Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Lieutenant of Inishmore: 04/29/2006

Full Disclosure: I’m not a fan of Irish drama. Sean O'Casey, JM Synge, Lady Gregory – I just don’t get the appeal. To me it’s like watching a soap opera about Martians. And then there’s the contemporary playwright, Martin McDonagh, whose play The Pillowman I liked specifically because it was his least Irish. The Lieutenant of Inishmore has just moved to Broadway after a sold-out and well-reviewed production Off-Broadway by the Atlantic Theater Company and yet again I just don’t get it. There is only so long I can laugh at the idiocy of stupid people, or crazy people, or terrorists. From scene one the acting level is set at 11 (on a scale of one to ten) and only goes up from there; any hope of subtlety is surely lost. I will give the show credit for having some amazing stage effects – all involving gunshots and blood – the likes of which are usually reserved for film, but otherwise The Lieutenant of Inishmore seems to be all about shock value and a gross-out factor which compared to film it just can’t feckin' compete.

For Info:

Friday, April 28, 2006

Letting Go of God: 04/28/2006

Julia Sweeney’s solo show, Letting Go of God, is the story of her quest for a belief system when religion looses its satisfaction. Beginning with a knock on her door by two Mormons going door-to-door and continuing through Bible study class, Eastern Beliefs and even Deepak Chopra, her story is very funny and ultimately deeply moving. With her Catholic upbringing, with its lack of emphasis on actually reading the Bible, Sweeney is truly shocked how vastly different the literal bible is from what she was taught to believe about Christianity. But, while the show is entertaining, it seems to be slightly over-written (perhaps it would be a better book) and because of this Sweeney doesn’t seem very natural telling her own story. And at two hours and twenty minutes it could use a little editing.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Devil Land: 04/24/2006

Horror on stage is really difficult to pull off. The true descendant of the French Theatre du Grand Guignol is the horror film. On stage it takes a strong director creating the right mood with the help of a committed cast. The Immediate Theater Company’s production of Desi Moreno-Penson’s Devil Land comes very close to getting it right. Devil Land is about the kidnapping of a young girl from the Bronx by her building’s superintendent and his psycho-religious wife. Originally intending the three to live together as a family and claming to save the little girl from her sinful mother, eventually the wife’s insanity completely takes over, deciding that the child has to be killed. The girl, Destiny (wonderfully played by an adult, Paula Ehrenberg), spends her time captive in the buildings boiler room (great set by Ryan Elliot Kravetz ) reading from a Dr. Seuss book and having dreamlike conversations with the Grinch, whom she believes is living in the boiler. Form me these fantasy elements were the least successful part of an overall tense and disturbing evening. As Destiny’s captors, Desi Moreno-Penson and Miguel Sierra are outstanding.

For info:

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Festen: 04/08/2006

Festen is the worst thing I’ve seen in a long time. I didn’t see it in London nor have I seen the Danish film on which it’s based – but I have the feeling something's been lost in the double translation. It’s dad’s 60th birthday and a deep, dark secret is going to be revealed by one of his children at his party. Yawn. The production reminded me of a college Directing Project: multiple scenes taking place in the same space, obvious sound effects, odd blocking. As the three siblings, Michael Hayden, Jeremy Sisto and Julianna Margulies are fine and Larry Bryggman is doing the best he can as the father. And then there’s Ali MacGraw who is completely incapable of naturally delivering any line – she makes mannequins look exciting. Most disturbing of all is the racism directed towards Margulies’ character’s black boyfriend that has almost the entire cast chiming in. Broadway is always lamenting the small numbers of black audiences. Who would want to shell out $95 to listen to poor Keith Davis being called a monkey? May Festen not be around long enough to find out.

For Info: Google it yourself!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Landscape of the Body: 03/05/2006

John Guare’s Landscape of the Body is a wild and wonderful fever dream of a play, with songs. It deals with finding meaning in the randomness and chance of life via many of life’s more ugly sides - murder, pornography, drugs, and crime. Michael Greif’s production is excellent at the center of which are it’s two leading ladies - Lili Taylor and Sherie Rene Scott, reprising roles they first played in Williamstown last summer. Taylor is touching as Betty, who steps into the life of her recently deceased sister, Rosalie, played by an effervescent Scott. Jonathan Fried in a small role as a far-away admirer of Betty’s is terrific. But it’s John Guare’s language, conjuring up and mixture of hope and hopelessness that is the true star of the evening.

For Info:

Monday, April 03, 2006


The 2006 Lucille Lortel Award Nominations have been announced...

