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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Reviews

The Bald Soprano at the Pearl Theatre

Eugène Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano is a difficult masterpiece.  Subtitled Anti-play, it is, along with Waiting for Godot, a quintessential work of Theatre of the Absurd.  The action is set in a living room on an “English evening” in which the Smiths are having the Martins over for dinner—the drama is essentially plotless, and consists mostly of the couples’ […]

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Reviews

Cymbeline: Shakespeare’s Senioritis

A six-person Shakespearean production is a tricky thing to stage.  Actors and costume designers struggle with creating distinct characters, kings are executed only to reappear as rogues, and, since the small cast is often a monetary necessity, players tend to botch the language and confuse the action; the end result is the kind of stultifying […]

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