Thursday, July 25, 2013


It was 9:45 pm. Hardly witching hour, but still dark out. I was walking up 8th Avenue to meet a friend, reading twitter on my phone. A man I didn't know fell into step beside me.

"I just thought you should know, you look very attractive in that outfit."

I spared a side glance at him, didn't break my stride, then replied while looking at my phone, "I just thought you should know, that makes me uncomfortable."

Now, as NYC catcalling goes, as pedestrian sexual harassment goes, this was fairly mild. Polite, even. So I replied politely but firmly that this wasn't great behavior on his part.

"You can just take the compliment." Again, not an aggressive tone, but he's pressing the issue when he should back away.

"Yes, but you don't know me and I don't know you and so it makes me uncomfortable."

He said something else but I peeled away into a u-turn to cross the street, and I didn't hear it.

Here's the thing - I believe he didn't mean anything cruel by it. He didn't cuss me out. He didn't corner me against a wall. He wasn't a potential rapist. He didn't even call me a bitch (that I'm aware). But he also didn't realize that even what he did was inappropriate, was a quiet form of harassment.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Talking Heads: A Lovely Night of Melancholy

Talking Heads (series 2), by Alan Bennett. Directed by Paula D'Alessandris. Starring Tom Patrick Stephens, Amy Scanlon, and Fiona Walsh. Currently running at The Secret Theatre through July 27th, 2013.

There's rarely any money in Off-Off-Broadway theatre. They do it for love, we see it for love. Sometimes companies can produce fascinating spectacles with small budgets. And sometimes they rely on the two tenets of storytelling which are truly vital to having a good theatrical experience - the story being told and the ones telling the story - the writing and the actors and director. The Secret Theatre's and Mind the Gap's production of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads has no budget and no spectacle; the actors move their own furniture and props and there are no elaborate stage pictures. But what it has in spades is good stories being told by good storytellers - and so, with very little fanfare, we have a moving and funny night a the theatre.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Finding the Funny at The Explorers Club

David Furr and Lorenzo Pisoni as Harry Percy and
Lucius Fretway. Photo by Joan Marcus.
The Explorers Club, by Nell Benjamin. Directed by Marc Bruni. Starring Jennifer Westfeldt, Lorenzo Pisoni, and David Furr. Currently running at Manhattan Theatre Club, City Center Stage 1 through August 4th, 2013.

The Explorers Club, a new play by Nell Benjamin, is a sparkling love letter to old-school British farce. It's a lushly-designed one-set play stuffed to the walls with eccentric characters, chaotic misunderstandings, slapstick, wordplay, and one or two mistaken identities and impersonations.

The play opens in London, 1879, with a meeting of the members of this exclusive Explorers Club, where our timid and clumsy hero, Lucius (Lorenzo Pisoni), proposes the admission of the club's first female, Phyllida Spotte-Hume (Jennifer Westfeldt). Met with responses varying from oblivious geniality to outright moral indignation - John McMartin, perpetually clutching his bible as the doddering Professor Sloane, is particularly scandalized by the notion - Phyllida soon wins the rest of the members over with the presentation of Luigi, a member of an elusive tribe from a hitherto lost city. However, after a disastrous introduction to the Queen (Luigi's traditional manner of greeting is slapping the other in the face), the club soon finds itself under siege by not just Her Majesty's army, but also a mob of angry Irishmen and a group of monks who can kick people's heads off. Things are looking pretty dire, as vines of Lucius's latest plant discovery climb the walls and railings of the club.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Fear and Self-Loathing in The Cradle Will Rock

Martin Moran, Anika Noni Rose, and
Henry Stram perform "Art for Art's Sake."
Photo by Joan Marcus.
The Cradle Will Rock, by Marc Blitzstein. Directed by Sam Gold, choreographed by Chase Brock. Starring Anika Noni Rose, Danny Burstein, and Raul Esparza. Currently running at New York City Center through July 13th, 2013.

There's something peculiar going on when the actors at City Center Encores! are better dressed than the audiences. Particularly when the show is about the organization of a steel workers' union, and the characters include the union organizer, a vagrant former pharmacist, and a prostitute.

The Cradle Will Rock, perhaps better known for the attempts to block its initial performance in 1937 (dramatized in Tim Robbins' 1999 film Cradle Will Rock) than for any actual merit as a piece of theater, is presented here, in all its Brechtian atonal glory, with very few frills or elaborate staging - an appropriate choice both for Blitzstein's text as well as for the concert setting - and so each choice made by director Sam Gold is as strong a statement as the names of Blitzstein's characters: Larry Foreman, Mr. Mister, Joe Worker, Editor Daily.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Previously on ...Nobody Loves You

Heath Calvert as suave but clueless host Byron
and the cast of Nobody Loves You. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Nobody Loves You, by Itamar Moses and Gaby Alter. Directed by Michelle Tattenbaum, choreographed by Mandy Moore. Starring Bryan Fenkart and Aleque Reid. Opening July 18th, currently running at Second Stage Theatre through August 11th, 2013.

The Bachelor, Love Connection, Boy Meets Boy - we've all seen the reality shows. A hodgepodge collection of contestants deemed interesting or strange enough (and willing enough to subject themselves to a reality competition for love) living together in a house full of cameras and hijinks. We know it's not real and wonder if the contestants know, too. We watch, we mock, and we live-tweet. So what happens when one of the heaviest detractors of reality dating shows lands himself a role on one of them?