Posted in #dystopia, dysfunction, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012, Festival Fringe-bound and Festival Fringe-found, fringe worthy, off Broadway, offbeat work

What’s up?

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Boomerang Theatre Company’s playbill art.

Inspiration comes in serendipitous doses.

That at least is the case for The Mushroom Cure by Adam Strauss and developed and directed by Jonathan Libman. In his Fringe Fesitval winner (2016 Overall Excellence for a Solo Performance,) Strauss recounts his attempts to self-medicate his crippling OCD.  Fittingly for a solo show that explores the mental health benefits of hallucigenic fungi, The Mushroom Cure is simultaneously being performed in the East Village (at Theatre 80 St. Mark’s), and in Berkeley and (fleetingly) in LA. Sponsorship for the productions is provided by The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a psychedelic research and advocacy organization.

Smith Street Stage is putting on the greatest summer comedy in the repertoire at The Actors Fund Arts Center in Brooklyn.  A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as directed by Jonathan Hopkins, is transported to our New York, looking at the magic in our home town in the spirit of Shakespeare.

There is more Shakespeare on offer, of course, this summer; as is its custom. the Public gives us Shakespeare in the Park, but this year, Boomerang Theatre Company is puttng on Twelfth Night (or What You Will), directed by Sara Thigpen, on the lawn in Central Park. Be grateful to the Bard as Twelfth Night is a tonic for our times.

Posted in acting, activists, actors, allegory, artist, aspiration, athletes, ballet, balletic, comedy-drama, committment, concert, Daily Prompt, dance, dancing, drama, empowerment, expectations, farce, film, high expectations, jazz, joy, memory play, Meryl Streep, mime, modern dance, monologues, movie, multi-disciplinary performances, music, musical theater, musical theatre, musicals, musicals and dramas, mystery, narration, off Broadway, Off or Off-Off Broadway Transfer, offbeat work, one act plays, one man show, one-woman show, opera, painting, pantomime, parody, performance art, performance piece, performance works, photography, play, play with music, public performance in public spaces, radio play, revival, revue, rock and roll, satire, scary stories, sci fi, screwball comedy, Short plays, sketches, skits, tango, tap dance, theater for the common good, theater lovers, theatrical events, tragedy, tragi-comic

Shine

via Daily Prompt: Shine with thanks to Ben Huberman, The Daily Post for the inspiration

NoLateSeatingThose who crave the spotlight most often become entertainers. Their talent demands it. It is their calling to shine.

We applaud them, and in so doing bask in the glow of their accomplishment. They are center stage with the footlights on them, but we are illuminated by their performance.

Their light shines on us as they render and interpret and presnet their truths. Greater  performers shine brightest, and we shine brighter too.

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 dark comedy drama, odd, offbeat work, Playwritghts Horizons

All Alone

Well-written, well-played and ultimately, well, annoying, Adam Bock’s A Life has gotten great reviews from almost everyone. We are the dessenting few.

extended2-124There is a banality in our daily lives that we want to hide behind long narratives of what we’ve done, and how we feel. We desperately want the ordinary to be extraordinary.

A Life by Adam Bock at Playwrights Horizons Directed by Anne Kaufman Starring David Hyde Pierce (pictured) and with Marinda Anderson, Brad Heberlee, Nedra McClyde, Lynne McCollough. Photo © Joan Marcus
A Life by Adam Bock at
Playwrights Horizons
Directed by Anne Kaufman
Starring David Hyde Pierce (pictured) and with Marinda Anderson,
Brad Heberlee, Nedra McClyde, Lynne McCollough. Photo © Joan Marcus

In A Life, Adam Bock’s new play at Playwrights Horizons through November 27th, the characters find it hard to connect.

Nate (David Hyde Pierce) delivers a long and (at least in my lights) tedious monologue, centering on relationships and the astrological that charts them. It’s a tribute to his talent and timing that he can hold our attention for as long as he does.

Bock engages the audience, although perhaps engage is too strong a word, involves the audience, first in

A Life by Adam Bock at Playwrights Horizons Directed by Anne Kaufman Starring David Hyde Pierce and with Marinda Anderson, Brad Heberlee, Nedra McClyde, Lynne McCollough. Photo © Joan Marcus
A Life by Adam Bock at Playwrights Horizons. Directed by Anne Kaufman. Starring David Hyde Pierce and with Marinda Anderson, Brad Heberlee, Nedra McClyde, Lynne McCollough. Photo © Joan Marcus

Nate’s soliloquy and then when his sister Lori (Lynne McCullough) thanks us all for coming. It is an irony that she is grateful that Nate had so many friends in his life, since the theme in A Life seems to be his isolation.

