Keith J. Conallan in DON JUAN COMES HOME FROM IRAQ, Wilma Theatre, photo by Alexander Iziliaev

DON JUAN COMES HOME FROM IRAQ (Wilma): A Disparate Jigsaw

Call it Don Juan or Don Giovanni, the Don Juan story, handed down through time, is pre-loaded with a mix of serious and comic elements and a supernatural dimension. DON JUAN COMES HOME FROM IRAQ, from theater luminaries Paula Vogel (playwright) and Banka Zizka (director), has the gravitas down and doesn’t lose sight of humor, but extra pieces lodge within this puzzle’s slippery treatment of time and reality.

Photo by Paola Nogueras.

TRUE WEST (Theatre Exile): a rare, in-your-face take on a modern classic

Theatre Exile mounts new, dicey plays and modern classics—badass classics, that is, from outstanding contemporary playwrights like Tracy Letts, Martin McDonough, and in this case, Sam Shepard. For anyone out…

WATER BY THE SPOONFUL (Arden Theatre): Dissonance v. harmony

The tragic news of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death by OD has, for the moment, wrested the subject of substance abuse from the shadows and thrust it into the limelight. With…

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17 BORDER CROSSINGS (Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental/FringeArts): Voyage of imagination

“Let’s assume you’re traveling,” says Thaddesus Phillips, placing the audience as the sojourner. And he whisks us off. With co-creators Tatiana Mallarino and Patrick Nealy, and director Rebecca Wright, Phillips has concocted something special with 17 BORDER CROSSINGS.

Wes Haskell, Mary Tuomanen, and John Jarboe in COCK. Photo by Paola Nogueras

COCK (Theatre Exile): Spatial choreography reveals isolation, influence, and alliances.

Here’s the setup: A young man has lived with his male lover for a few years. During a spat he falls for a woman. Things have gotten complicated and he…

Sarah Knittel stars in SADIE, REMEMBERED

NICE AND FRESH October (SmokeyScout): New art pops up

Fresh from the inaugural weekend of NICE AND FRESH, I’m heartened to report that SmokeyScout Productions (founded by Josh McIlvain and Deborah Crocker in 2008) now offers something new and…

Geoff Sobelle gives an OBJECT LESSON. Philly Fringe Festival

[40.1] THE OBJECT LESSON (Geoff Sobelle): Fringe review

Object lesson: A demonstration of a principle using a material object, which forms the basis of the lesson and is available to be inspected. —Collins English Dictionary Geoff Sobelle encourages…

And Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens Blue Suede Fringe review

[27] AND TELL SAD STORIES OF THE DEATHS OF QUEENS (Blue Suede Productions): Fringe review

Two young guys who moved here from Tennessee in 2012 started their own theater company, which they named Blue Suede Productions as a tribute to Elvis. John-Thomas Appling and Chris…

Saint Joan, Betrayed, Mary Tuomanen, 2013 Philly Fringe review

[21] SAINT JOAN, BETRAYED (Aaron Cromie & Mary Tuomanen): 2013 Fringe review

This town knows Aaron Cromie, polymath of the arts—puppeteer, performer, director, designer of puppets, sets, and props; choreographer, musician, teacher, and writer. What else? I know there’s even more.  So…

Traveling Light by Lindsay Harris Friel Fringe review. Photo by Kyle Cassidy

[13.2] TRAVELING LIGHT (Liam’s Sofa Cushion Fortress): Fringe review

This play travels anything but light, but for aficionados—as I am—of talented and doomed Joe Orton or for those fascinated by Brian Epstein (the man who made the Beatles), the…

Holly's Dead Soldiers 2013 Fringe Festival

[19] HOLLY’S DEAD SOLDIERS (Bruce Walsh, Douglas Williams, Chris Davis): Fringe review

The play transpires in and around Bruce Walsh’s living room. (September 14 performances will take place at the home of Doug Williams.) Three collaborating playwrights share a sense of community that…

Antihero. Tribe of Fools. 2013 Philly Fringe review

[18] ANTIHERO (Tribe of Fools Theatre Company): Fringe review

Although founded ten years ago, Tribe of Fools Theatre Company really burst onto the scene with its inimitable Fringe ‘11 offering, Heavy Metal Dance Fag.  Like that show, this year’s production mixes…

The Society Jo Stromgren Kompani, Philly Fringe review

[7.1] THE SOCIETY (Jo Strømgren Kompani): Fringe review

This outrageous frolic with a ridiculous premise begins in the meeting room of a quiet, conservative French coffee society. Everything is ordered and in its place. But when—horrors!—a used tea bag…

Ajax, the madness. Atis Theater. Philadelphia Fringe review.

[2.2] AJAX, THE MADNESS (Attis Theatre): Fringe review

To call this play My Big Fat Greek Endurance Test would be flippant, but it wouldn’t be far off the mark. Certainly AJAX, THE MADNESS tests the artists’ stamina and…

Avenue Q Mazeppa review

AVENUE Q (Mazeppa): A puppet oasis in the summer heat

Rob Henry and Brian Seaman, founders of Mazeppa Productions, the newest resident musical theater company in Philadelphia, offer an oasis of entertainment in the Sahara of theater’s summer down-time with…

Ed Swidey as Uncle Tom and Langston Darby as Master Hardy in UNCLE TOM'S CABIN

Afterthoughts on UNCLE TOM’S CABIN: AN UNFORTUNATE HISTORY (EgoPo)

EgoPo’s show closes at Plays & Players in Philadelphia tonight. I finally got to see it at the end of the run. The finale of their American Vaudeville Festival, UNCLE…

The Gambling Room Hella Fresh Theater

THE GAMBLING ROOM (Hella Fresh Theater): An ambitious conundrum

Hella Fresh is staging THE GAMBLING ROOM at Papermill Theater in Kensington. One of several little companies working in small neighborhood venues, Hella Fresh is contributing to the flowering of…

Michael Hollinger Theatre Exile

Studio X-hibition at Studio X

On May 6 this reviewer took in the second of three play readings in Theatre Exile’s New Play Development Series. On tap was FLESH, celebrated local playwright Michael Hollinger’s work-in-progress….

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RED-EYE to HAVRE de GRACE (Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental): 2012 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival

An early version of this show lit up the Live Arts Festival in ’05, and I couldn’t wait to see the latest manifestation of the collaboration between Thaddeus Phillips’ Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental and Wilhelm Bros. music. The production has grown up over the intervening years. It’s bigger, wider, and deeper, and just as amazing and magical.

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RED-EYE to HAVRE de GRACE (Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental): 2005 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival Workshop production

In Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental’s production, three actors and a pianist tell the story of the last three months of Edgar Allen Poe’s life as he pursues his phantoms and vice versa in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and on midnight trains.