Posts

Showing posts from April, 2017

The Conspiracists

“Every time they fire up The Large Hadron Collider, they open up a portal to a parallel universe,” a character in The Conspiracists points out. What’s more, “the collider was fired up 12 hours ago.” Quite promising for the first scene of a play. Or the second or third, for that matter. And indeed, we hear these lines in all three scenes of TheConspiracists, a clever play byMax Baker. The three scenes all take place at 8:47 pm on November 1, 2016, in the same church basement. The Under-35 Conspiracy Theorists Addict Support Group is holding their weekly meeting in each scene. “My name is Win and I’m addicted to conspiracy theories,” its leader announces.
The three scenes are alike in many of their particulars. The four regular attendees of the group are the same. We find Jo sitting alone when the lights come up; Win enters and says “Oh, hey Jo.” Then the other two regulars and a newcomer join them. The newcomer has a different name in each scene, although she’s played by the same actres…

The Room Sings

Sitting in the audience of The Room Sings, I thought of Caliban’s marvelous speech in The Tempest:
Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
And so is this play full of noises that give delight. The Room Sings, which is presented by La MaMa in association with Talking Band, blends dialogue with background sound and music so beautifully that they together form one sublime soundscape. There are chirping and banging, vibes and a sort of pinging, and a voice that’s doing something like scatting. There are water sounds and a sound that’s a cross between a whistle and a soft scream. And when the coyote cries, one of the characters says “It sounds like it’s in pain.”
The aural delights aren’t beneath the dialogue in the way we might expect. Sound and dialogue are carefully woven together in this production. Indeed, the cast deliver their lines as if those lines were music. As directed by Talking Band’s Artistic Director Paul Zimet, who also…

Rare Birds

Adam Szymkowicz’ play Rare Birds, which has just been produced by The Red Fern Theatre Company at the 14th Street Y (off-off-Broadway), is a study of high school bullying. I’m going to tell you the plot, so beware – I include a spoiler! I’m doing it because it needs to be discussed in detail.
Dylan and Mike bully Evan mercilessly. They beat him up at school and execute a cyberbullying scam that leads him to make a video that he thinks is going to Jenny, the girl he’s after. Actually, of course, it’s going to Dylan, who shows it to the school student body. Worse, Dylan, who’s the lead bully, shows up at Evan’s bedroom window and gives him a gun, telling him to shoot himself. Evan makes a suicide video and is about to blow his brains out when Jenny shows up at his window. Mike has sent her, after Dylan told him about giving Evan the gun. Jenny saves Evan by validating his worth.
There’s also a subplot concerning Evan’s mother and her boyfriend, Ralph. Ralph tries to teach Evan to fight. “…

Tao Marayao (The Good Person)

Tao Marayao (The Good Person) is a dance/movement piece about the Samal Balangingi, a maritime tribe from an island in the Southern Philippines. It’s part myth, part cultural history, presented through traditional Samal dance and narrative movement. Its story concerns the Spanish Conquest, from the arrival of the conquistadors to a sort of Samal diaspora in America.
Tao Marayao is presented by La MaMa, in association with Kinding Sindaw, an organization with the mission of preserving indigenous Philippine culture. The show’s concept comes from Potri Ranka Manis Queano Nur (of Kinding Sindaw), who also directed and choreographed the show. The choreography ranges from stylization of real-life movement, as when the oarsmen row ships, to pure dance, as when the Samal women dance for visitors. The dance/movement is wonderful, graceful, a delight to watch. The barefoot dancers’ toe-out walk, their eloquent hand and finger gestures, their high-kneed walk are absolutely delicious. They general…

Vanity Fair

William Thackeray wrote Vanity Fair as a monthly serial between 1847 and 1848. It was well received and set the foundation for later novels to come, in the Victorian era. Its story, set during the Napoleonic Wars, centers around two young women, friends, Becky Sharp and Amelia Sedley. We meet them as they leave Miss Pinkerton’s Academy and we follow them as their and their husbands’ fortunes rise and fall. Thackeray’s moral points are clear throughout. His concerns are with money and status, and their corruption of society and our personal relations.
Thackeray contrasts Becky, the sharp-witted adventuress, with the conventional and virtuous Amelia. Amelia comes from a prosperous family and marries George Osborne for love. However, since her father has been ruined and she is now poor, George’s father disinherits him. Becky, on the other hand, is a penniless orphan who marries a man, Rawdon Crawley, who has at least the hope of an inheritance. She climbs the social ladder through shrewd …