Reviews

Seth Reichgott and Earnest L. Phillips in ADDRESS UNKNOWN.

ADDRESS UNKNOWN (Meadowbrook Productions): Letters from the edge of history

Reading history is like watching a familiar play: the fascinating thing is that the characters don’t know what’s going to happen. But sometimes you come across a work of fiction written on the cusp of great historical events imbued with a clear sighted vision of how the epoch is unfolding. Adapted by Frank Dunlop from a 1938 novella by Kathrine Kressman Taylor, ADDRESS UNKNOWN is one such work.

Charlie DelMarcelle. Photo by matthewjphoto.com

I AM MY OWN WIFE (Theatre Horizon): A story of perserverance

In Berlin in the wake of German reunification, American John Marks writes to his friend “Doug Wright” (I AM MY OWN WIFE’s playwright) about the eccentric Charlotte. Having “grown up gay in the Bible Belt”, Wright is fascinated by the transgender Berliner and spends grant money and savings to pay her a series of visits, hoping to turn his interviews into a play.

As related in act one of this short two-act piece, Charlotte’s tale fascinates Wright (and the Theatre Horizon audience).

Dan Kern and Jered McLenigan star in THE WOMAN IN BLACK at Act II Playhouse. Photo by Mark Garvin.

THE WOMAN IN BLACK: A GHOST PLAY (Act II): 60-second review

THE WOMAN IN BLACK: A GHOST PLAY is a cleverly constructed stage production by Stephen Mallatratt based on a novel by Susan Hill. It is a story within a story with Arthur Kipps (Dan Kern) seeking the assistance of an actor (Jered McLenigan) to tell his terrifying and sorrowful tale he’s compiled into a five hour manuscript. The actor encourages Kipps to tell the story through acting; the actor playing the role of Kipps and Kipps playing the roles of the people he encountered during his experiences.

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MAKESHIFT (Murmuration Theater): 60-second review

Strange games are afoot upstairs at Plays and Players. Not light or fun games, either—we’re talking full-on Don’t-talk-about-our-son-Martha! games here. Murmuration Theater’s new play MAKESHIFT throws us right into the middle of two different stories, and figures we’re smart enough to figure out what’s going on. The show doesn’t dole out much information, and when it does, it’s timed for maximum effect. Once you get enough to realize the show’s central conceit (which is quite nice, and unfolds so organically that I’d hate to spoil it), the earlier scenes come into better focus and make more sense.

Photo by Yi Zhao

THE GARDEN (Nichole Canuso Dance Company): Offer your hand…

Six audience members isn’t an empty house; that’s the full load for Nichole Canuso Dance Company’s THE GARDEN. The basement below us is an expansive concrete stretch, a network of small rooms and squared pillars, and we’re sent down into a smallish room scattered with chairs. We’re invited to sit wherever we like.

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RFK (New City Stage): An American tragedy

Director Ginger Dayle and sound and video designer Ren Manley intersperse audio and visuals from the 1960s in New City Stage Company’s RFK, complementing Widdall’s powerful performance with a great soundtrack and contextualizing video clips. Following pre-show newsreels from JFK’s assassination, the play begins in 1964—eight months after the fateful day in Dallas.

U.R. as Flip LeVay and Julianna Zinkel as Kimber in Arden Theatre Company’s production of Stick Fly. Photo by Mark Garvin.

STICK FLY (Arden): An inventive, relentlessly funny look at race and class

The immaculate Martha’s Vineyard home of the African American LeVay family is the set for Lydia R. Diamond’s STICK FLY at Arden Theatre Company. Plush sofas and pristine white cabinetry are the trappings around which the evening’s drama unfolds. The audience has a window into the kitchen, living room and porch where at times multiples scenes take place at complementary intervals; sometimes echoing their counterparts in the next room. The characters in the play are a complex set, all with different but overlapping backgrounds—some more than they realize.

Emily L. Gibson and Steve Lippe in MAKING the WORLD a BETTER PLACE through MURALS.

