Reviews

Gina Martino (Shelly) and Luke Moyer (Bradley) in Iron Age Theatre’s BURIED CHILD (Photo credit: Randall Wise)

BURIED CHILD (Iron Age): Decay and Dysfunction in America’s Heartland

From the moment you arrive, Iron Age Theatre’s production of Sam Shepard’s BURIED CHILD, directed and designed by John Doyle and Randall Wise, thrusts you into a deeply disturbing world of grime, decay, and depression. Mounds of barren dirt, wood chips, and dried-out stalks surround and invade a tumbledown farmhouse with a rusted old mailbox that hasn’t seen a delivery in years. Inside, a filthy stained sofa with torn-up upholstery and torn-out stuffing is held together by black duct tape, as huge gaps between the rough-hewn wall slats let in the pouring rain and dreary darkness of a relentless storm.

Benjamin Lloyd (on floor), Bruce Graham, David Edwards, Carl Wallnau, and George Deihl (back) in Bristol Riverside Theatre’s LAUGHTER ON THE 23rd FLOOR (Photo Credit: BRT Staff)

LAUGHTER ON THE 23rd FLOOR (Bristol Riverside Theater): The Humor and Hysteria of 1953

Neil Simon’s autobiographical comedy, LAUGHTER ON THE 23rd FLOOR, offers an intimate, insightful, and uproarious glimpse into his experiences as a junior writer for Your Show of Show—the influential TV program that ran on NBC from 1950-54, and was the first to incorporate sitcom sketches into the traditional variety-show format.

Walnut Street Theatre, Arsenic and Old Lace, Damon Bonetti and Jennie Eisenhower

ARSENIC AND OLD LACE (Walnut Street Theatre): Macabre Madcap Comedy Classic

The historic Walnut Street Theatre celebrates two milestones with its mainstage presentation of ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, written by New York playwright Joseph Kesselring in 1939: the play’s 75th anniversary and its own 205th landmark season. Directed by Charles Abbott, the Walnut Street’s crackerjack production (in association with Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, PA) whips up the perfect concoction of murder, mayhem, and misplaced “mercy,” topped with a large dollop of macabre madness, in this delectable recipe for hilarity.

Note to Self, Figment Theater.

NOTE TO SELF (Figment Theater): Improv at Its Finest, with a Twist.

Upon entry into the theater space, I was directed to a setup off to the side with slips of paper and pens. Little placards told us to write a NOTE TO SELF and drop it in the metal can, examples offered including “get donuts for the office.” I had received the inside scoop from one of the other theatergoers that they’ll be used as a formative part of the show. As NOTE TO SELF is improv comedy, I didn’t want mine to be too mundane to work with so I chose a simple, sadly relevant, yet ripe for humor note: stop eating in bed. The conversation and jokes with strangers, all ruminating on what their contribution would be, set a fun, friendly and upbeat tone for the performance.

Rosario Toledo performs Vengo as part of the Philadelphia Flamenco Festival.

Passion and Art in the Philadelphia Flamenco Festival

What better way to welcome the coming spring than with flamenco? Flamenco, which means “flame-colored,” is a genre of Spanish folk dance and music traditionally characterized by sensual choreography and bold, complex guitar rhythms. In Philadelphia, dance company Pasión y Arte is bringing the spirit of modern flamenco to the Philadelphia Flamenco Festival, which runs from March 1st through March 16th.

DANCING AT LUGHNASA (Curio): Casting Disaster

The summer of 1998, I permanently moved out of my mother’s house. (My mother moved down to Nashville abruptly and without me.) So I traveled to Ireland and saw Brian…

Jo Mei and Ruibo Qian in a production of You for Me for You. Photo by Scott Suchman, courtesy of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.

Asian Arts Initiative’s THE WAY HOME continues with You for Me for You

The National Asian American Theater Festival and Conference is coming to Philadelphia this October, and Philadelphia’s Asian Arts Initiative and InterAct Theatre laying the groundwork with a reading series of new plays this Spring. Directed by visiting artist Rick Shiomi, founder of Minneapolis-based Mu Performing Arts, “The Way Home” features contemporary works exploring what “home” means to Asian Americans.

L-R Drucie McDaniel and Maureen Torsney-Weir. Photo by Johanna Austin.

