Posts Tagged ‘Play

01
May
18

The Metromaniacs: My Review

Metromaniacs 2Words. Words. Words. Beautiful luscious words. Set in rhymes. Framed in metaphors. Hung in allegories. Displayed with glorious grace, slick style, and unending rapturous wit. The rhyme rules here and while some are more forced than others they all manage to fall lovingly on the ear. The plot of Red Bull Theater’s production of The Metromaniacs is madness triumphant. It’s the wackadoodle stuff of classical French farce set to a modern world extreme. Presented as a translaptation, a combination of translation and adaptation, written by the gifted and proven playwright David Ives, the text is from the original obscure 1738 play La Metromanie by Alexis Piron. The script itself is most definitely the central driving force and provides the necessary gunpowder for the fireworks to follow.

On stage at The Duke on 42nd Street theater a decadent spring has sprung in the year 1738 and in the ballroom setting of a grand house in Paris, a play is in the making and madness is about to ensue. Metromania, a mania for poetry, is the driving obsession of the period. Love is in the air, so is artistic creation, familial foibles, and all the players involved are incognito to some degree or another. The exact story is a furiously fast paced layered delight that is yours to discover and savor. The sometimes pleasantly dizzying series of events rests on the shoulders of an extremely capable and stellar assortment of actors and their characters.

Metromaniacs 1Christian Conn is a comedic cyclone as Damis, a young poet that has fallen in love with a mysterious female poet that he only knows in print and is later revealed, unknown to him, to be a man. Mondor, Damis’s valet, as presented by Adam Green is a hilarious foil that tries to bring things back down to earth again and again but just manages to get himself further entrenched in it all. Lucille, a young woman in love with poetry, played with broad Mean Girls sass and vacancy by Amelia Pedlow finds herself looking for love even though it never occurred to her to search for it before this day. Noah Averbach-Katz plays Dorante, the young man in love with Lucille, with zany delight as he attempts to court her as someone very much other than himself.

Lisette, Lucille’s maid, in the hands of Dina Thomas, at times coming dangerously close to stealing the show, is the clever sneaky center of this madcap maze. Francalou, Lucille’s father, who wrote the evening’s entertainment, desperately wants to marry off his daughter and also ends up being Damis’s gender fluid poet, is wonderfully funny and charming as portrayed by theater veteran Adam LeFevre. And Peter Kybart is a literal blast as Baliveau, Damis’s closeminded, rich, grumpy, thespian to be, uncle. The entire ensemble is spectacular and they’re having as much of a good time with this elegant screwball comedy as the audience is and that plusses the fun.

Metromaniacs 3This is a hold on to your hats boys and girls production and under the direction of Michael Kahn it’s a roller coaster ride that leaves you breathless with joy. The singular set by James Noone is gorgeous as are the costumes designed by Murell Horton and the wigs created by Dori Beau Seigneur. The Metromaniacs is a must see show for those that love words, wordplay, farce, fantasy, intelligent and broad slapstick comedy, and lush deliciously presented theatricality. The Metromaniacs is a rare and sumptuous treat you must enjoy while you can.

The Duke on 42nd St
229 W 42nd St
New York NY 10036
646.223.3010 ext.8
www.redbulltheater.com/the-metromaniacs
$75-$95
April 10 – May 26, 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.

28
Apr
18

Seagullmachine: My Review

Seagullmachine 1Seagullmachine, now being presented at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club’s Ellen Stewart Theatre, is the totally immersive creation of The Assembly which describes itself as a collective of multi-disciplinary performance artists committed to realizing a visceral and intelligent theater for a new generation. There are two distinct parts to this creation which was principally conceived by Assembly member Nick Benacerraf with a script by Anton Chekhov, Heiner Muller, The Assembly, and with a nod to William Shakespeare

The first part has the audience ushered passed an empty performance space and through a door to a performance space with three quarter seating and set pieces and props everywhere. A wall with a metal garage door separates you from the empty space. As you take your seat there are actors milling about, warming up, reading their notes, and laying about on couches or sitting at desks presumably pondering what’s to come. What eventually follows is a traditional execution of Anton Chekov’s The Seagull. The racially diverse and multigenerational cast is as effective as they can be in this relatively staid world. They do shine at times though, and with all candor, the entire ensemble is to be commended for the multiple roles, both real and unreal, they will each pull off during the balance of their time on stage.

After intermission in what is the midst of a performance length of two hours and forty-five minutes we return to Chekov’s Seagull but as the action progresses and at the moment when Konstantin would normally shoot himself a jarring change occurs. Someone begins banging loudly on the garage door. Up to this point the large rolling metal door has been being used as a curtain to a supposed stage set against a field and a distant lake in this play within a play world. What follows is a full blown sequined Baz Luhrmann-like musical extravaganza of the obscure ten-page play Hamletmachine by German postmodern dramatist Heiner Mueller. In addition to the confounding confusion, sight lines are a definite problem here. It doesn’t help that the garage door wall bisecting the set designed by Nick Benacerraf and Emmie Finckel does not prove entirely effective for a good portion of the house observing from the three-quarter round seating.

