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Showing posts from August, 2016

Till Birnam Wood...

Till Birnam Wood… is an adaptation of Macbeth presented by John Schultz as part of The New York International Fringe Festival. At the show’s opening actors crawl on to the stage under a curtain. They say “Tis time,” and that’s our cue to put on our blindfolds, which we will keep on for the entire show.
In the darkness, simple sounds like pats on the back, a kiss or the clinking of daggers become utterly eloquent. And the word “Horror”, shouted out when Duncan’s death is discovered, evokes a deliciously gruesome image.
From time to time the Weird Sisters are heard, panting or whispering eerily under the dialogue, all the more weird for being unseen. And there’s a musical drone under the dialogue sometimes that’s effective, not intrusive.
In less creative hands the result would merely be a sort of living radio, just sound without sight. But Mr. Schultz, who’s directed the show, uses the fact of a shared space with imagination, and the show is absorbing as live theater.
The playing area co…

The Coward: a Madcap Fairytale

The Coward: a Madcap Fairytale is produced by The National Theatre of MatMadia and presented as part of The New York International Fringe Festival. It’s created by Maddy Campbell and Matt Phillips. Its subtitle – A Madcap Fairytale – describes it aptly, but it’s also a sort of clown show. We’re presented with a king and queen, a maid who murders the king and a servant dispatched after the maid. There’s lots of blood and vulgarity.
But it’s more complicated than that. Willie, the maid, played by Maddy Campbell, is part monster. It’s a second personality, dissociated from the personality of the maid. Ms. Campbell bounces between the two persona with violent twists of her neck.
It’s all presented in an eccentric and frenetic style. The make-up is elaborate and interesting, a sort of enhanced white-face. And the actors are skilled physically.
This is an interesting concept. The Coward might be successful theater if it were better executed. Unfortunately, the cast disappoints. They deliver …

The Legend of Oni

The Legend of Oni is a charming musical from Musical Company OZmate, a company from Takarazuka, Japan. Onis are the Japanese equivalent of ogres. They come to punish us humans when we’ve been bad. They are fearful to behold, and we die if we see the Onis marching. We become Onis when we harbor in our hearts “grudges and anger” (the phrase occurs several times in the play).
The play is set during the Heian period (between 794 to 1185), before the Samurai. The story concerns the nobleman Nagamichi and his two children, his son Ebuki and his daughter Toki. Nagamichi is an Oni in the sense that he has an evil heart, but Ebuki is an Oni in a different sense. He turns into an Oni and lives with them on the mountain. The Onis kidnap Toki and Nagamichi sends a servant to take her home.
The script plays with the idea of Onis and tells us that humans are the true Onis (because we are really the evil ones).
The stage is bare except for small screens upstage that roll as required, but the show is be…

Waiting for Obama

Waiting for Obama is an issue-based play by John Moore, presented as part of the New York International Fringe Festival. It’s produced by Wild Blindness Productions and Bas Bleu Theatre Company from Denver, Colorado. Readers considering seeing Mr. Moore’s play at a later production should be warned that this review contains spoilers.
In this play we meet Hank and his son Peter, who are standing at their respective doors of their “little duplex in the woods outside of Colorado Springs” with their AR-15’s, waiting for President Obama. Hank believes Obama is going to come to take away his guns (they’re on his wall); Peter (who voted for Obama – twice) has invited him. Hank is a standard Fox News redneck; his wife, Martha, is more enlightened. “There’s a drought in this country, Martha,” he tells her, “Freedom is dying of thirst.” We’re guided throughout the show by Benny, Peter’s son, who lives on the roof and addresses us throughout the play.
The action of the play is interrupted several…

2 by Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams’ dialogue is naturalistic inasmuch as we can feel the southern heat in its details. It’s nearly expressionist in its evocativeness. It’s quintessentially American. Williams is served very well in 2 by Tennessee Williams, a pair of Williams’ one-act plays, 27 Wagons Full of Cotton and Kingdom of Earth, produced by Fabco Productions at St. Luke's Theater.
Williams called 27 Wagons Full of Cotton “a Mississippi Delta Comedy”.It’s comprised mostly of a seduction scene. Jake has burned down Silva’s cotton gin so that Silva has to contract the work ginning out the cotton to him. Left alone with Jake’s wife, Flora, for the afternoon while Jake is doing the work, Silva figures out what Jake has done from things that Flora says. He retaliates by methodically seducing Flora. That evening, when Jake returns and Silva has left, Flora tells Jake that she expects Silva to return with more orders.
Kathryn Luce Garfunkel gives us marvelous work as Flora. Flora is intellectually …