SKIN AND BONE (Azuka Theatre): SoGoth Reinvented

In a culture that places heavier value on test scores than on the individual capacity for critical thought, you’re taught to associate. It doesn’t much matter if you’ve read the…

(clockwise from left) Julianna Zinkel, Clare Mahoney, Jessica Bedford, and Becky Baumwoll in PRIDE & PREJUDICE at People’s Light & Theatre Company (Photo credit: Mark Garvin)

PRIDE & PREJUDICE (People’s Light & Theatre Company): Structure and Snobbery in Regency England

PRIDE & PREJUDICE, Jane Austen’s classic tale of class, courtship, and decorum in 19th-century England, celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2013. People’s Light & Theatre Company continues the celebration with…

Photo by Garrett Matthews

HYBERNATE (Gunnar Montana): 60 Second Review

Gunnar Montana presents a jaw-dropping winter wonderland that is part art installation, part theatrical dance performances in HYBERNATE. After his sold-out BASEMENT (see Phindie’s review here) at the 2013 FringeArts…

HINCKLEY (New City Stage): Life, Death, Celebrity

“Anything’s possible in a world where media rules all.” In 1981, John W. Hinckley Jr. fired into president Ronald Reagan’s entourage, hitting four men, including the president. Reagan’s press secretary…

cmtheader

CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION (Theatre Horizon): All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women…

Life doesn’t imitate art as much as combine with it as Baker’s play, and Matthew Decker’s production of it for Theatre Horizon, sneaks up on you and moves you.

Nonhlanhla Kheswa, Ivanno Jeremiah

THE SUIT (Prince): Balancing cruelty and kindness in pre-apartheid South Africa

If Philadelphia is a tightly wound city wearing a permanent scowl, Sophiatown is tightly wound with a broad smile. Sophiatown was a cultural hub for black South Africans until 1954,…

Mark Knight, Rob Hargraves, Kirsten Quinn, and Renee Richman-Weisband. Photo credit: Evan Rosen.

ACCOMPLICE (Isis): A Comic Twist on the British Whodunit

The nature of Rupert Holmes’s ACCOMPLICE—a tongue-in-cheek thriller/sex farce/self- referencing spoof of the theater—is to surprise the audience with completely unexpected twists and turns in each scene of its two…

HOTEL SUITE (Act II Playhouse): A 60-Second Review

HOTEL SUITE highlights the best of Neil Simon’s successful play-turned-movie series including PLAZA, CALIFORNIA, and LONDON SUITES. HOTEL SUITE is a fun, in-your-face, comical view of real life for two…

THE LADY FROM THE SEA (Egopo): Bare production showcases Ibsen’s mental gymnastics

Henrik Ibsen’s name is so thoroughly canonized in theater history that it’s easy to forget just how progressive the man was as a playwright. Works like A DOLL’S HOUSE are rightly granted…

Jered McLenigan as Marc Antony (Photo courtesy of Mark Garvin)

JULIUS CAESAR (Lantern): Political persuasion in feudal Japan

If William Shakespeare was alive today he’d be a …. well, he’d probably be a poet and playwright, but he’d also make a damn good political speechwriter. The crux of his JULIUS CAESAR, now in an accessible production by Lantern Theater Company, comes in a speech following the title character’s assassination.

TROUSERS (Inis Nua): The Proof Is in the Pants

In keeping with their native tradition of storytelling, Irish playwrights Paul Meade and David Parnell weave an engaging tale of two estranged men who reconnect and revisit their shared youth…

Susan Giddings (Photo: Johanna Austin)

ONDINE (Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium): At sea with emotional hyperbole

Talented and celebrated director Aaron Cromie teams up with the idiosyncratic Idopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium to tackle French impressionist Jean Giraudoux at the Walnut Street Theatre Studio 5. The play, ONDINE,…

Andrew Carroll, Ama Bollinger, Jerry Puma, and Tina Brock (Photo: Johanna Austin)

ONDINE (Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium): Nature versus Human Nature

When Hans, a handsome but not-so-smart knight-errant of Wittenstein, meets the unbridled naiad Ondine at a fisherman’s cottage in the woods, they fall recklessly in love and marry—a union that…