Posted in #critique, #dystopia, #pointofview, #whatdoyouthink, ambition, Beau Willimon, Blair Brown, blog at wordpress.com, Derek McLane, drama, fictionalization_of_real_events, history, Hudson Theatre, intrigue, Jane Greenwood, Josh Lucas, Marton Csokas, one act play, Pam MacKinnon, Phillipa Soo

Matters political

5389Politics matters, of course, since it definitely affects our daily lives–especially as recent current events have revealed. You may understand when I say that I have felt undone by politics these past couple of years.

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And yet, here I go, voluntarily, to see The Parisian Woman, a tale of the DC Beltway playing at the Hudson Theatre through March 11th.

5189Initially, there were two things driving me to see this drama by Beau Willimon, the president of the Writers Guild of America East. The Parisian Woman stars Uma Thurman in her Broadway debut. Additionally, it is just the third production at the newly refurbished Hudson, following 1984 and Sundays in The Park with George. (By the by, both of these had star turns, the former Olivia Wilde and the latter starring Jake Gyllenhaal.)

So, what did the production, directed by Pam McKinnon, and also featuring Josh Lucas, Blair Brown, Phillipa Soo and Marton Csokas say to my hyper-poiliticized self about the atmosphere of power and influence in 2016?

5393Intrigues, gossip, clandestine activities, affairs, rumors all churn up Washington’s social life in The Parisian Woman. Chloe (Thurman) is looking for powerful friends to help her husband Tom (Josh Lucas) further his ambitions. She has none of her own, it seems, so she lives through those she loves. Peter (Marton Csokas) is her lover but not among the people for whom she really cares.

Thurman and Csokas give overly theatrical performances, though in their defense I will say that the material is a hard sell. The script is rough; I think of it as Noel Coward on Red Bull®. Lucas’s Tom is charming if excessively idealized. Blair Brown as one of Chloe’s power circle, Jeanette, is natural and straightforward; her acting like her character has a certain spunk. Phillipa Soo as Jeanette’s daughter Rebecca holds the stage with an easy poise.

Rebecca also gets to wear the one most singularly impressive and stunning gown (costumes designed by Jane Greenwood.) Chloe’s many outfits are attractive in the understated way of a very expensive wardrobe. The men are chic in suits except in one scene where Tom bears his six-pack, (We can assume that the latter is not courtesy of Ms. Greenwood, although her work in the show is very appealing.) The elegant sets (by Derek McLane) move in a clever fashion and feature a kind of newsfeed which is monochromatic Mondrienesque.

Polemics–even when the politics echo my own– are not inherently dramatic
Willimon’s text is stiff with an elegance manqué. Actually, both ends of the register get short shrift– The Parisian Woman is neither vulgar nor haute. The play aims so hard to be insiderish that it fails to qualify as #resist(ance). This blend of fiction with fact in Willimon’s play, could be called a “faction” drama. Many in the audience at the performance I attended seem to have come there as fans of Beau Willimon’s streaming series, House of Cards, another foray into the inner workings of the life political.

I am not saying that we should not take the excursion, just that Willimon’s The Parisian Woman is not an entirely convincing trip down this path.

For tickets and information, please visit The Parisian Woman website, or the Hudson Theatre box office at 141 West 44th Street.

Take a look at my SidewalkSuperBlog to see what I found of interest inside the new old Hudson Theatre.

Posted in drama, drama based on real events, family drama, new work, New York City, The New Group

Washington Square

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Moise Mordancy, Daniel Sovich, Cristian DeMeo, David Levi and Chloë Sevigny in Downtown Race Riot. For more, visit www.thenewgroup.org. Photo credit: Monique Carboni

Riots are inherently frightening incidents.

The New Group’s presentation of Seth Zvi Rosenfeld’s Downtown Race Riot, based on true events and running through December 23rd at the Pershing Square Signature Center, resonates with menace.

It’s us against them, even for Marcel “Massive” Baptiste (Moise Morancy), a kid born in Haiti, who feels it’s his neighborhood he’s defending from other blacks and ‘Ricans who come to the Park near his Greenwich Village home.

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Moise Morancy and Sadie Scott in Seth Zvi Rosenfeld’s Downtown Race Riot, directed by Scott Elliott. Photo credit: Monique Carboni

The boys Massive considers his friends are old-school, insular Italians, like his tagger buddy Jay 114 (Daniel Sovich) and  Tommy-Sick (Cristian DeMeo), whom his best friend Jimmy– aka Pnut– Shannon (David Levi) does not fully trust. Pnut does not share Massive’s community zeal, and his mother, Mary Shannon ( Chloë Sevigny) advocates for peace and love. Molly, strung out and living on welfare, maintains a kind of hippie sensibility. Her children, especially Pnut, look out for her. Mary’s daughter, Joyce (Sadie Scott) wants out of the life she sees around her and has a good chance to make it out.

Jay 114 and Tommy-Sick are among those who organized the riot meant to drive outsiders out of their stomping ground.

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Josh Pais, David Levi and Chloë Sevigny in Downtown Race Riot. This Off-Broadway production by The New Group plays a limited engagement at The Pershing Square Signature Center, Nov 14 – Dec 23. Photo credit: Monique Carboni

Rounding out the cast of characters is Mary’s lawyer, Bob Gilman (Josh Pais. who is perfectly twitchy in this small role). Bob is there to help Mary out with one of the many schemes she dreams up to make the family rich.

