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Showing posts from April, 2018

Miss You Like Hell

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photo by Joan Marcus
Miss You Like Hell, at The Public Theater, is topical and timely, a musical about a Mexican resident of the US who’s requesting a stay of deportation (it’s also called a “cancellation of removal”, as if the individual were an object). But the play presents in its foreground not a political issue but a genuine personal drama. If it’s uneven, its concept is solid.
The character with the looming deportation hearing in Los Angeles is Beatriz. She surprises her daughter in Philadelphia, Olivia, whom she hasn’t seen in years, with a visit and an invitation to accompany her on a westward road trip for a week. The substance of the play is the mother/daughter bonding on this geographical and spiritual trip, accusation and forgiveness.
There are events on this road trip, but they’re episodes; one doesn’t lead to another. Early on the trip, they meet a pair of older gay men who travel the country getting married in each state (they’re on their 24th state). The men are unexpecte…

Martyrs

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photo by Theo Cote
Romana Soutus’ play Martyrs, at La MaMa, presents nine women in a room with two king-sized beds and a garish sort of expressionist Madonna on the wall. The walls are chicken wire, like a cage.
This is a secluded cult, with three leaders whom the program calls cats, and six followers whom the program calls kittens. They’re all waiting be “lifted”, living in the eternal present. “There’s no before. There’s only now,” one says. They talk a lot, but nothing happens until late in the play. Nothing can happen because the characters, for the most part, are deliberately not individuated. The cats are three manifestations of cat and the kittens are six manifestations of kitten. What happens to one cat physically happens to all three.
This is innovative playwrighting as far as it goes. And it’s clever of Ms. Soutus to  keep the play so abstruse that we spend the early part asking “Who are these people? What’s happening?” However, she hasn’t overcome the problem of plotlessness, …

It Came from Beyond

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What we do without science fiction? It keeps our imagination sharp even when it’s not on-the-mark predictive. And we can see the imaginative value even in the sci-fi of the past.
photo by Adam Smith Jr.
It Came from Beyond is a musical frolic through the sci-fi of the 1950’s, produced by John Lant, Cornell Christian and ICFB Productions, at St. Luke’s Theater. It’s not so much a send-up as an comic musical interpretation, with a book by Cornell Christianson and with music and lyrics by Stephen M. Schwartz and Norman E. Thalheimer. It presents a story about a high school student reading a sci-fi comic book paralleled by a story about a military scientist detecting an interplanetary invasion. So the writer has it both ways, and he does a great job of twining the two plot lines together. Actors double as students and military staff: the teen-age nerd parallels the military professor, the school bully parallels the alien in the military base, etc… It’s really cool!
Jim Blanchette’s direction…

Love Trade

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photo by Theo Cote
The pre-show set of The Hess Collective’s production of Elizabeth Hess’ play Love Trade, at La MaMa, is stunning: when we enter the theater we see something shrouded under white gauze, in a white spotlight, with dozens of white balloons on the floor, all on an otherwise unadorned stage with a black floor and backdrop. When the show begins that something begins to move and gradually reveals itself to be actress, but she removes the gauze so subtly (by the lower layers, I think) that the revelation is gradual. We see her arms moving and we’re astonished when a third arm appears, and then a fourth. Ultimately two actresses reveal themselves. Great! The two laughing women show themselves to be Persephone and Demeter. 
To review that wonderful Greek myth: Persephone, the daughter of Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, is kidnapped by Hades, the god of the underworld, who brings her to the nether-world with him. While Demeter searches for her, the crops don’t grow, as she…