Posted in #whatdoyouthink, actors, African-American playwrights, artist, based on a novel, based on a true story or event, based on a true story or event and historical documents, based on true events, brutality, chronicle, deep South, empowerment, ensemble acting, famous, film, Fox Studios, historical drama, history, honky, husbands and wives, KKK, meditation on life, movie, new work, opinion, poignant, race, racism, riff, sci fi, serious, serious subject, showcase, timely, TV, Valentine's Day

Serially entertaining

Actors and screen-writers are busier these days than they have been in some time. There are “streaming” shows, 100s of cable outlets producing both series and movies, and of course Hollywood and the Indie scene all requiring their talents and services.

We are the beneficiaries of all this production. We will be enlightened, entertained and excited by the films they produce.

What better way to spend Valentine’s Day than binge watching Divorce?

Gifted, the movie with Chris Evans and Mckenna Grace, and not so incidentally Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate, Lindsay Duncan, and Elizabeth Marvel, is touching without being maudlin. It is generally intelligent, with a sterling performance by young Ms. Grace, and until we saw it last night on HBO, I had not heard much about it.

The assignment for Black History Month can include the excellent Get Out, Jordan Peele’s genius defies and reinvents the “horror” genre. It should also feature a viewing of Birth of a Nation, perhaps both in its regressive D.W. Griffith 1915 version and Nate Parker’s 2016 “remake.” The contrast between a paen to the Ku Klux Klan and to Nat Turner’s slave rebellion may prove edifying. Add Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (although not our personal favorite) to your list of films for 2018. (In the New Yorker, Vinson Cunningham expresses a different view, especially of Parker’s film.)

Art is meant to engender controversy, stimulate and even incense and enrage. We should not be passively diverted in its presence. It is here to help us ponder life’s (and history’s) biggest issues.

Thanks to films and serial dramas we have a lot to consider and enjoy. And we are treated to some terrific performances in the bargain.

Posted in dark comedy drama, love story, Valentine's Day

Love Goes Underground in "The Man Under"

L-R: Briana Pozner and Paul Bomba in THE MAN UNDER at 59E59 Theaters. 
Photo by Bitten By A Zebra Photography

Some of us need a jolt to come out of a deep funk.


In “Man Under,” presented by Athena Theatre at 59E59 Theaters through February 17th, a depressed young man is enlivened by an odd encounter.

Jeff (Paul Bomba, also the author) walks around in a fog of grief, worrying his friends, Martin (Curran Connor) and Jennifer (Veronique Ory). Martin is thrilled to help Jeff find the girl he met on a subway platform and Jennifer wonders how exactly they are searching for this stranger. 

L-R: Briana Pozner, Paul Bomba and Curran Connor in THE MAN UNDER at 59E59 Theaters. 
Photo by Bitten By A Zebra Photography


When Jeff finds Lisa (Briana Pozner) standing next to him once again on a platform, she leads him on another merry chase through the subway tunnels. Lisa shares the art of dodging the third rail with Jeff. She is an adrenalin rush to Jeff. Her energy invigorates him and Lisa also inspires Jennifer to move on. Lisa is a troubled sprite. 

Exhilirated by the thrill ride Lisa takes him on, Jeff finds his lost peace.

A winsome cast perform with an easy naturalism in “Man Under.”
L-R: Curran Connor, Veronique Ory and Paul Bomba in THE MAN UNDER at 59E59 Theaters. 
Photo by Bitten By A Zebra Photography


The small proscenimum stage (scenic design by Julia Noulin-Mérat) doubles as a comfy Brooklyn apartment and expands to an underground labyrinth of graffitti and danger. Charles Foster (lighting) and Jeremy S. Bloom (sound) take us into the subterranean world of the MTA in their excellent designs.

In the end, it seems that love and good sense triumph in “Man Under.”

For more information about “Man Under,” visit www.59e59.org.

Posted in 2-hander, Canal Park Playhouse, juggling, play with music, romance, Singing in the rain, Valentine's Day

In The Mood for Love?

With Valentine’s Day approaching, many of us turn our thoughts to couplehood– which includes love, of course, and often much more.

Cora Bissett as Helena with Matthew Pidgeon as Bob in “Midsummer [a play with songs]” by David Grieg, who also directs with songs by Gordon McIntyre. Costumes by Georgia McGuiness. at the Clurman. Photo by Douglas Robertson 

Each year, Carol Tambor heads to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to sample the unusual and find the play she deems to be “Best of Edinburgh.” The Carol Tambor Theatrical Foundation then presents the play thus designated to New York audiences. Last year the work was “Leo” (See review on these pages.)  This year, “Midsummer [a play with songs]”by David Grieg, who also directs, at Theatre Row’s Clurman Theatre through January 26th, shares the Award with “Mies Julie,” currently running at St. Ann’s Warehouse.

Midsummer [a play with songs]” is an early Valentine’s gift from Ms Tambor to us. In Midsummer [a play with songs]” romance is a by-product of a quest.  

Searching for meaning in booze, sex and bondage (it’s a long story!), Helena (Cora Bissett) and Bob (Matthew Pidgeon) find something far more valuable– friendship and 15,000.

When they meet, Bob is reading “Dostoyevsky… to cheer himself up.” Despite his overtly intellectual endeavors, Bob is “a f****** underachiever.” Their match-up is improbable. He is a low to mid level crook, and she’s a swanky divorce lawyer.

Photo by Douglas Robertson. Helena (Cora Bissett) and Bob (Matthew Pidgeon) in “Midsummer [a play with songs]” by David Grieg, who also directs with songs by Gordon McIntyre. Costumes by Georgia McGuiness.


“Midsummer [a play with songs]” is not for everyone. Love and romance mingles with philosophical asides and silliness in this not strictly linear tale. Songs are interspersed with the narrative and dialogue. “And so– when you see them — the runners,” Helena says, “weaving and glistening through the crowds– you might think, ‘look at them, the fools, they’re trying to run away from death,’ — but they’re not– they’re honestly not– they’re running towards something….”

The central bed is the all-purpose set, cleverly designed by Georgia McGuiness, which also has convenient storage for some of the props the actors need.

Photo by Douglas Robertson of Matthew Pidgeon as Bob and Cora Bissett as Helena in “Midsummer [a play with songs]” by David Grieg, who also directs with songs by Gordon McIntyre. Costumes by Georgia McGuiness. 


While you’re in a romantic mood, take your sweetie to see “Perfect Catch,” being reprised at Canal Park Playhouse on Saturdays and Sundays at 1pm and 4pm through February.

Perfect Catch,” billed as “Throw-mantic Comedy”  takes mime and juggling to Hollywood. Just watching
Jen Slaw and Michael Karas toss umbrellas to the soundtrack of “Singing In The Rain” is worth the price of admission.

To get tickets for “Midsummer [a play with songs],” visit www.telecharge.com. To learn more about “Perfect Catch,” visit www.canalparkplayhouse.com