Reviews

Come and Make Explosives with Me

Major Barbara at first appears like a rather innocuous play, nothing that would inspire the economist Beatrice Webb to call it a “dance of devils” and “the triumph of the unmoral purpose”: Her children all grown up, Lady Britomart Undershaft (Carol Schultz) finds herself in a precarious position: her husband, the weapons manufacturer Sir Andrew (Dan […]

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Reviews

The Days Are Getting Shorter

Fall has come and all of New York’s institutions are waking from their summer slumber, including the Pearl Theatre, the best revival company in the city.  They are opening their 2014-15 season with Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, a chronicle of old, disappointed Russians who have been doing nothing but “talking and talking for the last fifty years.”  The […]

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Reviews

C’est la Vie, Say the Old Folks

George Bernard Shaw is at his best when he doesn’t take his social mission too seriously, when he is upending gender and class norms like a merry prankster instead of a dogmatic moralist.  Thus, a line like, “Women have to unlearn the false good manners of their slavery before they acquire the genuine good manners […]

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Reviews

A Laugh Riot at the Pearl

It is said that Pierre Beaumarchais’ The Marriage of Figaro foreshadowed the French Revolution—though Figaro (Sean McNall) is based on Brighella, a stock Commedia character, a servant who often outwits his master, Beaumarchais’ text is far more political and is packed with polemical monologues against social inequity.  “How came you to be rich and mighty, […]

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Reviews

Richard II at the Pearl Theatre

Walter Pater once wrote, “Shakespeare’s kings are not, nor are meant to be, great men,” something that is deeply understood by director J.R. Sullivan in his new production of Richard II at the Pearl Theatre.  Sean McNall, playing the title role, presents both a physically and politically diminutive figure: slim, pale, and sickly looking—a kind of deflated […]

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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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