The acting in this ensemble, under Scott Elliott’s direction, is excellent and natural. There is a leisurely pace to the piece that belies its undercurrent of tension. In its unhurried progression, Downtown Race Riot takes its time to develop the characters. Derek McLane has designed an expansive and sprawling set for Downtown Race Riot; the scene is Mary’s Section 8 home.

Don’t look for uplift in Downtown Race Riot.  This is not the genteel world of a Henry James pastiche.

For more information and tickets, please visit Downtown Race Riot

Posted in drama, family drama, love story, Roundabout Theatre Company, theater

Boom boom boom

Love Love Love OFF BROADWAYDRAMA LAURA PELS THEATRE 111 W. 46TH S., NEW YORK, NY 10036 Sparked in the haze of the 60s, Love Love Love explores a relationship charred by today's brutal reality, paranoia and passion. Starring: Richard Armitage, Alex Hurt, Zoe Kazan, Ben Rosenfield, Amy Ryan Director: Michael Mayer PLAYWRIGHT: MIKE BARTLETT
Love Love Love Richard Armitage, Amy Ryan, and Alex Hurt Director btMichael Mayer; Play by Mike Bartlett Photo by Joan Marcus
Love Love Love OFF BROADWAYDRAMA LAURA PELS THEATRE 111 W. 46TH S., NEW YORK, NY 10036 Sparked in the haze of the 60s, Love Love Love explores a relationship charred by today's brutal reality, paranoia and passion. Starring: Richard Armitage, Alex Hurt, Zoe Kazan, Ben Rosenfield, Amy Ryan Director: Michael Mayer PLAYWRIGHT: MIKE BARTLETT
Love Love Love Richard Armitage, Amy Ryan, Ben Rosenfield and, Zoe Kazan. Photo by Joan Marcus

One of the many pleasures of theater is when the familiar turns into the unexpected.

When there’s Beatles’ songs, and a character starts rolling a joint, it’s clearly shorthand for the ’60s. And where do we go from the youthful exuberance of that era?

Playwright Mike Bartlett paints an unsentimental portrait of the generation that emerged from the summer of love. Can the disruption promised by the3 enthusiasms of the young be delivered?

Love Love Love OFF BROADWAYDRAMA LAURA PELS THEATRE 111 W. 46TH S., NEW YORK, NY 10036 Sparked in the haze of the 60s, Love Love Love explores a relationship charred by today's brutal reality, paranoia and passion. Starring: Richard Armitage, Alex Hurt, Zoe Kazan, Ben Rosenfield, Amy Ryan Director: Michael Mayer PLAYWRIGHT: MIKE BARTLETT
Richard Armitage, and Amy Ryan in a scene from Love Love Love. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Love Love Love OFF BROADWAYDRAMA LAURA PELS THEATRE 111 W. 46TH S., NEW YORK, NY 10036 Sparked in the haze of the 60s, Love Love Love explores a relationship charred by today's brutal reality, paranoia and passion. Starring: Richard Armitage, Alex Hurt, Zoe Kazan, Ben Rosenfield, Amy Ryan Director: Michael Mayer PLAYWRIGHT: MIKE BARTLETT
A scene from Love Love Love with Richard Armitage and Amy Ryan. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Love, Love, Love at Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theatre through December 18th, looks at what happens when the pendulum moves and years pass.

While Henry (Alex Hurt) fancies Sandra (Amy Ryan), his brother Ken (Richard Armitage) is the one she hones in on. Ken is at Oxford as she is, and Henry is just a working bloke. At 19, Sandra knows what she wants, weed and freedom.

Twenty years on, the revolutionary road has led Ken and Sandra to a home in the suburbs with two teenage kids, Jamie (Ben Rosenfield) and Rose (Zoe Kazan). Through it all, Ken and Sandra, still cheerful, seem unfazed by time and change. How have their offspring fared?

Boomers, take note, we might not have succeeded in saving the planet.

Walk down the path with Love, Love, Love to its clear-eyed and unflattering conclusion. It will prove most rewarding. We are always impressed by what Roundabout offers visually in its off-Broadway productions, and the sets by Derek McLane and time-inspired costuming by Susan Hilferty are no exception.

Michael Meyer deftly directs his flawless ensemble in Love, Love, Love. Richard Armitage and Amy Ryan stand out for their

Posted in drama, family drama

The Prodigy

Today we saw Her Requiem at LCT3 and we’re so wowed, that for once I am speechless.
Just go ahead and see it if you can! Her Requiem is, at least in part, about the intersection of family interests and public notoriety.

(Our anticipation of this production is at http://wp.me/p5jq0w-Iz.)

Greg Pierce, author of Slowgirl, which also played the LCT3 Claire Tow, (and a slew of other works produced around the country) wrote this commissioned new play, which opened in LC’s blackbox upstairs, beginning February 6th, playing through March 20th.

Like Slowgirl, Pierce’s Her Requiem is an arresting drama, starring Peter Friedman, Mare Winningham, Joyce Van Patten, Kelly McQuail, Naian Gonzalez Norvind, and Robbie Collier Sublett and directed by Kate Whoriskey and sets by Derek McLane.

Looking at what is private; what is incorruptible; and what belongs to the world may depend on a personal point of view, and Her Reqiuem explores these issues. Pierce has an intricate dramatic sense. He weaves a story with an intriguing and special rhythm.

Tickets at just $30 in a house that holds just 112 people go fast.

To learn more about LCT3, please visit our Sidewalksuperblog.