Posts Tagged ‘TheatreScene

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.




Edward Medina Author

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