Showing posts from March, 2014

Tosca and the Two Downstairs

Tosca and the Two Downstairs
by Franca Valeri
directed by Laura Caparrotti
Laura Caparrotti
Marta Mondelli
from Kairos Italy Theater and Dicapo Opera
presented in Italian with English supertitles

Spoiler alert! Tosca and the Two Downstairs is an enormously creative piece from the Kairos Italy Theater, written by Franca Valeri. This two-character drama is set during the action of Tosca; it’s a spoken piece, not sung, the action of which takes place while the second act of the opera is going on offstage.

After an amusing little opening scene, we meet Emilia at the Palazzo Farnese, where she is porter. The play’s exposition consists of her describing the people around her (who are the characters from the opera) to her offstage husband. The two are in the service of Scarpia (the villain of the opera), to whom Emilia is devoted.
Iride enters, wife to Sciarrone (he’s straight from the opera as well). Scarpia is chief of police and Sciarrone, also an unsavory character, is his official tort…


The Onomatopoeia Theatre Company
directed by Thomas R. Gordon
withMiranda Webster
Sarah Hegarty
Plautus lived around the year 100 BC, his comedies are some of the earliest examples of Roman literature we have. One of the best known is Pseudolus. The playA Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum was based in part on this play.
Pseudolus is an example of comedy about the clever slave, in this case Pseudolus, naturally a role written for a man but played here by an actress, Miranda Webster. Pseudolus connives to get some money so that the son of his master can buy the slave girl he loves from her master, also naturally a role written for a man but played here by an actress, Sarah Hegarty. Naturally, by the end of the play Pseudolus succeeds in getting the money for the girl, but only after some pretty crafty work and some pretty complicated plot turns.
The Onomatopoeia Theatre Company has just staged Pseudolus in a passable production. Director Thomas Gordon …

Captain John Smith

Capt. Smith Goes to the Ukraine
from the Yara Arts Group
At La MaMa
Directed by Virlana Tkacz
Bob Holman
Susan Hwang
Julian Kytasty
The story from the early 1600’s of John Smith and the native American woman Pocahontas is iconic Americana. The native chief sentences him to execution; Pocahontas intercedes and saves him.
Smith was quite the adventurer. He also seems to have been quite taken with himself. He recorded his life in the first autobiography in English, The True Travels, Adventures and Observations of Captain John Smith, in Europe, Asia, Africa and America from Anno Domini 1593 to 1629.
Before Smith embarked for Virginia – who would have guessed? – he fought the Ottoman Turks and was enslaved. He was taken across the Black Sea to his owner’s mistress, to escape to Ukraine. Capt. John Smith Goes to the Ukraine, from the Yara Arts Group, is based on the account of this adventure his The True Travels book, and some of its passages are quoted verbatim.
For the most part, the show pass…

A Doll's House

A Doll’s House
by Henrik Ibsen
from The Young Vic, London
At The Brooklyn Academy of Music
Directed by Carrie Cracknell
February 2014
There’s no play more iconic the Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. It wasn’t the first modern drama, but it announced modern drama with unprecedented volume and insistence. It confronted Europe with theater as revolutionary. If Ibsen had written nothing but Doll’s House, his position theatrical paterfamilias (aka “The Father of Modern Drama”) would still be assured.
Doll’s House concerns a monumental simp – Nora – to whom her husband, Torvald, condescends to an epic degree. What he doesn’t know is that years earlier she forged her father’s signature to get a loan that would help him (he doesn’t even know about the loan). She’s been paying it back through scrimping and saving on her own allowance. Today the lender shows up to blackmail her. She believes that when her husband learns what’s happened he’ll take responsibility for it – but instead he floods her with abuse…