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Showing posts from July, 2017

A Toy Gun

The Georgian-American Theatrical Feast has been taking place Off-off-Broadway, introducing audiences to theater from the country of Georgia through several readings and two full productions presented by Red Lab Productions. The production I attended was of Tamar Bartaia’s two-character play A Toy Gun, presented by Red Lab Productions and Otar Margania.
The play’s story begins with a 14-year-old girl (Mea) auditioning for a popular actor (Yo), who humiliates her, saying “You’ve got not talent”. She soon returns to the theater threatening him with a realistic toy gun. He grovels on his knees, saying “You were the most talented of all the girls.” She tosses the gun aside and leaves. 
This event is the only important piece of dramatic action in the play. Indeed, the characters hardly see one another again. What’s noteworthy about the script is Ms. Bartaia’s deft dialogue technique. The actors nearly always address us; the dialogue at the audition is atypical. They can generally - not always…

The Enchantment

Victoria Benedictsson was a Swedish writer writing at the end of the 19th century. She’s noted for her novels and, to a lesser extent, for a play called The Enchantment. She had a passion for the famous critic Georg Brandes, and it’s conjectured that he seduced her. At any rate, she committed suicide in 1888, just after writing The Enchantment.
Her life was well known, and she is said to have been a model for Strindberg’s Miss Julie and Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler. However, Germaine Greer has pointed out that she has little in common with those dramatic characters besides suicide. At any rate, Louise, the central character of The Enchantment, certainly anticipates those two characters. After indulging in a prolonged love affair in Belle Époque Paris, Louise commits suicide.
At the play’s opening, we meet Louise as she’s recovering from an illness. In the first scene she meets Alland, a sculptor. Louise is a timid innocent, of course, and Alland a libertine, but as the relationship develops we…

Bastard Jones

Bastard Jones, produced off-Broadway by the cell, is a musical adaptation of Henry Fielding’s 1749 novel The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. Fielding’s title character, of course, is a good-natured libertine, the sex addict who falls in love with the nice girl, Sophia. The plot, which is convoluted even in this pared-down adaptation, is of no particular importance. It just concerns Tom’s sexual adventures. He’s banished and nearly executed for his ill-considered lifestyle. At the end, of course, he wins the virtuous Sophia. The novel was such a scandal that the Bishop of London claimed that its publication caused the Great earthquake of 1850.
The lengthy novel has been trimmed to accommodate a cast of nine, with most actors playing multiple roles. The title role is played by Evan Ruggiero, who is an amputee. He performs wearing a wooden prosthetic leg which he puts on during the first scene. The show is in no way apologetic about the prosthetic. At one point a character makes a joke…

(Not) Water

For the first hour or so of (Not) Water, the audience sits in a large circle in a very large room. The actors present, in a disjointed flow, vignettes representing the process that led to the production. We meet the artists and watch some fictitious scenes and hear some stories, even some stand-up. The show, we learn, was conceived in 2006, and following years are marked by climate events – a 2007 flood in India, a 2008 snowfall in Baghdad, Hurricane Sandy. There’s a song about a mop – “The mop cleans everything, but no one cleans the mop” – that’s clever if rather off the point.
So far, the show is intriguing but uneven. Then the lights go out, and we’re told to evacuate the theater. Hurricane Gwyneth (a fictitious hurricane) has caused a power outage. We leave the theater, staying in the building, and we’re ushered into a small space with a single actor, and for about a half-hour he delivers a monologue. The actor – a terrific actor – is Mike Shapiro. He’s playing a man who’s been hu…