Monday, September 30, 2019

Weekly Margin 2019, W39: The Lightning Thief - The Percy Jackson Musical, Caesar & Cleopatra, I Can't See, Terra Firma, Twelfth Night

9/23/19: The Lightning Thief - The Percy Jackson Musical
What: Broadway transfer of a new musical adaptation of the first book of the popular YA fantasy adventure series, about a teenage boy who discovers he's a demigod, and then gets framed for a theft that could lead to an all-out war among the pantheon of Greek gods.
And? I saw this in early previews, so I can hope that the things I'm about to complain about get better: I kept being blinded by the lights, and the sound mix was so bad that the orchestra kept overpowering the singers and I often couldn't hear or understand the lyrics. Unfortunately, both of these elements conspired to make me turn off fairly early on in the show. Although Percy's banter was enjoyably snarky, a lot of the other humor betrayed some laziness on the writers' part (guys, isn't it hilarious when a man wears a dress? isn't femininity by definition just so funny? also, making a crack about a musician ending up in the Underworld is playing to the Christian version of Hell much more than the Greek version, so that joke made no sense, and if it sounds like I'm nitpicking, guess what I was super annoyed that I couldn't understand 3/5 of what I was hearing, so this is what you get). Chris McCarrell as Percy and Jorrel Javier as Grover and Mr. D were both very funny (though again, diction and sound mix meant I missed a lot). Ryan Knowles as Chiron, Hades, Poseidon, and basically any rando the three adventurers met was a consistent delight. Also I liked the concept for Lee Savage's scenic design, but would have appreciated more textual integration.

Also I just realized that this year has three different incarnations of Hades on a New York stage (Hadestown and the Public Works run of Hercules being the other two), and that's kind of fun.

Jorrel Javier, Chris McCarrell, Kristin Stokes, and James Hayden Rodriguez as
Grover, Percy Jackson, Annabeth, and Ares. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

9/25/19: Caesar & Cleopatra
What: George Bernard Shaw's play about, well, Caesar and Cleopatra, a proto-Pygmalion. Presented by Gingold Theatrical Group.
And? Unfortunately distinctly unengaging as a production, though the design is appealing.

The cast of Caesar & Cleopatra. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

9/27/19: I Can't See
What: A new immersive horror experience from the minds of Timothy Haskell and Paul Smithyman, where audience members are blinded and wearing headphones, led through a story with all senses activated except sight, and with the instruction not to die.
And? Not nearly as traumatizing as another of their projects, This Is Real, thank goodness. I won't spoil any of the plot content for anyone intending to visit, but it's a cool experience, though the ending comes on faster than expected (the experience lasts about 45 minutes total). Afterward we met one of the creators, who explained his ethos behind these various experiences, and why he left the world of haunted houses for something more intimate and psychological.

9/28/19: Terra Firma
What: The COOP's inaugural production of a new play by Barbara Hammond, set in the not-so-distant future on an small naval defense platform which the three inhabitants have declared to be their sovereign nation, Terra Firma, and on which they intend to structure a society, when it seems they might be the only humans left alive on Earth.
And? There is potential to the play, I'll say that. There are moments of subtlety, hints of interesting ideas, mixed in among a somewhat Ionesco-meets-realism tone. But for the most part I'd say this play doesn't know what it is yet, and it certainly doesn't know how to end itself. It is nice, at least, to see NY theater indie favorites Tom O'Keefe and Andrus Nichols in action. I just wish I liked the play more.

Geraldo Rodriguez and Andrus Nichols as Roy and Queen. Photo by
Ashley Garrett Photography.

9/29/19: Twelfth Night
What: Red Monkey Theater Group's promenade production of Shakespeare's (imho) best comedy, presented this past weekend at Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum but upcoming at Cahill Theater.
And? Absolutely delightful. I knew about this production because my good and talented friend Abigail Getty is playing Malvolio, and I'm so glad I made the trek up to the Bronx to see this lean and playful production (and to see the very cool Bartow-Pell Mansion and its grounds). Highlights (in addition to Getty's austere and surprisingly giddy Malvolio) include Amy Frey's passionate and intelligent Viola, Emma Freeman's pleasantly rustic Feste, and Julie Thaxter-Gourlay's earthy and thoroughly soused Sir Toby Belch.

Amy Frey and Ariel Francoeur as Viola and Olivia.
Photo source.

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