Posts Tagged ‘Entertainment

12
Apr
18

This Flat Earth: My Review

This Flat Earth

March 16, 2018 – April 29, 2018
Mainstage Theater
Written by Lindsey Ferrentino
Directed by Rebecca Taichman

Let us not bandy about. This Flat Earth is an important play. It is among the first of its kind to arrive in the theatrical commercial mainstream. It will sadly not be the last. This production is a clear clarion call for a problem that is only now becoming locked into our national psyche even though it’s grown from a constant and seemingly unending set of events. This Flat Earth by Lindsey Ferrentino, now at Playwrights Horizons, is about the death of our young students, the individual impact this has on all our daily lives, the struggles that present themselves as we pay a repeated cost, and the message manifests itself as a subtly delivered yet powerfully landed punch to the societal gut.

Thirteen is a critical age. It’s the supposed time when teenagers begin that transition into adulthood. It’s a time of reality and responsibility. Reality comes crashing in on Julie and Zander. They’re both thirteen and living in an idyllic seaside town in New England. They also both attend a perfect middle school where a gunman has entered the building and shattered their lives. Both teens are trying desperately to process the event each in their own way. Ian Saint-Germanin as Zander is a wonder of awkward but deeply caring pubescent contradictions. Ella Kennedy Davis takes the role of Julie to heart and succeeds comically and gracefully in wrestling with the complex issues before them. We see a majority of the coping both good and bad through Julie’s eyes and they are the perfect lenses for viewing troubled understanding.

This Flat Earth

March 16, 2018 – April 29, 2018
Mainstage Theater
Written by Lindsey Ferrentino
Directed by Rebecca Taichman

While the kids are trying to find meaning in chaos the adults here are attempting to do the same. Julie’s single dad Dan, a former standup comic turned working class hero in order to make things better for his daughter, doesn’t have all the tools necessary to answer his daughters very real and sometimes abstract questions but he tries as hard as he can to help. Sometimes a little too hard. Lucas Papaelias is charming and endearing here as Dan. He’s the perfect slightly imperfect father fueled by well-meaning intentions. The other counter balancing grown up here is Lisa played by Cassie Beck who’s a powerhouse actress filling her role with jumbled nerves and tortured angst. As she comes and goes Lisa serves as a constant reminder of the incident. She lost her daughter that day. The energy of that loss is always with her and it impacts everyone in this world.

Rising above them all, quite literally due to the fabulous two-story set of scenic designer Dane Laffrey, is Cloris. She lives in the apartment above Julie and Dan and its from there that she rules the roost as the sage goddess figure of the proceedings. Lynda Gravatt’s performance is stellar and grounding. She brings a knowing gravitas that helps to provide a much-needed balm to not only Dan and the kids but to those of us in the dark as well. Cloris has been around, she’s experienced all that life has to offer, she understands that life is a set of patterns that are as predictable as they are unpredictable and that change for the better is sometimes hard fought and hard won.

This Flat Earth

March 16, 2018 – April 29, 2018
Mainstage Theater
Written by Lindsey Ferrentino
Directed by Rebecca Taichman

From the start of This Flat Earth author Ferrentino carefully sets about the business of layering in a narrative foundation and then methodically reverse engineering this emotional time bomb as she peels back each layer. By the time the ninety minutes are up she leaves you an emotional but much wiser mess. There is no hammer here pounding the nail home. There is no rallying cry driving you to action. There is just a constant sense of truth in the midst of heartfelt questions and genuine pain. Everyone in this world pays a price and because the writer never talks down to her audience we easily empathize with each of them.

The production is deftly directed by Rebecca Taichman but Ferrentino and Taichman both work together seamlessly to let their characters breathe the moments of their lives which enables us to witness our own in theirs. Writer and director both let these characters find humor in the dark, compassion in the light, and everyone is allowed their cathartic pangs without judgement. Whether at the blunt end of the barrel of a gun, or at the sharp point of a jointly crafted moment, This Flat Earth proves itself to be a significant work that never preaches as it enlightens in the midst of our current politically polarized climate.

