Reviews

Photo by Luis Fernando Rodriguez

MISSED CONNECTIONS & OTHER CURIOSITIES (Simpatico): A Craigslist cabaret

There’s a wonderful movement these days in the Philadelphia theater world to give voice to our younger generation. Dwindling arts funding, as well as the Fringe’s ineffectiveness as a vehicle…

Plato's Porno Cave: The Trial, Little Berlin, Marshall James Kavanaugh and Augustus Depenbrock

Plato’s Porno Cave: The Trial (Little Berlin): Surrealist party, imagery orgy

To the left of the pyramid was a little shanty you could enter and perform a primal scream. A glass window on either side faced in on a small chamber with an apple and, if you hit the right decibel with your scream, the apple would explode. The mechanism for blowing up the apple failed pretty quickly (it worked a few times before the forces of chaos seeped into the mechanism), but that didn’t stop the crowd going in and screaming periodically while the Eye played master of ceremonies from his pyramid throne.

Annie Henk, Jered McLenigan, David Bardeem in RITU COMES HOME. Photo by Kathryn Raines

RITU COMES HOME (InterAct): Two gay men who practice Safe Charity become parents

Jason (David Bardeen) and Brendan (Jered McLenigan) ease the paucity of Ritu’s (Rebecca Khalil) existence by sending monthly checks through an aid organization. The last thing in the world they’d ever expect would be for their charity case to show up in their living room.

Photo by Ashley LaBonde.

WICCANS IN THE HOOD / TRADING RACES (Brainspunk): Let’s talk about race, baby

Brainspunk Theater keeps the conversation on race going with a pair of one-acts by Kansas City writer Michelle T. Johnson, WICCANS IN THE HOOD and TRADING RACES: FROM RODNEY KING TO PAULA DEEN.

Plays&PlayersSDRRPhotoCreditAndrewCowles

SEX, DRUGS, ROCK & ROLL (Plays & Players): 60-second review

In SEX, DRUGS, ROCK & ROLL, Eric Bogasian’s revolving cast of characters—an aging rock star, a homeless bottle man, an 80s yuppie, and a handful of others—have little in common except their masculine hedonism.

Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing at The Wilma

THE REAL THING (The Wilma): Exquisite dialogue shines through spotty production

Tom’s Stoppard’s dramedy THE REAL THING is set on a constantly evolving stage transforming into different locations in the UK during the early 1980s. Sky-high walls disappear, doors emerge out of nowhere, and scenes fluidly fold into the next with the help of nimble cast and crewmembers. First off, a man sits building a house of cards in a perfectly done up living room, while awaiting his wife’s return. The card house collapses with her sudden entrance, as does their marriage when he confronts her with the passport she left behind – on her trip out of the country. The whole scene feels rather put on, and the fake English accents don’t help.

Promotional image for New City Stage Company’s WHAT HAPPENS IN THE WHITE HOUSE, STAYS IN THE WHITE HOUSE by Voices for a New City Ensemble (Photo credit: Courtesy of New City Stage Company)

WHAT HAPPENS IN THE WHITE HOUSE, STAYS IN THE WHITE HOUSE (New City): A New Perspective on First Families

New City Stage Company’s West Wing Festival on presidential politics concludes with a satirical take on the past and future occupants of the White House. Imaginative, amusing, and cynical, it considers how their private relationships and distinctive personalities might have impacted our history and could influence world affairs.

Ian Merrill Peakes, Mary Martello, and Paul L. Nolan in Arden Theatre Company’s Incorruptible by Michael Hollinger. Photo by Mark Garvin

INCORRUPTIBLE (Arden): Laughter in the monastery

The set of Michael Hollinger’s witty INCORRUPTIBLE looks like it has been there for hundreds of years, transporting one back to the days of monks and minstrels. At the Abbey…

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THE SCREWTAPE LETTTERS (Lantern): 60-second review

The Lantern Theater Company’s remount of THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS by C.S. Lewis is a sizzling show from hell. Kathryn Osenlund’s 60-second review

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CHAPTER TWO (Bucks County Playhouse): 60-second review

Directed by Marsha Mason, the actress in the original film adaptation, Neil Simon’s CHAPTER TWO is a romantic comedy/drama in the spirit of the Hotel Suite.

Steve Pacek and Adam Altmanin THE 39 STEPS. Photo by Matthew J. Photography

THE 39 STEPS (Theatre Horizon): Thriller? I hardly know her!

Plot-wise, 39 STEPS stays quite true to the original film (often down to the dialogue), with a few other Hitchcock references thrown in for good measure. The difference? This play is the height of camp.

