Showing posts from September, 2013

Mr. Bengt’s Wife

Mr. Bengt’s Wife

by August Strindberg
produced by The August Strindberg Repertory Theatre
directed by Craig Baldwin
translated by Malin Tybahl and Laurence Carr
at the Gene Frankel Theatre
off-off Broadway The August Strindberg Repertory Theatre has laudably taken on the task of presenting Strindberg’s plays off-off Broadway. Its fourth production is is Mr. Bengt’s Wife. The play concerns a willful and unlikable young woman, Margit, who leaves the convent to marry an aristocrat, only to find a year later that her husband has met financial ruin.

August Strindberg wrote Mr. Bengt’s Wife in 1882, three years after Ibsen‘s A Doll’s House scandalized audiences with its own story of a woman with a husband no-longer-solvent. The two plays are often compared, with Bengt considered a response to Ibsen’s play. Ibsen’s Nora, of course, walks out on her family, and Stindberg’s script hinges, in part, on Margit’s impulse to leave her husband and baby daughter. The mutual influence of Strindberg …

Sacred Elephant

Sacred Elephant
by Heathcote Williams
directed by Geoffrey Hyland
with Jeremy Crutchley
presented by Sheernerve productions in association with Cockpit
from South Africa British writer Heathcote Williams is known for a set of four extended poems concerned with aspects of environmentalism or wildlife preservation. One of these, Sacred Elephant, has been adapted into a magnificent 70-minute monologue directed by Geoffrey Hyland and performed by Jeremy Crutchley.

The script is mystical, beginning:
The shape of an African elephant’s ear is the shape of Africa.
The shape of an Indian elephant’s ear is the shape of India…
As if Nature had kept an ear to the ground when listening to the elephant’s territorial requests.

It alludes to environmentalism, religion, myth and other mindsets to see the noble beast from an encompassing circle. It’s free verse, at times ironic but usually lyrical. Its outrage at our abuse of the animal is never violent or assaultive. It alludes to the modern (referring at …

Viennese Waltz

Steve Capra's review of
Final Analysis

by Otho Eskin
directed by Ludovica Villar-Hauser
produced by Signature Center, off-Broadway
August seventh to October sixth, 2013 Vienna was the center of central Europe of the turn of the 20th century. The upper classes were still enjoying life in these last days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, while the masses struggled, typically for the period, in poverty. In that city many of the talents of the early 20th century lived, and many of the century’s ideas were born.

1910 Vienna is the setting for Otho Eskin’s play Final Analysis. The play was a roaring success at the New York International Fringe Festival last year. It presents no lesser personages than Gustav Mahler, his wife Alma (who would, incidentally, later marry Walter Gropius and Franz Werfel), Ludwig Wittgenstein, Josef Stalin and Sigmund Freud.Mahler, as it happens, engaged the services of Sigmund Freud during the period. Mahler’s relationship with Alma, shown in flashbacks during an ini…

En Avant!

Steve Capra’s review of En Avant

written and performed by William Shuman
directed by Ruis Woertendyke
produced as part of the New York International Fringe Festival, 2013

A one-man play poses unique problems. With no plot, structure, conflict or the other dramatic tools, they’re difficult to pull off. William Shuman has done a splendid job in En Avant!: an evening with Tennessee Williams. Shuman wrote and performs the piece. En Avant (onward) was Williams’ dauntless motto.

It’s been 30 years since Williams’ death. He led a life ripe for the biographer, with violent ups and downs. On the artistic plane, he saw two Pulitzers and critical rejection. Personally, he dealt with being gay, alcoholism and commitment to an asylum. Not to mention a breathtakingly dysfunctional family. And, on the positive side, lovers.

Shuman’s based the script on Williams’ journals. He presents his life in a non–linear way, creating a dreamy tone. For those of us familiar with the playwright’s biography, he offer…