Playwrights Horizons
Mainstage Theater
416 West 42nd Street
$49 – $89
www.playwrightshorizons.org/shows/plays/flat-earth/
212-564-1235
Mar 16 – April 29, 2018

From an original post on TheaterScene.

Edward MedinaEdward Medina is an Amazon KDP bestselling author of high fantasy, dark horror, and epic adventure books, short stories, and poems. To date his combined works have earned over one hundred and fifty Amazon and Goodreads five star reviews from readers, reviewers, bloggers, teachers and fellow authors.

He is a native New Yorker who over time has built a significant and multifaceted career. He has been a producer, director, and writer for both digital media and the New York Off and Off – Off Broadway stages. He also had the honor and the privilege to work for the late great Jim Henson creator of the Muppets.

Edward founded a successful independent production company dedicated to family entertainment and children’s causes. He also established a multimedia company in order to assist nonprofits achieve their own cause related goals. He went on to become a theme park designer. For fun he became a steam train engineer and has been since childhood a sometime magician.

Currently Edward is a critic and feature entertainment columnist covering Broadway, Off Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, Clubs and Cabarets for TheaterScene and The Fire Island Sun. He also maintains his love of theatrical production by continuing to create new works for both stage and screen. And his dream of building a fully realized world of fantasy on tropical shores is still very much alive and well.

If you’d like more detailed information on Edward’s work, visit his LinkedIn profile or his website. You can also explore his books, follow him on Twitter, like his page on Facebook, and subscribe to his blog on WordPress.

Edward Medina is proud to be a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, the Dramatists Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Horror Writers Association.

09
Nov
17

M. Butterfly: My Review

M Butterfly 1

Clive Owen and Jin Ha (Copyright Matthew Murphy)

There’s a prison cell on stage at the Cort Theatre. It’s occupied by a single prisoner. The man in the box is a civil servant convicted of betraying his government. He’s been imprisoned mind, body, and soul along with the remembrances of the circumstances that caused him to be locked away. He fell in love with an enigmatic opera singer and he fell for the trap she set for him. Love is the key that locked him away. The cell is in Paris and the year is 1986.

This is the true story of an affair and an incident that began during the turbulent sixties. Rene Gallimard was a married low-level French diplomat stationed in China who fell in love with Song Liling, an enigmatic Beijing opera singer. His two decades old affair of the heart was blind to the political intrigues and the vagaries of espionage that surrounded his desires. China was a changing political hotbed filled with foreign devils wanting fantasy woman. Gallimard’s fantasy woman was just that, a fantasy. He believed her to be a woman when she was in fact a man.

M Butterfly 5

(Copyright Matthew Murphy)

While it was not unusual at the time for males to portray females in the Chinese opera, the diplomat goes out of his way to believe his lover is a woman and she uses that to her advantage. Her deceptions are deep and even involve spying for the Communist government. Despite warnings from his friend, suspicions from his wife, and the tacit prodding of his superiors, Gallimard falls for the deceptions that ultimately cause him to lose everything including a child that was never really his to begin with. The deceptions and delusions follow him through his trial and his imprisonment, and it’s there in his cell, night after night, that he relives it all over and over again for his own torture, and our amusement.

Butterfly is a powerful play with theatrical provenance. The original production premiered on Broadway in 1988, ran for almost 800 performances, and won the Tony Award for Best Play. The venerable Puccini opera Madam Butterfly plays a role here as well. It’s arias and music frames a great deal of the drama. However, it’s the cinematic quality of this production that truly sets it apart. Clive Owen’s performance as Rene Gallimard is reminiscent of classic Hollywood actors like Clark Gable and Robert Mitchum but with a hollow core at his emotional center. In turn Jin Ha as Song Liling carries his, and herself, with the glamour and mystery of legendary ladies of the Chinese Cinema like Ruan Lingyu and Brigitte Lin but with the added cold steel of a film noir Barbara Stanwyck. The rest of the ensemble also provide solid performances while at the same time carrying out multiple roles.