NICE AND FRESH November (SmokeyScout): Get punched in the face by art at SmokeyScout Productions’ NICE AND FRESH

SmokeyScout is named after artistic director Josh McIlvain’s cats: Smokey and Scout. The program of the November NICE AND FRESH thanks them, along with Moving Arts of Mount Airy (MAMA), the intimate,…

Russ Widdall as RFK.

Revisiting New City Stage Company’s RFK

Since my original review of New City Stage Company’s stellar production of RFK in October 2012 (reprinted below), the show was featured in Washington, DC’s Capital Fringe in July 2013,…

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THE JERSEY DEVIL (Berserker Residents): 60-second review

The three troupe members of the FringeArts-famous Berserker Residents will do pretty much anything to get a good laugh out of the audience. Their recently re-installed THE JERSEY DEVIL (first…

Josh Carpenter (as Marlow), Sonja Field (as Kate Hardcastle) in SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER. Photo by Alexander Burns.

SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER (Quintessence): A contemporary 18th-century comedy

SHE STOOPS is an 18th-century comedy of manners and mistaken identities by Oliver Goldsmith. It is considered by many to be the most enduring of 18th-century plays (name another you’ve…

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…

Marcus Plays and Players review photo

MARCUS; OR THE SECRET OF SWEET (Plays & Players): 60-second review

Is life sweet when you live in the Louisiana Bayou before an unprecedented storm hits?  For Marcus (Eric L. Fleming), life at 16 years of age is not only sweet, but…

Photo by Paola Nogueras. Theatre Exile Cock Review

COCK (Theatre Exile): A Provocative Fight for Love and Identity

Finding love and self-knowledge beyond the fixed categories of sexual identity (gay, straight, or bi) is the central theme of Michael Bartlett’s COCK, now in its Philadelphia premiere at Theatre…

Kevin Meehan.Photo credit: Kathryn Raines

WE ARE PROUD TO PRESENT (InterAct): Are You Black Enough?

Drury’s funny, traumatic, inventive and timely play will stab at you, personally, at least once. She asks whether it is important that a story be told, or if it is more important that it be told in a certain way. She uses the events in Namibia to illustrate the cracks in our own culture, the divides caused by racial issues even among a group of people who would probably all vote for the same candidate..

Hedgerow Macbeth review

MACBETH (Hedgrow): An ambitious and effective take on the Scottish play

Director Dan Hodge does not mind imposing his vision upon a text. His bold decision to combine the Ariel and Miranda characters proved surprisingly effective.in last season’s The Tempest at…

The “Droogs” at the Milkbar (l to r: Katie Gould, Shamus Hunter McCarty, Kevin Rodden, and Alan Holmes as Alex) in Luna Theater Company’s A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (Photo credit: Aaron J. Oster)

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (Luna): Commedia dell’arte meets post-modern morality play

Luna Theater Company’s interpretation of Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel is a unique marriage of the British author’s futuristic stylizations with disturbing a cappella songs with the historic conventions of masking and stock movement inspired by Italian commedia dell’arte. It’s a perfect match to tell the cutting-edge morality tale of teen ultra-violence and reform.

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COURTLY LUST: A KING ARTHUR BURLESQUE (GDP/Walking Fish): 60-second review

A tongue-in-cheek recounting of some of the sexier moments of King Arthur’s rule, COURTLY LUST attempts to do it all—just like the knights of old. Comedy, kink, and wit combine,…

Francesca Piccioni as Christina in HANNAH. Photo by @dopez.

HANNAH (Hella Fresh): The glories of the sober mind

In response to a story I wrote about LSD, a college creative writing professor told me that it’s never a good idea to give characters drugs, because if they’re high,…

pictured: Cait O'Driscoll, photo credit: Erin Pitts

SLASHER (Figment): An improv horror

SLASHER is a one hour improv play in the vein of a B-movie horror. There’s an unnecessarily precautious “splash area” where the audience may be stained with stray stage blood. An audience member’s spin of a wheel dictates the setting and holiday (a school on Easter weekend, on opening night). If this sounds like a description of the kind of show you like to see, you’ll probably like SLASHER.