Posted in 2-hander, air force, also a film, army airmen, autobiographical, based on a movie, based on a real world conflict, based on a true story or event and historical documents, based on true events, Bryce Pinkham, carpet bombing, comedy about a serious subject, dark comedy drama, drama based on real events, duped by love, ensemble acting, family, fathers and sons, holiday show, memoir, memories, musical theatre, musicals and dramas, narration, new work, Off or Off-Off Broadway Transfer, offbeat work, parents and children, play, play with music, Roundabout Theatre Company, serious comedy, storytelling, stylistic, the damaged and hurting, theater, Vietnam background, war

Legacies of war

bycarolrosegg
Jon Hoche, Raymond Lee, Paco Tolson (center), Jennifer Ikeda, and Samantha Quan. Photo © Carol Rosegg

History can sometimes revel in a very personal dynamic.

For instance, those of us who lived through and joined in protests against the Vietnam War may not share the viewpoint of the main character in Qui Nguyen’s Vietgone, currently playing at MTC’s City Center Stage I through December 4th.

Quang (Raymond Lee) was a pilot in the South Vietnamese armed forces. He was trained in the United States. He saw the North Vietnamese as a genuine threat to life and liberty and welcomed the help of American soldiers in the struggle.

Vietgone is a fast-paced kind-of-multi-media excursion into the hero’s and heroine’s, Tong (Jennifer Ikeda), survival. They meet at a state-side refugee camp where Tong and her mother (Samantha Quan, in a number of roles) have come after the fall of Saigon.

The piece is, and isn’t, narrated by the Playwright (Paco Tolson, also playing several people), who is commemorating his parents’ story. There are rapped love songs, (original music by Shane Rettig) motorcycles, a roadtrip, and a bromance– all trappings to some extent of the era portrayed in the plot.

For the most part, Vietgone is entertaining, interesting, unusual in structure, and well presented. There is room for some cuts here and there. The cast, under May Adrales’ direction, and staging, with scenic designs by Tim Mackabee and projection design by Jared Mezzocchi, are excellent.

In other subscription house news from our household:

Roundabout’s Love, Love, Love (reviewed earlier and playing through 12/18) can make us feel guilty first for Brexit and now Trump as it portrays boomers resting in reactionary comfort.

Over at Studio 54 througfh January 15, 2017, Roundabout has mounted a vehicle for nostalgia. Holiday Inn, with no irony whatsoever, cries out for Mickey and Judy. It is well-served by the cast on hand, however, and a pleasantly tuneful production makes for a great afternoon at the movies, er theater.Bryce Pinkham and Corbin Bleu are the friends and dancing partners, along with Megan Sikora, and Lora Lee Gayer who lead the ensemble in song and dance.

Heisenberg Georgie- Mary-Louise Parker and Alex-- Denis Arndt; Set Designer Mark Wendland; Costume Designer Michael Krass; Lighting Designer Austin R. Smith; Original Music and Sound Designer David Van Tieghem. Photo © Joan Marcus
Heisenberg
Georgie- Mary-Louise Parker and Alex– Denis Arndt;
Set Designer Mark Wendland; Costume Designer Michael Krass;
Lighting Designer Austin R. Smith;
Original Music and Sound Designer David Van Tieghem. Photo © Joan Marcus

MTC gives us Heisenberg at its Broadway venue, the Friedman Theatre through December 11th. Why Heisenberg? The play, so well-acted by Denis Arndt and Mary-Louise Parker as to have one puzzling over the quantum physics of it name, is an enjoyable two-hander. It’s gimmicky staging notwithstanding, the dynamic of the drama is captivating. Heisenberg is a sweet-crazy story, written by Simon Stephens, the pen behind The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Heisenberg was a transfer from Off-Off, and as such had some buzziness surrounding it.Director Mark Brokaw elicits strong performances from both his actors. Parker, who unleashes the odd-ball in her character in little bursts, is fun to watch.Arndt’s charm reveals how a pent-up man can suddenly be both impetuous and child-like. So, back to the title: Heisenberg has an underlying if small principle of uncertainty that you will likely enjoy.

Posted in 1986 bombing of El Al plane, activists, Andy Bragen, duped by love, Joseph Stiglitz, new work by Paul Taylor, Play Company, Public Forum Solo, Rich and Poor, The English Bride, The Public Theater

News from the rialto…

Just something I’ve always wanted to say. 

Not that we aren’t bringing notable tidings. 

Here are some things to look forward to, some near term, and others off in the distant– or maybe not so distant– 2014:

Michael Gabriel Goodfriend as Ali Said and Amy Griffin as Eileen Finney in
“The English Bride” at 59E59 Theaters through November 17th. 

Photo by Bob Eberle.
Love is a powerful narcotic, especially for someone who feels as unworthy of it as Eileen Finney (Amy Griffin) in Lucille Lichtblau’s “The English Bride.” Eileen is duped by love for an Arab stranger, Ali Said (Michael Gabriel Goodfriend) into unwittingly committing an unspeakable act. 

Ezra Barnes as Dov and Amy Griffin as Eileen Finney in “The English Bride”
at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Bob Eberle


“The English Bride,” in a NYC premiere at 59E59 Theaters (www.59e59.org) presented by the Centenary Stage Company, opens on October 30th and runs through November 17th, is based on the true story of the failed 1986 bombing of an El Al airplane. In Lucille Lichtblau’s re-imagining of the events, Eileen is interrogated by a Mossad agent named Dov (Ezra Barnes.)  “The English Bride,” is the winner of the 2011 Susan Glaspell Award.


The Play Company (www.playco.org) opens its 2013-14 season with a world premiere site-specific work by playwright Andy Bragen. In “This Is My Office,” playing from November 5th through December 8th, the space in which the blocked writer, Andy Bragen (played by David Barlow) takes on a symbolic role which brings harmony, reconciliation and redemption.

Let’s not forget to visit The Wild Project (www.thewildproject.com), where there are a slew of activities, on stage and screen. From November 8th through the 23rd, see Victor Liesniewski’s “Cloven Tongues,”  featuring Casey Biggs, Catherine Curtin, Ema Laković and Alex Mickiewicz. In this drama about a brutalized woman and the social worker and priest who struggle to help her heal. Also at The Wild Project, “Hope is Expensive,” performed and written by  by Jill Pangallo, playing on December 10th and 11th, is more of a darkly humorous look at our delusional culture.

On December 9th, The Public Theater (www.publictheater.org) will present a Public Forum Solo with Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz on income inequality and what the artistic community can do about it. “Rich and Poor” is the topic which will be addressed in the  conversation featuring artistts and activists following Stiglitz’s talk.

Paul Taylor Dance Company’s (www.ptdc.org) annual New York season will begin on March 12th and run through March 30th. During this year’s celebration of PTDC,American Dreamer,” Paul Taylor’s 139th dance piece, will be introduced on Wednesday, March 12th when the PTDC kicks off its Diamond season at the David H. Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center. 

The Diamond Gala Performance and Dinner is set for Thursday, March 13th. Gala tickets available at $850, $1,000, $2,500 and $5,000 (www.ptdc.org/gala). Diamond anniversariees seem to have some fluidity in their timelines, in the case of the PTDC, it is a mere 60 years old. On Friday, March 14th, Paul Taylor will unveil the 140th work of his long and prolific career.