The settings of scenic designer Paul Steinberg move fluidly from place to place like origami paper sculptures that fold and unfold. Screens as colorful art pieces, transforming into shadow boxes, glass walls, and architectural forms that provide both open space and solitary confinement. The original music and soundscapes composed by Elliot Goldenthal set the proper moods and tones of all these locations as does the exquisite work of lighting designer Donald Holder. The lush costumes of designer Constance Hoffman are beautiful whether they are the drab green wear of menacing soldiers or the decadence of Liling’s gowns and Ma Cong’s outstanding choreography delivers in a multitude of styles as well. The world of M. Butterfly is a fully realized world and all these artists have given it a fluid and very visual life.

M Butterfly 3

(Copyright Matthew Murphy)

This piece of theatrical performance art has one visionary at its core. That creative eye belongs to director Julie Taymor. Her hand can be seen and felt everywhere in M. Butterfly. Her experience in theater, opera, and film all combine into a strong creative vision that coalesces each form into one outstanding piece of work. She is currently represented on Broadway by the grandeur of The Lion King, she’s most known in some circles for the nightmare that was Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, but here her work is reminiscent of the boldness of her earlier directing choices like Juan Darien: A Carnival Mass. You are just not going to find a director more willing to take an artistic risk on the American stage than Julie Taymor and here the all risks pay off.

M Butterfly 4

(Copyright Matthew Murphy)

M. Butterfly shows no signs of aging. Playwright David Henry Hwang has made some changes to his masterwork but they only serve to amplify the already clear themes of the original, and to clarify some of the facts of the actual events. Arguments can, will, and have been made as to the necessity, both good and bad, of those changes. Just like his first incarnation, time will tell. As for the obvious, one would think that the gender bending twist of M. Butterfly would have lost some of its impact some thirty years later. The opposite proves to be true. In this day and age gender identification is front and center in our national mind set. Though it may be the focus of a great deal of the current body politic, in the new M. Butterfly the issue tugs at the heart strings and serves more of an emotional punch than a shocking blow to the mind. Perhaps the well-deserved attention and accolades this revamped production will undoubtedly receive will help to broaden the scope of our collective psyche.

The Cort Theatre
138 W 48th St
New York, NY 10036
$39 – $139
(212) 239-6200
Mbutterflybroadway.com
Oct 7 – Feb 25, 2018

From an original post on TheaterScene.

Edward MedinaEdward Medina is an Amazon KDP bestselling author of high fantasy, dark horror, and epic adventure books, short stories, and poems. To date his combined works have earned over one hundred and fifty Amazon and Goodreads five star reviews from readers, reviewers, bloggers, teachers and fellow authors.

He is a native New Yorker who over time has built a significant and multifaceted career. He has been a producer, director, and writer for both digital media and the New York Off and Off – Off Broadway stages. He also had the honor and the privilege to work for the late great Jim Henson creator of the Muppets.

Edward founded a successful independent production company dedicated to family entertainment and children’s causes. He also established a multimedia company in order to assist nonprofits achieve their own cause related goals. He went on to become a theme park designer. For fun he became a steam train engineer and has been since childhood a sometime magician.

Currently Edward is a critic and feature entertainment columnist covering Broadway, Off Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, Clubs and Cabarets for TheaterScene and The Fire Island Sun. He also maintains his love of theatrical production by continuing to create new works for both stage and screen. And his dream of building a fully realized world of fantasy on tropical shores is still very much alive and well.

If you’d like more detailed information on Edward’s work, visit his LinkedIn profile or his website. You can also explore his books, follow him on Twitter, like his page on Facebook, and subscribe to his blog on WordPress.

Edward Medina is proud to be a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, the Dramatists Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Horror Writers Association.

27
Oct
17

Squeamish: My Review

Photo Oct 17, 12 36 10 PM

Alison Fraser in Squeamish (Photo by Maria Baranova)

Sharon is a basket case. She’s a New York City, Upper West Side psychoanalyst in need of her own New York City, Upper West Side psychiatrist. She’s off her meds. Has been for a while. She’s a recovering alcoholic. Desperately in need of a drink. Sharon’s barely keeping it together but she’s still capable of understanding her needs. She needs to see her shrink. Badly. Even though she hasn’t kept up with her visits she shows up at Dr. Schneider’s apartment in the dead of night. Once inside she takes a seat.

