his recently deceased wife. He hires Mirabel (Heather Alicia Simms), a purportedly terminally ill woman, to deliver a message to her in the afterlife. Mirabel is a charlatan, a pawn in one of many schemes cooked up by an unseen hustler, and so she’s suitably alarmed at the arrival of a response to Philip’s message, written in Charlotte’s handwriting. Mirabel resolves to help Philip find the note’s author and during their search they fall in love. Their future together is cut short, however, when the spectral correspondent turns out to be a young man (Jordan Geiger) who possesses the late Ms. Grave’s memories and expects to take up her old place in the house. Continue reading “God Speed Your Love to Me”
When Hurlyburly premiered on Broadway back in 1984, it couldn’t be described as a “period piece.” It was a modern play, concerned with the issues of the time, punctuated by pop culture references (Here’s Johnny!). When the play was adapted for the screen, in 1999, it not only was condensed from a sprawling 3-act play into a tight 2-hour movie, but the setting was updated from the coked-out 80s into the coked-out late 90’s. The revival at the Chain Theatre keeps the tighter length but doubles down on the 80s, transforming Hurlyburly, once upon a time a contemporary play, into a period piece. Continue reading “The Battle’s More Lost than Won”
Just because Dinner with Friends is much like every other domestic play written in the past eighty years—John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger comes especially to mind—doesn’t mean it is a bad one. In fact, it is excellent. Donald Margulies’ script is witty, unassuming, and quietly perceptive. It opens at the end of a dinner party hosted by Gabe (Jeremy Shamos) and Karen (Marin Hinkle), two white, upper-middle class foodies, the kind of people who will break into an accent mid-sentence in order to assure they are pronouncing the words chicken tikka masala with unassailable authenticity. Over wine and desert—limone-mandorle-polenta—their lifelong friend Beth (Heather Burns) confesses that her husband Tom (Darren Pettie), another lifelong friend, has left her for an airline stewardess. “I’d spent my entire adult life cleaning up one form of shit or another,” Tom later confesses to Gabe. “How do you keep love alive when you’re shoveling shit all day?” Continue reading “It’s Time for Me to Scare You”
Caryl Churchill’s Love and Information is a solid one-hour play that happens to run for a little under two hours. Its fifty-seven scenes are connected thematically and not narratively, featuring over one hundred characters who are all struggling with the same problem: deciding how to communicate, filter, interpret, and trust information—and, often, how that pertains to love. “Is it better to know things or not to know things?” asks a man who is about to tell his friend that her husband is having an affair. While watching a wedding tape, another man, less troubled by this statement when it begins than when it ends, says, “I wouldn’t remember all this without the video. I wouldn’t remember hardly anything at all about it because I can’t remember anything about that day that’s not on the video. Not clearly.” The title really says it all. Continue reading “They Know You Exist”
The Woodsman is a warm and welcoming little hour of mime, mostly wordless music and simplified Bunraku puppetry. Continue reading “Whether I Get a Heart or Not”
After a shocking act of pillaging by a machine gun unit, the hapless Galy Gay (Gibson Frazier)—who cannot say “no” to any request—is forcibly enlisted into the British Colonial Army under the name Jeraiah Jip. This farce consistently strains believability: Galy Gay is so dopey he wouldn’t just buy the Brooklyn Bridge, but offer even more money. The incredulousness comes to a head in the beginning of the second act, where Galy Gay head-slappingly believes that a pile of barrels with a mounted elephant head is actually an elephant stolen from the army. It’s an amusing, if corny moment. The audience shouldn’t be surprised—the Classic Stage Company production of Brecht’s A Man’s a Man demands constant imagination, and we should assume that also applies to its characters. The first act begins with Polly Baker (Jason Babinsky), a soldier in the British Colonial Army, signing a Playbill for the first row. The second act’s opening number is introduced as one “cut from the second act.” From the first time we experience the setting, an India “that is suspiciously Rudyard Kipling-like,” we’re prepared for an extremely imaginative take on what ends up being a fairly sober play about colonialism, militarism, and masculinity.
Continue reading “Is a Man a Man?”