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Showing posts from June, 2018

Cyprus Avenue

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photo by Roa Kavanagh
The Public Theater has brought across the Atlantic Cyprus Avenue from The Abbey Theatre, Dublin, and The Royal Court Theatre, London. David Ireland has written a 100-minute piece that starts as a black comedy and morphs into serious tragedy.
In late middle age, poor Eric, a Protestant in Belfast, has been having trouble sleeping. The insomnia triggers a psychotic episode, and we watch as his delusion develops. He has a new granddaughter, Mary Mae, who looks like Gerry Adams, the Catholic political leader (and, some would say, terrorist sympathizer). No! He decides Mary Mae is Gerry Adams! Worse, he’s always considered himself British, but now he worries that he himself might be - gasp! - Irish.
From then on, it’s an unswerving downward trajectory. Eric befriends Slim, a Protestant paramilitarist out on his first job, which is to kill Eric because he’s been raving on the park. Eric talks him out of this, and, by way of compensation, invites him to kill Mary Mae.
The p…

Othello

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photo by Joan Marcus
What a strange set of inexplicable choices director Ruben Santiago-Hudson has made in The Public Theater’s production of Othello at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park! He has, first of all, cast a black actor in the role of Roderigo. There’s no point in Othello’s being a black man if he’s not the only black man in the story. The entire subtext of racism that runs through the play is lost, and Brabantio’s outrage at his daughter’s marriage is ill-explained. The beating of the play’s heart has been stopped. This is Shakespeare victimized by political correctness.
Secondly, Mr. Santiago-Hudson has cut Othello’s epileptic seizure, although he’s retained most of the scene in which it occurs. We never  see the intensity of The Moor’s emotions, particularly not his state of mind before he commits the murder.
In fact, Mr. Santiago-Hudson has cut considerably, both through fine pruning and large hacking. A couple of the shortest scenes disappear completely, such as II, 2. …

A Blanket of Dust

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Photo by Sharon Kinsella
In Richard Squires’ play A Blanket of Dust, presented at The Flea Theater by Delphi Film in association with Alfonso Ramos and Eve Pomerance, a woman, Diane, looses her husband in the 9-11 disaster. She’s convinced that the government is responsible for the catastrophe, and campaigns to uncover the conspiracy. She’s a Senator’s daughter, so the issue becomes a family affair. Years later, she becomes involved with Andrew, a book store owner active in the dissident movement. Andrew is also at odds with his parents on political issues (his father is in government but it’s not clear what his position is.) In frustration, Andrew commits suicide - he sets fire to himself - in protest. This is all pretty grim, but, well, it’s a grim world, and it’s good to see issue- committed theater.
Mr. Squires’ keeps his script as lean as the WTC towers. The characters have no identity aside from their attitudes toward the issue, aside from the sketchy romance. There’s no particula…

Manufacturing Mischief

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photo by Sham Sthakiya
Manufacturing Mischief is a puppet play “by Pedro Reyes, written by Paul Hufker.” It’s not clear what those credits mean, but Mr Reyes is apparently the progenitor. It presents us with a discussion of artificial intelligence and other topics, and it’s really smart. We meet Steve Jobs, Noam Chomsky, Elon Musk, Ayn Rand and other luminaries. They’re woven together in a plot that’s just as complex and silly as it should be. It has something to do with a machine that materializes the author of whatever book is put into it - thus Marx, Rand and some of the others.
The script trivializes the characters as only puppetry can. When Chomsky is confronted by Rand, his student tells him “Use complicated logic to confuse her.” But it’s educated as well. When Musk tells Chomsky that someday “We’ll have AI who understand the world,” Chomsky replies “But not their place in it or the value of it.”
Donald Trump appears in the play as a small puppet, out of place, certainly, with his…

There's Blood at the Wedding

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photo by Richard Termine
There’s Blood at the Wedding uses puppets and “performing objects” to relate the deaths of six innocent Americans killed by police: Philando Castile, Amadou Diallo, Sandra Bland, Sean Bell, Justine Damond and Eric Garner. (To be fair, Sandra Bland’s inexplicable death may have been a suicide after she was jailed for not using her directional when she changed lanes.) It’s created, designed and directed by Theodora Skipitares and presented by La MaMa and Skysaver Productions. The conceit is that there is a book for each victim, and we’re presented with large books that open up to present the stories.
There’s a loose frame to the play presenting Federico Garcia Lorca. He opens with the line “Good evening and welcome to the humble theater we call home.” Then he disappears until the end, and this framing device should be developed.
Ms. Skipitares’ mission is simply to bear witness, and to her great credit she rarely accuses, and she never conflates the problem of poli…