A Life by Adam Bock at Playwrights Horizons Directed by Anne Kaufman Starring David Hyde Pierce and with Marinda Anderson, Brad Heberlee, Nedra McClyde, Lynne McCollough. Photo © Joan Marcus
A Life by Adam Bock at Playwrights Horizons. Directed by Anne Kaufman. Starring David Hyde Pierce and with Marinda Anderson, Brad Heberlee, Nedra McClyde, Lynne McCollough. Photo © Joan Marcus

Of all the friends Nate narrates about, we meet only one in A Life.  Nate shares a coffee and man-gazing with his best friend is Curtis (Brad Heberlee) at a shop near his apartment.

Laura Jellinek’s active set pivots from one scene to another with deliberate drama. Anne Kaufman’s direction cannot keep the pace on this slow moving 85-minutes fast enough to keep the drama from sagging under its own weight.

To learn more about A Life, and for tickets, please visit the PH website.

Posted in beets, carrots, clowning, clowns, comedy, Eugene O'Neil, juggling, mime, offbeat work, onions, playing with food, skits, stage directions, vegetables

Actors’ Revenge and Other Clowning

Eugene O’Neill (“The Iceman Cometh,” “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” “Mourning Becomes Electra” etc.)is not known for inspiring chuckles but the New York Neo-Futurists (Neos) know how to get guffaws out of tough material.

In fact, you might think of “The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill Volume One: Early Plays/Lost Plays,” at The Kraine Theatre through extended to October 1st, 8th as the actor’s revenge on a playwright loath to allow anyone to mess with his vision. It is said that O’Neill would have preferred to have his plays just read, not acted, and his elaborate stage directions suggest an obsessive desire to micro-manage all aspects in the performance of his work.

With “The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill Volume One: Early Plays/Lost Plays,” the Neos continue the tradition they started in the mid ’90s of “embracing chance, change and chaos.”

The cast, six enactors, — Danny Burman, Brendan Donaldson, Cara Francis, Connor Kalista (not pictured,) Erica Livingston, and Lauren Sharpe, –and
a narrator, Jacquelyn Landgraf (also not pictured), are inventive and lively.

Photo © Anton Nickel  

“The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill Volume One: Early Plays/Lost Plays,” adapted and directed by Christopher Loar, compiled from seven early O’Neill works, features narrated stage directions which lead the ensemble to scramble, reassemble props, strike poses, fall onto seats, and make their exits.

There is no O’Neill script for the Neos to follow, but they elicit hysterical laughter while depicting O’Neill’s descriptions of action, character (in both senses of the word.)

The cast entertain by making nuanced adjustments to capture expressions, gestures, even sighs. “The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill Volume One: Early Plays/Lost Plays” is exhilirating and giddy.

For more on “The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill Volume One: Early Plays/Lost Plays,” and the Neos work, please visit http://www.nyneofuturists.org/
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The Other Clowning: Jaime Carswell and Nancy Trotter Landry, under the direction of Pablo Ibarluzea are “Cirque De Legume

It’s the leeks, carrots, beets, onions, artichoke, lettuce and hot peppers that give these circus artists, Jaime Carswell and Nancy Trotter Landry, their name. They are “Cirque De Legume!”

Cirque De Legume,” at 59E59 Theaters, as part of the citywide 1st Irish Festival, through October 2nd, hail from London by way of Paris’ respected “clown school”–Ecole Jacques Lecoq. Jaime Carswell and Nancy Trotter Landry enter to rollicking big tent music and great fanfare.

Photo © Mark Fearon  

After their big entrance, they seem ill-at-ease, and the rest of the performance is dedicated to challenging the audience. “How about that?” is their refrain after every trick. “Cirque De Legume” ise delicious slight-of-hand, and acrobatics in their successful effort to please the crowd.
They add a sports metaphor to their routine when she spells out C-I-R-Q-U-E… and they bump chests.

Training a barking lettuce named “Dusty” to jump for a carrot is just the opening number in this manic and charming show.

Visit www.59E59.org
for a schedule of performances. Also see what else is taking place during the 1st Irish Festival at http://www.1stirish.org/