In the upcoming Classic Stage Company double-bill in repertory, Conor McPerson and Yaël Farber rework two Strindberg pieces, Dance of Death and Miss Julie. This Strindberg celebration runs from January 15th through March 10th at the CSC’s theatre on East 13th Street.
Farber’s Mies Julie resets the play to the Karoo of South Africa, adding a new dimension to the social conflicts in the original. Mies Julie is directed by Shariffa Ali who brings enlightened and empassioned humanitarian activism into the play’s broader themes.
Victoria Clark is helming the production of McPherson’s interpretation of Dance of Death. You surely know her as a Broadway musical star, who won a Tony for her lead in The Light In the Piazza, and was a nominee for four of her other outings. Lately, Ms. Clark has been directing musicals and operas around the country. She brings her sense of the lyricism in words to Strindberg’s brutal vision of a marriage in decline.
** (Strindberg’s Miss Julie, for instance, was last seen at the Roundabout in 2007 with Jonny Miller and Sienna Miller, although an off-Broadway production of his lesser-known The Pelican was produced in 2016.)
The Suitcase Under the Bed, at the Beckett at Theatre Row extended through September 30th 23rd, refers to the place where Mint Artistic Director, Jonathan Bank found the treasures on this bill of four one-act plays. Thanks to his exacting curation, the program has a cohesion of theme and sensibility.
It opens with Strange Birth, a charming love story, with the very charming Ellen Adair playing the housemaid Sara Meade, the object of Bill The Post’s (Aidan Redmond) affection. The other three plays–In The Cellar of My Friend and Holiday House, and finishing with The King of Spain’s Daughter— are all in fact love stories as well. Some are wry, some are winsome, all eccentric to a degree particular in a Teresa Deevy play.
The cast of seven (in addition to Adair and Redmond, Gina Costigan, Sarah Nicole Deaver, Cynthia Mace, Colin Ryan, and A.J. Shively– each in a variety of roles) deliver their diverse characterizations superbly. There are lovely musical interludes as well as Entr’acte poems to mark the transitions from one play to the next. The scenic designs by Vicki R. Davis serve each setting with small but well detailed changes.
Each story is carefully defined and delineated with care under Jonathan Bank’s splendid direction.
Forbidden love, star-crossed love, these are timeless stories and often go under the rubric Romeo & Juliet. The Shakespeare tragedy, itself derived from an older tale, has spawned many modern adaptations and imitations. The musical West Side Story, set in New York where the feuding Montagues and Capulets are replaced by rival gangs, is famously based on the Bard’s play.
Temple of the Souls, a new musical with book by Anita Velez-Mitchell (and story), Lorca Peress and Anika Paris, and music and lyrics by Anika Paris and Dean Landon, at the NYMF in July, uses time travel to depict the history of Puerto Rico, a country whose people are descendents of an indigenous Indian nation mixed with the occupying Spaniards. It is also about star-crossed lovers, a young Taino man (Andres Quintero) and the daughter (Noellia Hernandez) of a Conquistador (Danny Bolero.)
Is it really cheating if your spouse approves your infidelity?
Exploring the conventions of marriage and the humbug of monogamy, Miles Malleson wrote and published Yours Unfaithfully in 1933. Mint Theater Company is giving this charming and disarming comedy/drama a premiere showing through February 18th, under the direction of Jonathon Bank. For this discovery, we owe them a great thanks.
Stephen Meredith (Max von Essen) is blissfully enjoying his wife’s beneficence. Anne (Elisabeth Gray) has given her blessing for him to “get into some mischief” with Diana Streathfield (Mikaela Izquierdo) in the hope that an affair would rejuvenate Stephen and end his writer’s block.
Neither she nor Stephen imagine any other consequence. They are acting on their convictions that a strong marriage can withstand other and lesser alliances, just as Stephen’s father, the Rev. Meredith (Stephen Schnetzer) acts on his principles when he is shocked to learn of Stephen and Diana’s dalliance. Anne’s confidant and the Merediths’ friend, Dr. Alan Kirby (Todd Cerveris) preaches the counterbalance of the head to the heart.
The brilliantly deft production of Yours Unfaithfully is a welcome addition to the Mint archive. As is customary in a Mint production, sets and costumes have a panache as well. The scenic (by Carolyn Mraz) and costume (by Hunter Kaczorowski) design are admirable. The top-notch ensemble brings Malleson’s smart vision to life with an easy flair. It’s a tribute to all involved that one can’t peg Yours Unfaithfully as drama, or drawing-room comedy; it transcends labels and stands on its own.
For more information and tickets, please visit the Mint website.
Being drunk and lovesick may not be an ideal combination.
In Anita Loos’s “Happy Birthday,” at Theatre Row;s Beckett Theatre in a TACT production through April 13th, the combination proves magical.
Mary Bacon as Addie Bemis and Todd Gearhart as Paul Bishop in “Happy Birthday.” Photo by Hunter Canning.
The mousy librarian, Miss Addie Bemis (Mary Bacon) is lovestruck. She shows up at Gail Hosmer’s (Karen Ziemba) Jersey Mecca Cocktail Lounge to warn Paul Bishop (Todd Gearhart) that her father Homer (Anderson Matthews) intends him harm. Paul is the object of Miss Bemis’s affections.
Don’t know how many of us thrive through liberal doses of alcoholic beverages, but Addie Bemis comes into her own the more she drinks. Her priggishness melts and her confidence builds. As the evening goes on, she is sure she can get Mr. Bishop away from Miss Maude Carson (Victoria Mack.)
Addie’s barroom full of new friends, and the audience, are all pulling for her. The bartender, Herman (Ron McClary) gives her godfatherly advice. She sings, she dances, but can she prevail over Miss Carson’s obvious charms?
The large cast to a man and woman are as delightful as the lighthearted, but savvy, romance in “Happy Birthday.” Mary Bacon is especially poweful, as she carries Addie seamlessly from stiff to giddy.
Angst, Scandanavian-style, made popular by Ingmar Bergman in our youth, and gently mocked by Woody Allen, is back in Jon Fosse’s “A Summer Day.”
“A Summer Day,” at the Cherry Lane Theatre, through November 25th,is getting its first-time premiere in New York City in this affectionate production by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.
“A Summer Day,” takes anxiety and sadness to the brink. By an informal count, the words “anxious” and “sad” were celebrated more than a dozen times in the text of Jon Fosse’s play in director Sarah Cameron Sunde’s translation.
Melancholia, bolstered by boredom, looks to be a Norwegian pasttime, seconded only by going out onto rough waters.
Asle (McCaleb Burnett) likes it out there in his little boat. His wife (Karen Allen as Older Woman, and Samantha Soule as Younger Woman) finds it scary. As the play opens, the Older Woman stands at the window looking out at the pier. Her Older Friend (Pamela Shaw), visiting on this bright summer day, much as she had on a much gloomier day years ago (Younger Friend, played by Maren Bush) when Asle went off to the water’s edge. Never to return.
Abandoned in her lovely house, the Older Woman lives a desolate life reminiscing about that day and watching the bay.
Much of the tension in “A Summer Day” comes from waiting for the other shoe to drop.It never does. As Karen Allen’s character narrates the story, we bait our breath for something unexpected to happen.
A long, somewhat tedious, yet oddly engrossing tone-poem of mourning and loss, “A Summer Day” is lovingly executed.
For more information about “A Summer Day,” and a schedule of performance, please visit www.rattlestick.org.