Photo credit Kate Raines.

COMMUNITAS (Almanac): The Contortionist and the Dancer

The action in COMMUNITAS could be best described as four people taking turns carrying one another around a space, then falling off, then swapping who carries whom. In a way, it is structured around a continual exploration of ways to make two or more people into one. Balance is challenged not by standing on a tight rope, but by joining two bodies at a single point and leaning precipitously apart; disassemble and repeat as necessary.

The Company. Photo by Mark Garvin.

HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING (Walnut Street Theatre): 60-Second review

J. Pierrepoint Finch (Jeremy Morse) is a determined window washer with a handbook “How to Succeed in Business” and a dream to navigate the corporate maze. Step one: apply for the job at a major corporation.

(Left to right) Adam Hoyak, Nicholas Park, Billy Kametz, Michael Linden, and Robert Hager in 11th Hour’s ALTAR BOYZ (Photo credit: John Flak)

ALTAR BOYZ (11th Hour): Raising the Praise!

The fast-paced spoof about a boy band saving the souls of an audience of sinners on the last stop of their “Raise the Praise” tour is filled with witty references to the Bible, the Passion of Christ, and the Catholic liturgy. The Boyz—aptly named Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan, and Abraham–proselytize to prospective believers in real time through their songs, employing post-modern technology, current slang, and choreographed moves that gently skewer such popular acts as the Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync.

Anna Zaida Szapiro and Felicia Leicht in TIGERS BE STILL. Photo by Johanna Austin/AustinArt.org.

TIGERS BE STILL (Azuka): 60-second review

Despite the bleak premise, laughter and jokes run throughout Azuka Theatre’s TIGERS BE STILL. This dark comedy looks at the things people do to cope with tragedy, and finds the humor in these strange displays.

Justin Rose is featured in BRAT’s ALWAYS COMING SOON: THE FUTURE (Photo credit: Plate 3 Photography)

ALWAYS COMING SOON: THE FUTURE (BRAT Productions):  Alternative Cabaret with a Timely Message

Vaudeville, bouffon, and circus meet progressive rock in BRAT Productions’ ensemble-devised cabaret performance ALWAYS COMING SOON: THE FUTURE. It’s a compelling combination that entertains, mocks, and provokes through BRAT’s signature high-energy music, intriguing visual design, and dynamic physical theater which begins the moment you enter the venue as aggressive carnival buskers hawk popcorn, drinks, and breaths of fresh air to the incoming audience.

Ahren Potratz and Allen Radway in Simpatico Theatre Project's production of IN A DARK DARK HOUSE by Neil LaBute. Photo credit: by Daniel Kontz.

IN A DARK DARK HOUSE (Simpatico Theatre Project): Oh! Neil LaBute is not just a sadistic prig!

At the opening night performance of LaBute’s IN A DARK DARK HOUSE I had what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity: Suddenly an entire oeuvre littered with cruel antihero bastards made sense.

Pennsylvania Ballet Principal Dancers Julie Diana and Zachary Hench in After the Rain | Photo: Alexander Iziliaev

DIRECTOR’S CHOICE (PA Ballet): Julie Diana’s luminous pas d’adieu

Roy Kaiser’s ‘Director’s Choice program proved to be one of the most artistically rich mixed bills PB has done and during their 50th anniversary season. , It featured the arrestingly intimate pas de deux between retiring dancer Julie Diana and real-life husband Zachary Hench.

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RED-EYE TO HAVRE DE GRACE (Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental): New York Theatre Workshop sees a reshaped Philly Fringe hit

I have taken the train up from Philadelphia to the New York Theatre Workshop to see how RED-EYE to HAVRE de GRACE has fared since I last saw it. I had discovered it in the Philadelphia Live Arts workshop production in 2005. Between that iteration and the world premiere at Philadelphia Fringe Festival in 2012, an evolutionary process took place.

David M. Lutken stars as Woody Guthrie in WOODY SEZ at People’s Light & Theatre Company (Photo credit: Mark Garvin)

WOODY SEZ (People’s Light & Theatre Company): A Down-Home Musical Revue on the Life of Woody Guthrie

A touring revue on American singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie (1912-67), WOODY SEZ—on the road for seven years and now on stage at People’s Light & Theatre Company in Malvern—is an eminently likeable concert biography for fans of the respected folk musician and activist for the disenfranchised. Featuring 27 of Guthrie’s most famous songs (including his populist American anthem “This Land Is Your Land”) interspersed with snippets of his life story and folk wisdom, the show traces the highlights and low points of his times, [. . .]