Seagullmachine 2The next part of the evening has the audience being lead back to the once empty performance space to find themselves surrounded by loud, brash, neon colored costumes on display. Costume designer Kate Fry having been restrained in the first section was now allowed to go all out and her work is quite beautiful in its glorious absurdity. Here in this world the voyeurs are encouraged to walk around, view the costumes, speak to the cast, some of whom have now changed into colorful garb, and even help others change into the clothing on display. There amongst the multitude of flat screens playing images of social destruction and broadcasts of gloom and doom with disco music blaring and dancing encouraged the cast begins recitations and pronouncements until an observer is chosen to be the sacrificial Dane.

This theatrical double play, co-directed by Jess Chayes and Nick Benacerraf, doesn’t ever gel enough to actually work together. As much as they try to make the pieces fit the whole is never greater than the sum of its parts. The Seagull portion is passible and would work well on its own if it didn’t feel as if it was just a long setup for the rest of the show to come. The first half of the Hamletmachine section is just bizarrely out of place and so overblown to everything that precedes it that any hope of it being a bridge to what follows is immediately lost. The colorful, daring, and fancifully shocking madness of the latter part is left to try and make sense of it all. The task is too much for it to bear because everything leading up to that moment feels so distant and unrelated.

Experimental theatre is indeed a risky business. Abstract ideas need to meet real-world dilemmas and then be delivered in a strong and unified voice that leaves the audience moved in ways they never expected in forms they themselves could never visualize as possible. The Assembly may rightly believe there is a conceptual connection to this production but it’s a seemingly thin one. What’s truly missing is a strong enough artistic through line to connect this duo of extremely individual experiences. Shock for shocks sake never works on its own. It needs a solid foundation to land the blow. With Seagullmachine The Assembly is clearly brave enough to take risks they just need to unify the voice they deliver it with.

La MaMa
Ellen Stewart Theatre
66 E 4th St
212.254.6468
http://lamama.org/seagull_machine/
$30

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.

17
Apr
18

The Amazing Kreskin Live: My Review

KreskinThe Amazing Kreskin is a mentalist of the highest order and has been for the past fifty years. By his own count he has had a television series, his own board game by Milton Bradley, twenty published books, and a major motion picture inspired by his work.

Kreskin is also a well-known prognosticator. He has predicted presidential elections far in advance, including Trump’s win, as well as sporting events, and great moments in history. His skills of manipulation with a deck of cards have gotten him banned from gambling anywhere in Las Vegas. He’s traveled the globe and met with airline pilots who marvel that his three million plus travel miles far exceed their own flight miles. He’s appeared on The Tonight Show over eighty times and was the inspiration for one of Carson’s most famous creations Carnac the Magnificent. Don’t be confused though because while he does claim some natural intuitive abilities that he says have been with him all his life, he also admits there are some tricks at work here as well, but he is no magician. What the Amazing Kreskin truly has been is a significant part of pop culture history throughout the world.

At the Lion Theatre on Theatre Row Kreskin is back at work in a production that is a combination of his greatest hits and a career retrospective. It’s just the man himself solo onstage, a few folding metal chairs, some books and needed props, and a tall three-fold screen for the mentalist, and some of his volunteers, to isolate themselves from energy that may interfere with the work to be done. It is in this setting that he performs his mental feats and in between his miracles he regales the audience with stories from his illustrious career.

A book is passed to an audience member, a word is randomly chosen, Kreskin adeptly reveals the word with ease and without any prompting. A story is told about the legendry Steve Allen and about Kreskin’s first appearance on TV. He was so in awe of Allen and overwhelmed by the studio lights that he tripped and fell flat on his face before a live audience.

Kreskin, having picked an audience member in the lobby before the show, has them pick a random card from a new deck, then brings that individual on stage along with another to randomly cut a separate deck to discover the selected card at the exact place he predicted it would be. A story is told of spending time in Johnny Carson’s dressing room during The Tonight Show days. Johnny loved his ability to locate cards at will in the deck and that misstep on the Allen show served as the impetus for Carnac’s always clumsy entrance.

