Reviews

Commedia Che?

Theatre for a New Audience has on its hands its best production in years with The Servant of Two Masters, a much-welcomed commedia salve for the trauma of November 8.  Carlo Goldoni’s madcap play has Truffaldino (Steven Epp) attempting to surreptitiously earn two salaries, the first from Beatrice (Liz Wisan), disguised as her slain brother Rasponi, the […]

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Reviews

The Norwegian and the Swede

Strindberg insisted on several occasions that his misogyny was entirely theoretical, but The Father is such a full-throated expression of hatred that this is hard to believe. Around the time he wrote the play, he prophesized a coming war of the sexes that would lead to a barbarous matriarchy and declared, “I shall fight as […]

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Reviews

Exchange the Bad for the Better

The Two Gentlemen of Verona has unjustly been dismissed by most scholars.  Harold Bloom, for instance, calls it “the weakest of all Shakespeare’s comedies.”  But if it doesn’t have the meat of later plays like The Merchant of Venice or All’s Well That Ends Well, it does offer humbler pleasures.  Fiasco, a company that previously mounted amiable if underwhelming productions […]

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Reviews

The Fourth Act

George (Austin Smith), steeped in European sensibility after a recent trip to France, returns to America to find a plantation he has inherited in financial peril. He’s caught the eye of the wealthy heiress Dora (Mary Wiseman), but his heart belongs to Zoe (Amber Gray), the eponymous daughter of his uncle and a slave. George’s eloquence […]

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Reviews

The Scourge of God

What are we to make of Marlowe’s Tamburlaine (John Douglas Thompson), the Scythian shepherd-turned-emperor who spends most of this two-part play committing mass murder without any hint of guilt or self-doubt?  He resembles later theatrical incarnations of political evil, like Shakespeare’s Richard III and Macbeth, but no ghosts of victims come back to haunt him, no authorial […]

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Reviews

The Secret of a Drop of Rain

At 89, Peter Brook, whose Midsummer shocked audiences back in 1970, is still producing interesting work.  The Valley of Astonishment, co-written and co-directed with Marie-Hélène Estienne, follows three people who lead unusual lives of the mind: the first, Sammy Costas (Kathryn Hunter), has a nearly perfect memory and unconsciously uses techniques similar to those outlined in Joshua Foer’s Moonwalking […]

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Reviews

The Snail’s House

One of the toughest parts about playing iconic Shakespearean roles is convincing the audience that you are saying and thinking these lines for the first time.  How is one, for example, to recite “To be or not to be?” or “Never, never, never, never, never” without summoning up the legion of actors who have already […]

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Reviews

A Very Merry War

Last year, Arin Arbus directed a wonderful Taming of the Shrew for TFANA and this season she returns with her star Maggie Siff for Much Ado About Nothing, an appropriate, complicated companion piece.  But where Shrew succeeded because it treated the text with the appropriate amount of irony, Much Ado falters because it fails to […]

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Reviews

A “Post-Feminist” Shrew

When we walk into the theater, there is man playing saloon music on a piano.  A woman passes out bags of peanuts, and Christopher Sly (Matthew Cowles), an old, drunken bum who has been tricked into thinking he is an aristocrat, loudly comments on the action of the play, so much so that the actors […]

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