It’s there that we first find her. It’s there that she will remain. For the next ninety intermission-less moments we will be transfixed by her story. She will gloriously regale us, and the good doctor, with her recent adventures in the flat landscape of Lubbock, Texas. She will tell us about her nephew’s sudden death and the funeral that brought her to that hot and humid place. She’ll go on about her encounters with the locals. Her growing paranoia. Her expanding psychosis. Her continuing nightmares. Most importantly she will tell us of her hemophobia. Her fear of blood. The results of her relationship with the warm red fluid that keeps us all alive will drive the tale and keep you fixed and focused on Sharon’s every word.

Sharon has been falling asleep on her own patients as of late. Nightmares of her mother’s past suicide have been keeping her awake. She’s now at the same age when her mother did herself in. She’s also having nightmares about her cousin Eddie’s recent suicide. If it was indeed a suicide. Her trip is a journey to find the truth. Once in Texas the mystery thickens as Sharon meets Cara who has a thing for razor sharp knives and the taste of blood. Despite being squeamish about life’s vital juice for as long as she can remember, except for that one time she tasted her own and found it oddly satisfying and sexually gratifying, Sharon finds herself going along on Cara’s sanguinarian adventures. All this death and blood, and lack of booze and pills, and the smell of peppermint that permeates her cheap motel room leaves Sharon’s mind in a state of frenzied confusion. All of this leads to some very dark morbid choices on her part and therein lies the bloody rub.

A good horror story is one that draws you in closer and closer until the trap that’s been set begins to close in around you. The trappings of Squeamish are sublime. Every aspect of the All For One Theater production at the Beckett Theatre on Theatre Row are exquisite in their execution.

It is pitch black in the house when the show begins. In fact, before Squeamish even starts the usual warnings of cell phone activity is heightened by the additional caution that any light, even the light from your watch, will appear three-fold brighter should it suddenly reveals itself. Darkness is this productions friend. Everything in this world is black. The walls, the simple furnishings, the frame representing a large window overlooking the city, even Sharon is dressed entirely in black. Lighting designer Sarah Johnston, and her associate designer Sophie Talmadge Silleck, manage to use all this negative dark space to heighten the low-level lighting that they concentrate tightly on Sharon, her cup, table, and chair. There’s subtlety in design is at work here in an extremely elegant fashion.

A one-person show is primarily a dance between actor and author. A symbiosis of two storytellers at work. Here, once again, the production is in excellent hands. Playwright Aaron Mark has crafted a frightening journey that travels along a very tight wire. He balances humor and pathos with finesse. His characters are woven well and feel very real. Squeamish is his third psychological thriller and it is indeed charmed. Mark also takes the helm here as director and the benefits of his deceptively light touch are palpable. The highest compliment that can be paid to a director is that a good director is one that is never caught directing. Mark lets the words speak for themselves and he cast the perfect actress to deliver them.

Alison Fraser in Squeamish (Photo by Maria Baranova)

Alison Fraser in Squeamish (Photo by Maria Baranova)

Alison Fraser as Sharon is a wonder to behold. Along with playing Sharon she will also inhabit six other characters, both male and female. There are no doubts that the technical skills of a two time Tony Award nominee are at work here in a masterful performance. Those skills are wrapped up in an artistic tour deforce that makes you fall for the sanguine, neurotic, twisted little soul she brings to life. There’s a smoky, syrupy, sultry texture to Fraser’s voice that is intoxicating. Her delivery of Sharon’s staccato thoughts is flawless and instrumental to that all-important draw that sucks you into her story. Squeamish does indeed have a twist but Alison Fraser herself is the seductive trap.

Sharon spends the waning night in Dr. Schneider’s apartment. Time flies here and there is a profound sense of disappointment as the sun begins to rise on Sharon’s tale and the realization occurs that things are coming to an end. There’s a great deal to be said when you long to spend more time in the company of a charming yet deadly villain.

The Beckett Theatre – Theatre Row
410 West 42nd St
New York, NY 10036
$52.25
www.theatrerow.org
212-239-6200
Oct 6 – Nov 11, 2017

From an original post on TheaterScene.

