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Showing posts from December, 2016

Martin Luther on Trial

The Fellowship for Performing Arts has just produced a play called Martin Luther on Trial, by Chris Cragin-Day and Max McLean, at The Pearl Theatre. It puts Martin Luther in historical, personal and, most importantly, ideological context. It’s a sort of courtroom drama. The Devil himself is prosecuting Luther for “the unforgivable sin”. Luther’s wife, Katie Von Bora (“a runaway nun”), is his defender. “The unforgivable sin” is defined variously, but essentially as “telling God I don’t need you.” The script presents Luther in a non-linear way, into his later life, when he states “I am orthodox.”
The witnesses in this strange case come from a range of personalities and periods: Hitler; Freud; Martin Luther King; Pope Francis. And there are others, like Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and even The Brothers Grimm, whom we never see. The officiating judge is St. Peter.
The trial takes place in the Afterlife – neither heaven nor hell nor Earth. But from time to time the lights isolate a downstage area…

The Big Uncut Flick

Sometimes we don’t want a massive production, especially when we want a comedy. And so Gracye Productions’ mounting of Todd Michael’s play The Big Uncut Flick (at The Studio Theatre at Theatre Row) fits the bill for a slight 75 minutes of fun. The show presents an afternoon TV movie program (the titular Big Uncut Flick) in 1953. There are two hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Matinee, aka Jack Sheldon and Arlene Lewis, who epitomize the bland complacency of the fifties. The script puts them squarely in the period. “As Senator Joe McCarthy would say,” says Jack, “Point of order, Mr. Chairman.” And “You think our commercials are annoying, you should see the ones they show on Russian TV.”

The rest of the cast perform on stage the day’s movie, a 1934 crime drama called Say Ya Prayers, Ya Mug. It’s about an ex-convict, a police sergeant, the ex-convict’s sister (who’s a nun), a singer, a nice girl from the mid-West just arrived in the city – in short, the whole crew of stock movie characters. We soon sto…

Man in Snow

Israel Horovitz’ play Man in Snow began its life as a radio play, and the playwright adapted it for the stage. The set consists of a single chair and a significant amount of the dialogue consists of phone conversations. It still feels like a radio play.
Man in Snow is a portrait of a man, David, haunted by the memory of a lost son, Joey. The play begins with his wife, Franny, screaming “No”, as the family has just been told of Joey’s death in a motorcycle accident. The remainder of the play jumps around in later time, and mostly takes place six years later,
David speaks to his lost son and Joey generally appears onstage when he does. But David talks to Joey even during conversations with living characters. This would be effective expression of inner life, but some of the things David says to Joey are so obvious that they lack specificity and dramatic pith – “Why am I alive, Joey” and “Why did you die, Joey?”
David guides a group of tourists up Mt. McKinley, and he calls his wife on the …