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Showing posts from May, 2017

The Roundabout

In J. B. Priestley’s 1932 play The Roundabout, Lord Kettlewell is having a trying day. He plays host to his mistress, to a dowager aristocrat, and to a chubby old buddy named Chuffy. What’s more, his daughter, a young woman he hardly knows and a communist to boot, drops by, maybe to stay. She’s brought a male comrade (they’ve just returned from Russia). And finally his estranged wife drops in.
This isn’t a great drama. In fact, there’s hardly any plot. People come and go, but the activities aren’t connected in any meaningful way and the story, such as it is, is highly predictable. In fact, the play would probably never receive any attention if it weren’t written by the playwright who wrote An Inspector Calls.
Cahoot Theatre Company, in association with The Other Cheek and Park Theatre, has just presented the play at 59E59 Theaters. And, stressful as it all may be for our long-suffering central character, this drawing room comedy is terrific fun for us. What makes the production so deli…

Kidnap Road

Ingrid Betancourt was a Colombian Senator who was kidnapped by FARC rebels while she was running for President in 2002. She was held hostage in the jungle for six-and-a-half years. Catherine Filloux has written a play based on Ms. Betancourt’s experience, Kidnap Road, which was recently presented by La MaMa.
The handsome set, by Justin Townsend, consists of a cube of violent white representing Ms. Betancourt’s prison. It has perforations in it, and it’s surrounded by long sticks representing the forest. There’s a swing downstage, suspended from the ceiling.
There are two performers in this production. Ms. Betancourt is played by Kimber Riddle. Marco Antonio Rodriguez plays a number of characters, including another hostage, a FARC guard, Ms. Betancourt’s father, and God.
Ms. Betancourt speaks with the other characters as the play moves around in time and location. In the most interesting dialogue, she talks with God, Whom Mr. Rodriguez sometimes plays while swinging on the swing. He’s as …

Karen Finley: The Expanded Unicorn Gratitude Mystery

Karen Finley’s latest work is The Expanded Unicorn Gratitude Mystery. It’s recently been presented by La MaMa as part of its Downtown Icons Series. And that’s suitable: Ms. Finley has been the very picture of downtown theater for decades.
In the 1990’s she was one of the NEA Four, performers whose NEA grants were canceled for violating “general standards of decency”. Ms. Finley took the government to court. The case finally ended up before the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the government.
The set for this production is really cool, cluttered, with music stands and a small table, all draped with fabric, and fabric hung like laundry, fabric hanging on the wall. There are two versions of The Unicorn in Captivity, and unicorn bric-a-brac.
As she has so often in the past, Ms. Finley performs solo, reading from a script, generally unbridled, sometimes in a harsh whisper, sometimes hysterical. She makes no attempt to impersonate people. The writing is inconsistent, self-contradictory,…