Monday, January 14, 2019

Weekly Margin 2019, W2: To Kill a Mockingbird, Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine, Choir Boy

1/09/19: To Kill a Mockingbird
A repeat visit with a friend. We were in the front row (which ended up being slightly partial view during the trial scenes due to scenic design/staging), and it was a treat to get a close look at the nuances of performance, especially when it wasn't a character meant to be in focus. I was particularly taken with Shona Tucker, who with no lines emulated fully crafted character work, as both a spectator at the trial and as Mrs. Henry Dubose's much put-upon maid (she also understudies Calpurnia), as well as Thomas Michael Hammond's Bailiff (he also understudies both Atticus Finch and the prosecuting attorney Horace Gilmer). I still have issues with some elements of the adaptation (particularly the fact that it's no longer Scout's story or journey; she's there to tell Atticus's journey), but it's a moving piece of theater.

1/10/19: Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine
What: Undine, a powerful PR entrepreneur who reinvented herself after college to remove any traces of her "ghetto" upbringing, must return home to her Brooklyn family when her con artist husband leaves her penniless and pregnant. Over the course of her gestation, she must reckon with the the lies she's told others and herself, and recognize what happiness can look like.
And? Glad I caught this before it closed. Fantastic performances, funny and moving, and a delightful showcase for the versatile cast as well as Montana Levi Blanco's costume design.

Cherise Boothe as Undine. Photo by Monique Carboni.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Weekly Margin 2019, W1: True West, Improvised Shakespeare

1/03/19: True West
What: Roundabout's revival of Sam Shepherd's play about two brothers--one a transient small-potatoes thief, the other a screenwriter--whose rivalry and estrangement come to a boil.
And? I was pretty bored by the show (but I've never really gotten Sam Shepard). Paul Dano was great, Ethan Hawke was better than expected. The set design was pretty good, but the lighting design employed a device I've been seeing a lot lately that I'm not too kicked on (a proscenium frame of lights that glare brightly between scenes to shrink the audience's pupils, to cover the set transitions). That device worked for me for The Father because it seemed to feed, and be fed off, the content of the story; I didn't see any form/content matching here.

Ethan Hawke and Paul Dano as Lee and Austin. Photo by Joan Marcus.

1/06/19: Improvised Shakespeare
What: A troupe of five players improvise a ninety-minute play in iambic pentameter (ish), based on a suggestion from the audience, using familiar Shakespearean tropes, style, and structure.
And? Another absolute delight, complete with a scene of badly-accented French soldiers hatching a plan in rhyme, an impression contest, way too many babies, and more in Laying An Egg.