Kreskin incorrectly guesses at the exact change in a woman’s pocket but is instantly redeemed by a note he handed to a man earlier in the proceedings that provides the actual correct amount and then another story is told. This is the pattern and the crux of the evening. At eighty-three The Amazing Kreskin is an old school performer and a class act. His very presence on the stage recalls his history and exemplifies his longevity. The stories he tells delights the audience members that are old enough to remember them. The mental acrobatics he so nimbly performs astonish the younger crowd who have no idea who this charming and dapper man continues to be. One of his volunteers, Kreskin never picks people from the audience he only asks for those who want to participate to step forward, was an adolescent and she clearly seemed stunned and delighted by his abilities. An older gentleman in the crowd whispered to his seat mate more than once that ‘Kreskin really is amazing” and they agreed.

It doesn’t matter what your opinion may be of his abilities and where they come from, it doesn’t matter if you know the historical figures in the stories, you may groan at the corny jokes, or giggle at his repeated requests for his volunteer’s names and when he drops the occasional prop. Make no mistake though Kreskin has been at this for a lifetime and every move he makes serves his well-traveled and very skilled performance, and at the end of the evening you will turn to someone or think to yourself, you know what, he really is amazing.

The Lion Theatre
Theatre Row
410 West 42nd Street
212.239.6200
$37.25 – $52.25
http://www.theatrerow.org/lion
April 12 – 28, 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.

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.

26
Mar
18

Prurience: My Review

Prurience 1An old woman sits quietly in a chair. Her chair is one of many in a circle. She sits amongst a group of fellow addicts that are in need of confession. Admissions and revelations begin spewing forth until she decides it’s her turn. She then tells the story of a date she had when she was a young woman. Her date had her meet him in New York’s Times Square. He began by touring her about the then seedy stretch of strip joints and porn theaters. She’s slightly offended but can’t help to be a bit turned on. The young man convinces her to step inside one of those porn theaters to experience her first pornographic film. Lo and behold the man she’s with is starring in the film. Afterwards they sleep together, fall in love, and then she decides to move in with him.

It’s an intriguing story. What makes it intriguing isn’t the content of the story. It’s that one is wondering throughout the lurid revelation whether the old woman is telling the truth or whether she’s one of the many actors sitting in a circle at the Guggenheim Museum’s restaurant The Wright. They’re all playing a part in an experimental immersive theatrical production produced by Works & Process at the Guggenheim. Prurience is an almost two-hour long group therapy session for porn addicts and you’re invited along for the fun. That is if paying good hard-earned money to sit through an almost two-hour long group therapy session for porn addicts is your idea of fun.

The Prurience Method is a supposed modern-day bastardized self-help Masters and Johnson for porno addicts. They hold regular weekly meetings were everyone grabs a chair, sits in a circle, and shares. The annoying, pony tailed, logo baseball cap wearing host, who feigns being late like he always is, makes his introduction and lays out the rules. Have some tea and cookies. Sing the indoctrination song. Lots of greet your neighbor and acknowledge each other’s presence. Collaborate with others in the word play games. Put post it notes with helpful thoughts on the feedback tree. Confess your addiction but don’t demand results. Watch the video tape of founder and former porn star, producer, and director Amelia Atkins.

This is all geared to unlocking your memories, desires, and need to reveal your overt love of porn. This is all meant to be both satire and drama and Prurience is not always successful at either. Created and written by British performance artist, and the evenings host, Christopher Green, and directed along with his co-director Holly Race Roughan, Prurience presents an evening of both performers and perhaps audience members revealing their intimate sexual secrets. Some actors are better at this than others. Some audience members are actors that are not. Without a program there’s no way of knowing who the players are as story after story are told. At the end of the performance piece nine actors behave as if they’re the phonies but this may be an illusion as well because it felt like more actors were involved in attempting the illusion.

People have an inherent psychological need to follow and the creators take advantage of that but the problem with Prurience is that it cannot just be experienced. Prurience insists that you believe. Prurience insists that you participate. Oddly enough there’s no room for the voyeur here because once you just observe you can clearly see the cracks in the flimsy façade. The structure and illusion doesn’t always hold. It’s not that the subject matter is uncomfortable. It’s that the presentation of it is awkward and annoying in its lack of truth. The sad punchline is that no one gets any help. In that way there is no drama. Only emotional presentation. There are confessions but no conclusions.

Like a bad overlong sketch with no ending in sight the session quickly devolves into an overlong, overlapping, extremely grating shouting match which we’re supposed to believe causes an abrupt end to the fake festivities. This then requires an actual intervention. Even that doesn’t play well. What happens next to wrap up this circle jerk is so absurd that its best left to those who are willing to endure the Prurience method and experience the closing disco lit musical number. Suffice it to say the actual method here is in and of itself a confused attempt to entertain but ultimately proves flacid.

The Wright Restaurant
1071 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10128
https://www.guggenheim.org/event/prurience
(212) 423-3575
March 21 – 31, 2018
$45

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.

