Posts Tagged ‘Theater

06
Jun
18

BenDeLaCreme’s Inferno A-Go-Go: My Review

Inferno2_JasonRusso (1)Dante Alighieri’s epic 14th century poem The Divine Comedy is very much alive and swell at the Laurie Beechman Theatre and embodied in the luscious and multi talented form of television star and theatrical siren BenDeLaCreme. No worries though. This is not a dark and morose Hell. This is more like a Hell on wheels with a comically creative motor that blasts the fun right ‘atcha and leaves you thoroughly satiated in its wake but still wanting more.

For those not up on their religious studies, this great work tells the story of Dante’s journey through the afterlife. In the poem Hell is depicted as nine concentric circles of torment located within the Earth’s core. It is the realm of those who have rejected spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites or violence, or by perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice against their fellowmen. Or as our drag queen laureate tells us in her opening number “that’s what Wikipedia says” and she’s right. I looked it up.

In the poem Dante is guided by the ancient Roman poet Virgil. Not so for us. With writer, performer, and RuPaul’s Drag Race Miss Congeniality winner BenDeLaCreme as our tour guide, DeLa to her friends, followers, and admirers of which there were many in the house, we begin our journey through the underworld.

Inferno6_JasonRussoDeLa will take on many forms as we progress and her first is Carnal Cruise Line’s Cruise Director Carol. We board the naughty ship and make several stops and along the way we’ll encounter a bevy of wonderful characters. There are Furies, Centaurs, a messenger from God, a harpy, an unforgettable femme by the name of Indulgence Gluttington, and after having traveled down all nine suffer rings we even meet Satan himself. All of these are performed live, or on truly well produced rear projections, or even as puppets by DeLa’s alter ego Benjamin Putman. I almost dare not mention his name for fear of ruining the illusion but let’s give credit where credit is due. Ben and DeLa meld together into a consummate singularity of entertainment perfection.

Between the musical numbers, the multiple live characters, the costume changes, the puppets, the characters she plays on the screen, and her flawlessly timed interactions with her prerecorded selves BenDeLaCreme’s working her well rounded keister off and yet the show appears to be sublimely effortless. DeLa is without a doubt a smart, funny, vivacious, sultry, devilishly playful, and remarkably talented tour guide and Inferno A-Go-Go is her wildly entertaining drag show domain. As an allegory, The Devine Comedy represents the journey of the soul towards God and enlightenment. Whether or not God, or the Devil, are in the details you will most definitely leave this trippy theatrical sojourn uplifted.

Laurie Beechman Theatre
407 W 42nd St
New York, NY 10036
212.695.6909
web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/959376
May 24 – June 3
25 – $50

Edward Medina is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) and welcomes comments at EdwardMedinaAuthor@gmail.com.

From an original post on TheaterScene.

All photo credits Richard Termine.

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 TheatreReviewNYC, 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 Dramatists Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Horror Writers Association.

02
Jun
18

There’s Blood at the Wedding: My Review

There's Blood at the Wedding 1As the sun set on yet another day when a gunman opened fire in a school on American soil the company of There’s Blood at the Wedding began their performance at La Mama ETC’s Ellen Stewart Theatre. Death by gunfire has become so pervasive in our society that these occurrences are categorized in a myriad of ways. This deeply moving, and at times, rightfully disturbing production seeks to address and present needless civilian deaths at the point of a police officer’s gun, or sometimes at the whims of their violent tactics. What is perhaps most chilling is that the thirteen vignettes that comprise this one hour entertainment represent just a mere drop in the bloody bucket we all bear.

Several forms of puppetry are blended together to present these stories and drive the point home. There are oversized full body puppets, shadow puppets, marionettes, and even the Japanese style of Bunraku puppetry, where the fully visible puppeteer manipulates the puppet figure in a seamless union of performer and character. The main artistic device though are large performing books that unfold with each story presented within. Developed just for this production these oversize books each contain their own unique storytelling methods. In this way, along with haunting music, poetic verse, and dance macabre the tragic stories of hapless victims like Sean Bell, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Justine Damand, and Amadou Diallo are all brought to brief life.