Edward MedinaEdward Medina is an Amazon KDP bestselling author of high fantasy, dark horror, and epic adventure books, short stories, and poems. To date his combined works have earned over one hundred and fifty Amazon and Goodreads five star reviews from readers, reviewers, bloggers, teachers and fellow authors.

He is a native New Yorker who over time has built a significant and multifaceted career. He has been a producer, director, and writer for both digital media and the New York Off and Off – Off Broadway stages. He also had the honor and the privilege to work for the late great Jim Henson creator of the Muppets.

Edward founded a successful independent production company dedicated to family entertainment and children’s causes. He also established a multimedia company in order to assist nonprofits achieve their own cause related goals. He went on to become a theme park designer. For fun he became a steam train engineer and has been since childhood a sometime magician.

Currently Edward is a critic and feature entertainment columnist covering Broadway, Off Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, Clubs and Cabarets for TheaterScene and The Fire Island Sun. He also maintains his love of theatrical production by continuing to create new works for both stage and screen. And his dream of building a fully realized world of fantasy on tropical shores is still very much alive and well.

If you’d like more detailed information on Edward’s work, visit his LinkedIn profile or his website. You can also explore his books, follow him on Twitter, like his page on Facebook, and subscribe to his blog on WordPress.

Edward Medina is proud to be a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, the Dramatists Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Horror Writers Association.

11
Oct
17

A Clockwork Orange: My Review

Pete (Misha Osherovich), Alex (Jonno Davies), Georgie (Matt Doyle) and Dim (Sean-Patrick Higgins). (Photo Credit Caitlin McNaney)

Pete (Misha Osherovich), Alex (Jonno Davies), Georgie (Matt Doyle) and Dim (Sean-Patrick Higgins). (Photo Credit Caitlin McNaney)

Welcome to New World Stages Theatre Four. Welcome to a Brechtian black box presentation of testosterone driven madness. Welcome to a space where the aesthetics of naturalism as theatrical illusion is nuked out of existence and the poetics of epic theater abounds in its place.

As you take your seat you will swear you hear the announcers call of a WWE wrestling match. Sitting there in that heavily raked bowl of a space you’ll be subjected to pounding music, a heavy dose of atmospheric fog, and fixed and focused lights that keep the space lit yet dim. You’ll be surrounded by a forced to be too loud crowd, and hawkers of peanuts and drinks. Until an unannounced street gang of four begin to make their way down the aisle. The thespian cage match is about to begin.

They call themselves Droogs. They speak in a patois of their own making called Nadsat which is a mix of Cockney slang, Shakespearian poetry, and Russian vocabulary. They drink gads and gads of a drugged milk drink they call Moloko. They fight amongst themselves. They fight with others of their kind. They appear merciless. A gay man is beaten and raped. A rich woman is raped and killed. This cacophony of ultraviolence dance fighting galore is all done to a soundtrack of Beethoven, Bowie, and Frankie Goes to Hollywood, just to name a few.

An ensemble of male actors Jimmy Brooks, Matt Doyle, Sean Patrick Higgins, Brian Lee Huynh, Misha Osherovich, Ashley Robinson, Timothy Sekk, Alekssander Varadian is led by the impressive Jonno Davies as Alex deLarge. Other than Davies this ensemble will morph into a variety of characters, both male and female, that tell Alex’s tale and in that they all do an exemplary job within the parameters they’ve been given.

Our ne’er-do-well anti-hero is eventually imprisoned where he becomes Prisoner 6655321 and a subject of experimental aversion therapy to cure him of his evil ways and turn him into a guinea pig of government reform. His love of music is turned against him. It only serves to remind him of mental horrors forcibly projected into his mind. It results in his ability to manifest violence being taken from him. The thought alone pains him. He becomes a weakling before his enemies.

