Goodbye, Cruel World

The script for Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis contains no stage directions and does not assign its lines to any characters.  Words, numbers, and snippets of dialogue are littered across the page, and we only slowly become aware that the action concerns a psychiatrist and his or her suicidal patient.  This offers directors, designers, and actors a great deal of opportunity for interpretation: the original production featured three actors, one male and two females, while this one, currently running at the Magic Futurebox Theatre, has just two women, who alternate between playing the doctor and the depressive. Continue reading “Goodbye, Cruel World”


Peter Gets His Name, Starcatcher Drags J.M. Barrie’s Through the Mud

Before Peter (Adam Chanler-Berat) met Wendy—before, in fact, Peter even had a name—he met his famous companion’s mother, Molly Aster (Celia Keenan-Bolger).  In Rick Elice’s Peter and the Starcatcher, a prequel to J.M. Barrie’s play, the two embark on their first quest, to protect “star stuff” from falling into the (two) hands of the Black Stache (Christian Borle), a rather unintimidating pirate who will later become Peter’s nemesis Captain Hook.  What exactly is “star stuff”?  It’s never entirely explained, except to say it grants different powers to different people and has nothing to do with Carl Sagan.  Judging by the way it glows from within its sea chest, it is as elusive as the contents of the briefcase in Pulp Fiction—or, as Stache would have it in one of his more far-reaching jokes, “as elusive as the melody in a Philip Glass opera.” Continue reading “Peter Gets His Name, Starcatcher Drags J.M. Barrie’s Through the Mud”

Fare You Well, Señor Satan

The Irish Repertory has not had a good year.  First, there was Brian Friel’s stultifying, cringingly sentimental Dancing at Lughnasa, then Eugene O’Neill’s bloated, unbearable Beyond the Horizon.  A Shavian comedy is just the kind of play that is needed to inject some life into this theater—and at first glance, Man and Superman seems to be that play: it is an easy comedy of manners about reluctant lovers chock-full of witty one-liners that even features an extended scene in hell in which Don Juan debates the nature of life with the Devil (Jonathan Hammond). Continue reading “Fare You Well, Señor Satan”

Who Rushed Like Lions to the Roaring Slaughter

Ben Lyons (Dick Latessa) is dying of cancer while his wife Rita (Linda Lavin) leafs through a home decoration magazine, deciding whether she should redo the living room in a Marrakech theme or in Chinese modern.  Ben likes the room the way it is, but, as Rita observes, he “won’t actually be there to enjoy it.”  His two children, who have not been informed of his illness, show up and are forced into on-the-spot final words.  Lisa (Kate Jennings Grant), their alcoholic daughter, recalls a moment when she was six or seven and playing on a jungle gym, but quickly realizes that she’s remembering a scene from Kramer vs. Kramer—“I loved that picture!” cries her mother.  Curtis (Michael Esper), their gay son, tries to forgive Ben for his homophobia, but only gets a “Fuck you” from his father—that, and a grinning reminder that his grandfather Hilly would have hated him. Continue reading “Who Rushed Like Lions to the Roaring Slaughter”

And the Audience Laughed at Lester Maddox Too

The first act of Clybourne Park is the other side of A Raisin in the Sun: in 1959, Russ (Frank Wood) and Bev (Christina Kirk), a weary, middle-aged couple, have decided to move out of their neighborhood; their son, Kenneth, was a Korean vet who ended up committing suicide after being accused of war crimes.  The community panics, however, when they find out that a Black couple has bought the home.  Karl (Jeremy Shamos) shows up with his deaf wife Betsy (Annie Parisse) to try to convince them to stay, while their priest Jim (Brendan Griffin) awkwardly employs the help of their Black maid Francine (Crystal A. Dickinson) and her husband Albert (Damon Gupton) to discuss the situation. Continue reading “And the Audience Laughed at Lester Maddox Too”

Poker Should Not Be Played in a House with Women

A Streetcar Named Desire is one of the few perfect American plays, a mammoth masterpiece that puts most of our theater to shame.  It must be intimidating to launch a revival as each new cast will always play their parts in the shadows of such giants as Karl Malden, Vivien Leigh, and, of course, Marlon Brando.  Still, Emily Mann has directed a fine production currently running at the Broadhurst Theatre, marked by gorgeous, mournful jazz (courtesy of Terence Blanchard) and a mostly top-notch cast. Continue reading “Poker Should Not Be Played in a House with Women”