There's Blood at the Wedding 2Puppetry has a long history of being a vehicle for political discourse. From ancient Egypt, early Europe, and through our modern-day world puppets can be found expressing and communicating what others find to be uncomfortable or unspeakable. Puppets and their puppeteers and the messages they wish to convey also tend to flourish when times become oppressive and freedom of speech is restricted. The various forms of the puppetry arts have at times remained a singular form of dissent rejecting the doctrines imposed on their human counterparts. There’s Blood at the Wedding exalts the art form further in its mission to prove itself more than just a device for entertaining children.

Having created, designed, and directed the overall production, Theodora Skipitares has lead an exemplary team of puppeteers, puppet builders, scenic designers, composers, musicians, singers, and performers in a remarkable piece of dark theatrical magic. These gifted artists working together bring about a synergy of creative mastery and social commentary that is impossible to ignore and inconceivable not to be impacted by. This is a company of expert craftsman at the start of their creative journeys together and one can only hope to see more of their collaborations in the future and in Ms. Skipitares there are definite reflections of producer, director, playwright, author, and puppeteer Julie Taymor at the beginning of her illustrious career.

There's Blood at the Wedding 3Based on the recommendation of the American Theater Critics Association, La Mama Experimental Theatre Club will be this year’s recipient of the Special Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. This honor is given to theatre companies that have displayed a continuous level of artistic achievement contributing to the growth of theatre nationally. There’s Blood at the Wedding is a perfect example of why La Mama is so deserving of this special award and why this bold and exemplary production is more than worthy of your attention.

La MaMa
Ellen Stewart Theatre
66 E 4th Street
New York, NY 10003
212.254.6468
http://lamama.org/songs_for_lorca/
May 17 – June 3, 2018
$25

Edward Medina is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) and welcomes comments at EdwardMedinaAuthor@gmail.com.

From an original post on TheaterScene.

All photo credits Richard Termine.

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 Dramatists Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Horror Writers Association.

02
Jun
18

Devil of Choice: My Review

Devil of Coice 1Chemistry is key in any play detailing the perils and pitfalls of human relations and relationships. There must be a synergy of character, style, and purpose to make all our foibles seem real and viable in a dramatic form. Devil of Choice is a sexually charged, tense yet funny, menage-a-trois of strong acting, crisp writing, and well finessed directing that makes for a very satisfying theatrical affair. This world premiere production on stage at the Cherry Lane Theatre, and presented by the Labyrinth Theater Company, is an exceptional piece of work that studies what makes us tick, both good and bad, in the world of human nature and in the midst of lust filled passion. The story takes place in the constrained world of academia and revolves around the academics that are caged within it.

Our characters all work at the local university somewhere in the middle of the country where identities and secrets can easily get lost in the everyday doldrums and the wants and desires that bubble just beneath their polished surfaces. Sal is a very popular literature professor teaching Goethe’s Faust. The devil is in the good hands of this charismatic teacher who basks in the adoration of his pupils. Sal’s dragged his wife Pepper, a former violinist who now works in the school’s music library, with him to his new posting. Pepper is devoted to Sal and he likes it that way. But it isn’t long before Sal finds his mistress. The next in what has probably been a long line of them. Delia is one of the college’s administrators. All three of them are bound together by work and play as Sal insists that the two woman become friends. Thus locked in a triangle, the games begin.

Devil of Choice 2This world revolves around Sal and David Zayas gives a powerful and commanding performance as the misogynistic Don Juan of the hallowed halls. He doesn’t just walk the stage, he prowls. He doesn’t just speak, he orates. He doesn’t just seduce, he takes. One could accuse him of sucking the oxygen out of the room by his shear presence but he always leaves just enough to give you one last gasp. You want to hate him but you just can’t.

Elizabeth Canavan as Pepper is the dark horse here. This is a character that could easily be lost as just the typical unfortunate wife. In her estimable hands Pepper is a sad yet oddly happy woman in that quirky way that you know hides so much loneliness and pain just below the surface. She gives, and Sal takes, and he takes, but Pepper doesn’t take that for too long. Her own will finds its way back as she uncovers the hidden truths and lies of her marriage.

Florencia Lozano’s performance is sexy. Her Delia has the brains to go with the body. She also has the skill sets to go toe to toe with Sal. As the seduction plays out it’s interesting to watch as she reels Sal in while giving him the illusion of control. Sadly poor Delia is not that all together herself. She suffers from wanting more, and wanting more from Sal is a complicated thing.

Devil of Choice 3This fast moving ninety-minute freight train filled with emotional baggage is written by Maggie Diaz Bofil and make no mistake about it she is in control of her characters and her audience from the moment the lights go dark and the first words are spoken. This is a writer whose transitions are smooth as silk as she moves from very comic moments to real, heartfelt, and tragic revelations. She has several tricks up her sleeve to make that happen.