Brian Lee Huynh (left) and Jonno Davies (right). (Photo Credit Caitlin McNaney)

Brian Lee Huynh (left) and Jonno Davies (right). (Photo Credit Caitlin McNaney)

The newly reformed Alex is granted early release as a reward for subjecting himself to the cure of the state. His return brings him to a changed home life. His parents reject him more than usual. There’s a new boarder occupying his old room and his space in the family unit. His former Droog playmates are now on the side of law enforcement. Ex-villains being used to catch real villains. Alex ends up becoming a stranger in his own strange land and in his closing monologue, delivered directly to us, he reminds us that there are many Alex’s out there, there are also Droogs to be wary of, and they are creations of our own making.

Anthony Burgess is credited with writing the play though he passed in 1993 without actually writing a version for the stage. His dystopian novel, initially inspired by the violent assault on his wife Lynn who was robbed, beaten, and raped by US Army deserters during a World War II blackout, was first published in 1962. The film adaptation of his work by Stanley Kubrick followed nearly a decade later in 1971 but the singularly violent tone it set was created from the American version of the novel which had its most important twenty first chapter removed. The final chapter, in a structure set by Burgess to correspond with the established number of years in a young life, is one of redemption and change for Alex and seems to be restored in this interpretation.

Here in the twenty first century the reprobates in this theatrical incarnation appear more punkhipster chic than truly dangerous theatrical architypes. Even the once shocking violence while still disturbing in a live setting seems to be tame by the standards our current society has become all too familiar with as of late.

Alexandra Spencer-Jones’s all-encompassing directing style here is predicated on faster, bigger, louder, and more grotesque. This lack of finesse results in a very loud one note presentation. The complex jabberwocky like poetry of language that marks Burgess’s work gets lost as it blows passed the ear. The humor in this intended satire becomes so broad that it only registers in the lowest common denominators. The ensemble is forced into overmodulation and with everything playing at level eleven on the amp there’s no place to go but down, and down while refreshing when it does make a rare appearance, reads as weakness here.

The Cast of 'A Clockwork Orange' at New World Stages. (Photo Credit Caitlin McNaney)

The Cast of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ at New World Stages. (Photo Credit Caitlin McNaney)

Epic theatre exists in the realm of disconcerting alienation. Actors playing multiple roles to blur the lines between protagonists and antagonists. Focused specific lighting forces the eye to see only what is meant to be seen. Abstract scenery deconstructs the normal.  The clash of modern and classical music further confuses the senses. All these tricks are on display here, and while they are successful individually they fail to coalesce and deliver a whole. Bertolt Brecht once said that art is not a mirror with which to reflect reality but a hammer with which to shape it. A hammer would have been useful here instead of the unwieldy use of an ax.

New World Stages
340 West 50th Street
New York, NY 10019
$59 – $89
www.aclockworkorangeplay.com
212-239-6200
Sept 25 – Jan 6, 2018

From an original post on TheaterScene/The Fire Island Sun.

Edward MedinaEdward Medina is an Amazon KDP bestselling author of high fantasy, dark horror, and epic adventure books, short stories, and poems. To date his combined works have earned over one hundred and fifty Amazon and Goodreads five star reviews from readers, reviewers, bloggers, teachers and fellow authors.

He is a native New Yorker who over time has built a significant and multifaceted career. He has been a producer, director, and writer for both digital media and the New York Off and Off – Off Broadway stages. He also had the honor and the privilege to work for the late great Jim Henson creator of the Muppets.

Edward founded a successful independent production company dedicated to family entertainment and children’s causes. He also established a multimedia company in order to assist nonprofits achieve their own cause related goals. He went on to become a theme park designer. For fun he became a steam train engineer and has been since childhood a sometime magician.

Currently Edward is a critic and feature entertainment columnist covering Broadway, Off Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, Clubs and Cabarets for TheaterScene and The Fire Island Sun. He also maintains his love of theatrical production by continuing to create new works for both stage and screen. And his dream of building a fully realized world of fantasy on tropical shores is still very much alive and well.

If you’d like more detailed information on Edward’s work, visit his LinkedIn profile or his website. You can also explore his books, follow him on Twitter, like his page on Facebook, and subscribe to his blog on WordPress.

Edward Medina is proud to be a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, the Dramatists Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Horror Writers Association.




Edward Medina Author

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