Outstanding Play:

The Lieutenant of Inishmore
By Martin McDonagh
Producer: Atlantic Theater Company

The Paris Letter
By Jon Robin Baitz
Producer: Roundabout Theatre Company

Red Light Winter
By Adam Rapp
Producer: Scott Rudin/Paramount Pictures, Robyn Goodman, Roger Berlind, and Stuart Thompson

The Ruby Sunrise
By Rinne Groff
Producer: The Public Theater

Outstanding Musical:

Bernarda Alba
Words & Music by Michael John LaChiusa
Producer: Lincoln Center Theater

Grey Gardens
Book by Doug Wright, Music by Scott Frankel, Lyrics by Michael Korie
Producer: Playwrights Horizons

See What I Wanna See
Words & Music by Michael John LaChiusa
Producer: The Public Theater

The Seven
By Will Power
Producer: New York Theatre Workshop

Outstanding Revival:

Abigail’s Party
By Mike Leigh
Producer: The New Group

Celebration and The Room
By Harold Pinter
Producer: Atlantic Theater Company

Funnyhouse of a Negro
By Adrienne Kennedy
Producer: The Classical Theater of Harlem

Mrs. Warren’s Profession
By George Bernard Shaw
Producer: Irish Repertory Theatre

The Trip to Bountiful
By Horton Foote
Producer: Signature Theatre Company

Outstanding Director:

Billie Allen, Funnyhouse of a Negro
Scott Elliott, Abigail’s Party
Scott Ellis, The Little Dog Laughed
Wilson Milam, The Lieutenant of Inishmore
Harris Yulin, The Trip to Bountiful

Outstanding Choreographer:

Michael Berresse, [title of show]
Graciela Daniele, Bernarda Alba
Bill T. Jones, The Seven

Outstanding Lead Actor:

Christopher Denham, Red Light Winter
Conor Donovan, Privilege
John Glover, The Paris Letter
Michael Stuhlbarg, Measure for Pleasure
David Wilmot, The Lieutenant of Inishmore

Outstanding Lead Actress:

Jennifer Jason Leigh, Abigail’s Party
S. Epatha Merkerson, Birdie Blue
Lois Smith, The Trip to Bountiful
Julie White, The Little Dog Laughed
Dianne Wiest, Third

Outstanding Featured Actor:

Charles Durning, Third
Domhnall Gleeson, The Lieutenant of Inishmore
Darren Goldstein, Abigail’s Party
Logan Marshall-Green, Dog Sees God
David Pittu, Celebration and The Room

Outstanding Featured Actress:

Meghan Andrews, The Trip to Bountiful
Helena Carroll, Philadelphia, Here I Come!
Lisa Emery, Abigail’s Party
Hallie Foote, The Trip to Bountiful
Mary Louise Wilson, Grey Gardens

Outstanding Scenic Design:

Beowulf Boritt, The Other Side
David Korins, Swimming in the Shallows
Eugene Lee, The Ruby Sunrise
Derek McLane, Abigail’s Party
Allen Moyer, Grey Gardens

Outstanding Costume Design:

Eric Becker, Abigail’s Party
William Ivey Long, Grey Gardens
Deborah Newhall, The Ruby Sunrise
Martin Pakledinaz, The Trip to Bountiful
Anita Yavich, The Wooden Breeks

Outstanding Lighting Design:

Aaron Black, Funnyhouse of a Negro
Jane Cox, Apparition
John McKernon, The Trip to Bountiful
Stpehen Strawbridge, Bernarda Alba
David Weiner, The Seven

Outstanding Sound Design:

Scott Killian, A Picasso
Brian Ronan, Grey Gardens
Ken Travis, Abigail’s Party
Darron L. West, Apparition
Darron L. West, The Seven

Four special awards will also be presented:

Lifetime Achievement Award

Playwrights’ Sidewalk Inductee

Edith Oliver Award for Sustained Excellence

Outstanding Body of Work

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Stuff Happens: 04/02/2006

David Hare’s Stuff Happens has finally come to New York. It is a self described “history play, which happens to center on resent history.” And it really is Shakespearian in its grandeur; its structure is episodic and it is briskly directed by Daniel Sullivan. The audience is divided in two parts both facing each other [like the currently running Fragment at CSC – which would make an excellent companion piece] and the action takes place in the space between. There are some exceptional performances, most notably Peter Francis James as Colin Powell and Jeffrey DeMunn as Donald Rumsfeld. Stuff Happens replaced a new work by Anna Deavere Smith that was originally scheduled for the Public’s season and has been postponed. And it struck me how similar this is to works by Deavere Smith and how I’d love to see her play all of the characters in Stuff Happens. Overall this is a great evening in the theater and 2 hours and 45 minutes never flew by so quickly.

For info:

Sandra Bernhard: Everything Bad and Beautiful: 04/01/2006

There is no director credited in the program for Sandra Bernhard: Everything Bad and Beautiful – and that’s a shame because it could really use one. Or even an editor for that matter, because there is about thirty minutes of excellent material at hand. Unfortunately the thirty minutes of excellent material is spread out over one hour and fifty minutes. Bernhard is best when cutting through the hypocrisy of our current times (Laura, George, Jenna and Barbara Bush; Condoleezza Rice; Iraq) and amazingly least successful and making her own disconnected life relevant to anyone. Her musical numbers range from inspired to unending. She sounds great, though, and looks better…and I bet to Sandra that’s all that matters.

For Info: