Alison Roberts

Touchtones

TOUCHTONES (Arden): This must be a bad connection

Naughty and nice collide in TOUCHTONES, a musical fantasy in world premiere at the Arden.

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STRAIGHT WHITE MEN (InterAct): Rattling cages…

Young Jean Lee’s brave societal exploration brings out the issues of privilege among, you guessed it—straight white men.

U.R. as Sterling and Johnnie Hobbs, Jr. as Memphis in Arden Theatre Company’s production of Two Trains Running. Photo by Mark Garvin.

TWO TRAINS RUNNING (Arden): 1969, Pittsburgh

August Wilson is a really good playwright. That’s hardly a bold critical statement, but it’s one confirmed by this vivid production at Arden Theatre Company.

Photo by Matthew J. Photography

LOBBY HERO (Theatre Horizon): A web of unintended consequences

Kenneth Lonergan’s new play explores the many levels of trust.

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FUNNYMAN (Arden): Comedy on the brink of tragedy

A new play by Bruce Graham considers the sadness that often underlies comedy and the need to adapt to changing styles and the struggles of life.

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2014/15 Critics’ Awards: The best in Philadelphia theater

Local theater writers vote for their favorites in twelve categories!

Liz (Kate Czajkowski) and Charlie (Scott Greer) in Theatre Exile's THE WHALE by Samuel D. Hunter. Photo credit: Paola Nogueras.

THE WHALE (Theatre Exile): Intelligence and transformation moving under the surface

Not many plays have this kind of unmistakable resonance. When you encounter such a play, you know it. With works of consequence you can feel the pull of intelligence and transformation moving under the surface.

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Becoming THE WHALE: Scott Greer puts on pounds for Theatre Exile show [photo essay]

For THE WHALE, Scott Greer takes an hour putting on his 50 pound costume. The photo essay looks at the elaborate costuming process.

Jennifer Childs and Tony Lawton star as Celia and Toby Teasdale in 1812 Productions’ INTIMATE EXCHANGES (Photo credit: Mark Garvin)

Intimate Exchanges (1812 Productions): Fringe Review 1.2

What makes film different from theater is that film is fixed forever, performances and lines repeating endlessly year after year, while theater has the ability to surprise us. And what makes theater different from life is that theater is scripted and life is random, unexpected, not planned out ahead of time. And what makes Philadelphia’s FringeArts Festival fun is that it delights in performances that confound expectations.

Jennifer Childs as Sylvie Bell and Tony Lawton as Lionel Hepplewick in 1812’s INTIMATE EXCHANGES (Photo credit: Mark Garvin)

INTIMATE EXCHANGES (1812 Productions): Fringe Review 1.1

Alan Ayckbourn’s inventive rom-com about failing and budding mid-life relationships in suburban London is that the play (or more accurately, the first volume of the playwright’s original two-volume work that is performed here) offers sixteen plot options and eight different endings. And for the first time in its production history, 1812 shines the spotlight on random members of the audience to decide spontaneously which path the characters should take as they reach a series of crossroads in their lives.

Alex Keiper and William Zielinski in DOWN PAST PASSYUNK. Photo by Kathryn Raines.

DOWN PAST PASSYUNK (InterAct): Theater ‘wit’ a taste of South Philly

I once heard then-governor Ed Rendell give some cheesesteak advice: for the real deal don’t go to one of the big name line-around-the-block places, go to a food truck or your local deli and get one made-to-order. I was thinking about this truism and our prevailing infatuation with authenticity as I watched A. Zell Williams’s world premiere production of DOWN PAST PASSYUNK at InterAct Theatre.

Photo by Paola Nogueras.

TRUE WEST (Theatre Exile): Sibling rivalry and the American dream

Sibling rivalry, conflicting personalities, and antithetical lifestyles regress to anti-social antics, primal rage, and role reversal in TRUE WEST, Sam Shepard’s dark comedy about two adult brothers, estranged for five…