Sal’s lectures, given directly to the audience, in which he demands your participation with a dark charm and confident knowledge of his subject draw you in closer and closer. It’s a trap to make you like him and she sets it up beautifully. Her women are real. They’re very funny. They’re also broken but they’re stronger in the broken places. You can identify with them and when the time comes you realize that while Ms. Bofil has given the power to Sal, it’s the women that are ultimately the one’s in control. She’s also given us a fourth character in the form of violinist Melisa McGregor. A constant bathed in red light upstage right presence whose music drives the story along through the twenty or so scenes that tell this story. The music of the violin and the rhythm of the words stitch everything together seamlessly.

All of this is under the slick and stylish direction of Shira Lee Shalit. There’s a lot to rein in and it’s all assuredly done. She is yet another woman in this predominantly female driven production that manages to keep all things in balance. There is very delicate work being done here. This is a play that could have easily turned into an over the top, mansplaining, weak woman as victims free for all mess. This director, this writer, these actors, and their production team have made sure that Devil of Choice is a superbly acted play of substance that revels in the devils we all face.

Cherry Lane Theatre
38 Commerce Street
New York, NY 10014
www.cherrylanetheatre.org/onstage/devil-of-choice/
212.989.2020
May 23rd– June 9th
$20

Edward Medina is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) and welcomes comments at EdwardMedinaAuthor@gmail.com.

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 Dramatists Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Horror Writers Association.

02
May
18

Randy Writes A Novel: My Review

Randy Writes A Novel 1Randy has written a novel and he wants to read it to you. Actually, he needs to read it to you. He’s slaved and labored and sacrificed to get it done and he wants to make sure it’s just right. He wants to know if it qualifies as art. He must know if it measures up to the great authors that have come before him and even the ones that will come after him. His search for artistic perfection is his main driving force. So much so that he’s not even sure that his art exists whether he reads it out loud or not. He even questions if you just knowing he wrote something is enough to mark his work as artistically sublime. He wonders if he really needs to read it to you at all. This drives Randy’s existential dilemma. It’s why Randy continues to distract himself from the task at hand.

Randy is a puppet. A very self-aware puppet in fact. Not only that, he’s a puppet on a hysterically funny journey to discover the meaning of life and all its peculiarities. He wants to know what makes us all tick. Randy is alone for the entire ninety-minute mind trip onstage at Theatre Row’s Clurman Theatre. He’s at his desk, well used  typewriter to his right, continually unread manuscript to his left, and strewn all around the floor are chaotic piles of books and torn and crumpled papers. Randy’s been hard at work and his mind is a buzz with thoughts he must express. All of Randy’s work pays off in a very funny evening of outright truths, blatant lies, broad exaggerations, and accurate observations

An evening with Randy is a combination of stand-up comedy and puppetry. It’s both wildly improvised and intelligently scripted. You’ll find yourself literally howling with laughter. Randy encourages that. He loves his audience to shout back at him, question his observations, and articulate their own opinions. The whole evening becomes a riotous amalgamation of master puppet and willing audience. You’ll find yourself laughing through riffs on Harper Lee’s other book, a three-and-a-half-minute condensed version on the life of Ernest Hemingway that blossoms into a remarkably funny yet astute conversation on the value of art versus character. You’ll also find social commentary being delivered on subjects like Veganism versus Carnism and there’s a Craig’s List story that will have you doubled over with an ending you will never forget. All this and more while Randy struggles and keeps stalling the reading of his presumably epic creation.

Randy’s own puppet master is a mystery. Whoever it is doesn’t want you to know because it doesn’t matter. Randy is Randy. He’s his own man with his own thoughts. Randy has been lauded and acclaimed. He’s travelled the world presenting and perfecting himself before many an adoring crowd. Before arriving in New York, he toured the country in order to understand his American fans better. The puppet has done his homework. Randy himself will tell you that what he’s presenting on stage is an anthropological social experiment and one helluva good time. As always Randy, a philosopher in fabric and flock, is more than right.

Clurman Theatre
Theatre Row
410 W 42nd St
New York, NY 10036
212.239.6200
http://randywritesanovel.com/
$81.25
April 18 – June 9, 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.

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.

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.




Edward Medina Author

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