12
Feb
18

The Chekhov Dreams: My Review

Chekhov Dreams 3Sometimes in the world of theatre you run into the seemingly perfect show. Everything appears to be just as it should be. The actors are talented and in some cases truly gifted. The script is appropriately funny, or tragic, or both whichever the case may be. The design facets are successfully executed and presented. The direction is in line with the text and equally in sync with the production. The audience is responding right on cue as expected. Yet in spite of all that there’s something just not right overall. As smooth as everything seems, as hard as everyone is working to nail it, there’s a nagging feeling that there’s something rotten in the state of Minsk. The Chekhov Dreams, currently playing at Theatre Row’s Beckett Theatre, is one such show.

Jeremy is an independently wealthy struggling wanna be author. One evening over lots of wine, and a mutual game of guess the quote by which famous literary figure, Jeremy and his recently ex-girlfriend Kate form a blood oath to reach out and remain together in this life and the afterlife. This of course immediately leads to her death in a car accident. Three years later the still rich and now lost Jeremy is struggling to finish his first book. His opus is loosely based on Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen which was a favorite story of his since childhood. In the midst of the struggle he begins having regular dreams where Kate comes to visit. She taunts, and teases, and seduces him. Her temptations are too great, and his fear of failure is too overwhelming, so Jeremy makes another pact to kill himself and marry his now dead fiancée. This decision is no easy task to complete as his life proceeds to get more complicated.

Jeremy’s narcissistic hedonist of a brother Eddie keeps trying to cure his doldrums to no avail. Jeremy also wants to finish his book before he departs so he takes an acting class to help him release his creative juices. It’s there that he meets his acting scene partner Chrissy. She comes with her own imposing wants and needs including a love of Jeremy’s least favorite author Anton Chekhov. Of course, the scene their working on is from Chekhov’s The Seagull. It’s not long before the dead fiancée becomes jealous and impatient. She not only keeps up her dream visits she also begins appearing in Jeremy’s apartment while he’s awake causing him much distress and added mayhem. On top of all that Chekhov also begins taking on a featured role in his dreams as mentor, advisor, author, and dramaturge.

Chekhov Dreams 2Dana Watkins as Jeremy has the makings of a good leading man. He pulls off the awkward, dazed and confused romantic, along with the tortured lover and author to be. Elizabeth Inghram as the deceased Kate does very well as mortal girlfriend, seductive spirit, and eventually manipulative evil queen. As Chrissy, the ingenue and Chekhov scene partner, Charlotte Stoiber embodies a hopeful somewhat naive actress in search of true meaning in her work and in matters of the heart.

Christian Ryan as Jeremy’s flawed, heavy drinking, chain smoking lothario of a brother is in fine comic form. His scenes bring a laugh filled breath of fresh air into each scene he appears in. Rik Walter as the legendary director and writer Anton Chekhov is every bit the stately, stern, and imposing dark genius one might expect but he brings with it a sassy comedic edge that is fun to watch.

As already mentioned the cast is a talented lot. While each player plays their part the problem with the ensemble is one of what appears to be nervous energy. No one seems to be able to be still. There’s constant unnecessary movement and in some cases unconscious mirroring of each other’s actions. There’s also that unwavering feeling of trying too hard to please. It’s not always the case. When they connect with themselves, the erratic material, and the house, the ensemble plays very well together but for the most part this is all a hit or miss affair.

In support of the production the design team set themselves some very ambitious goals and for the most part they achieve them. Costume designer Christina Giannini is well represented. Along with the needed every day wear of the characters that inhabit this world she’s able to shine with beautiful period costumes that make the dreams they have so vivid. Lighting designer Diana Duecker and sound designer John McKinney more than ably deliver on setting the mood and the tone for both the real and the surreal proceedings. Scenic designer Scott Aronow had the larger challenge of having to wrangle many settings into one multi-dimensional set. His solution and execution does work nicely even though it was a bit wobbly at times. An extra support here, an additional nail there, and this minor quibble is eliminated.

Chekhov Dreams 1All is not lost because there’s a gem of a show to be mined her but the excavation would have to go deep. Writer John McKinney and director Leslie Kincaid Burby could and should go back to the drawing boards on this one and uncover all that this script truly has to offer. There are warnings already built into this current version. In his dreamy appearances Chekhov warns of not using too many devices to advance the plot and yet he himself becomes one. He also warns that not everything is to be explained and yet that happens often in this production. Particularly in the fact that the play goes one scene too long for the sake of trying to wrap everything up with a neat bow. In fact, the entire show runs a bit too long. If the next incarnation were trimmed down to a tight intermissonless ninety minutes, as opposed to the overstuffed feeling of the current with an intermission two hour plus version, the entire company might find themselves with a dream worth having again.

Theatre Row
Beckett Theatre
410 West 42nd Street
www.chekhovdreams.com
(212) 239-6200
$44.25

Now Playing Through Feb 17, 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.




Edward Medina Author

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