Monday, November 25, 2019

Weekly Margin 2019, W47: The Dork Knight

11/21/19: The Dork Knight
What: Jason O'Connell's one man show about his obsession with the various film versions of Batman and how it's flavored his personal and professional life, presented as part of Primary Stages' festival.
And? I've been a fan of O'Connell's acting work since I saw his Ferrars brothers in Kate Hamill's Sense and Sensibility, so I was excited to see this work. It's entertaining and engaging, and his impressions are a good mix of spot on and hilarious (except, as he points out, his Catwoman, which leaves something to be desired). While I have reservations about 90 minute memoir solo shows (they tend to fall into the same traps of predictability and self-indulgence), this avoids most of the cliches and has a good payoff. There are no designers credited, but I will say that the lighting and scenic design were both pretty much perfect, for whoever did them.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Weekly Margin 2019, W46: Slava's Snowshow, Fear, Evita, The Underlying Chris

11/11/19: Slava's Snowshow
What: The New York return of magic.
And? The best way I can think to describe this show is that it's like being inside someone's whimsical dream. There's no real logic, but there is certainly dream logic, and that stream of consciousness takes us freely from a stage filled with bubbles while clown lip sync to "Blue Canary" to a a sea quest with a bed as a ship, to a giant cobweb, to umbrellas filled with snow, with the wind and music and the sound of trains. It's so completely delightful and wonderful, and I'm so happy I went. And I want to go back.

The "Blue Canary" sequence. Photo by Pamela Lajeunesse.

11/13/19: Fear
What: An 80 minute three-hander at the Lucille Lortel. A neighborhood girl is missing, and two men and a teenage boy engage in a battle of truth and fear in a shed.
And? I think it wants to be taut and tense with surprisingly psychological twists, but it is not. It is loose with muddy staging, and I kept wondering why the three of them stay in the shed as long as they do.

Obi Abili, Enrico Colantoni, and Alexander Garfin as Ethan, Phil, and Jamie.
Photo by Jeremy Daniel Photography.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Weekly Margin 2019, W45: Mean Girls, A Bright Room Called Day

11/06/19: Mean Girls
What: A musical adaptation of Tina Fey's hit film.
And? It was perfectly fine. It wasn't as bad as I worried it would be, based on the show's Tony performance, and the cast was overall very good, especially Kate Rockwell as Karen. The songs aren't memorable but the book is good. Production-wise, I think it relies too heavily on the digital walls, and the choreography is repetitive and uninteresting. But not bad for a Wednesday night in pink.

Ashley Park, Taylor Louderman, Kate Rockwell, and Erika Henningsen as
Gretchen, Regina, Karen, and Cady. Photo by Joan Marcus.

11/10/19: A Bright Room Called Day
What: The Public Theatre revives Tony Kushner's first play, about a group of artists in Weimar Germany, facing the rise of fascism. In this revised version of the text, Kushner himself becomes a character, attempting to fix what's wrong with his play.
And? I wanted to like it more than I did. It's impressive and ambitious, and one can see that it's the same voice that could produce the transportive Angels in America and Caroline, Or Change, but this is less cohesive than either of those, and the revisions to the interruptions don't feel fully formed yet, either in the writing or the performance. Zillah criticizes the playwright for not giving her a life outside the interruptions, and unfortunately that remains true here. There are some impressive performances, particularly Nikki M. James and Linda Emond and Nadine Malouf, though Grace Gummer seems out of her depth a lot of the time. I'm glad I got to finally see a play I'd only read (I've had the luck of that happening several times this year), but I can't say I got everything out of it that Kushner and Eustis wanted me to.

Jonathan Hadary, Nikki M. James, Michael Esper, and Crystal Lucas-Perry
as Xillah, Agnes Eggling, Vealtnine Husz, and Zillah. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Weekly Margin 2019, W44: Seared, An Enchanted April, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two

10/30/19: Seared
What: MCC presents Theresa Rebeck's new play about a temperamental chef in a boutique Brooklyn restaurant, on the verge of hitting the big time.
And? Sadly, like most of Rebeck's work, the play itself is a bit thin. It's not incompetent, but it's not compelling, and it never sticks to the ribs. Still, Moritz Von Stuelpnagel does a marvelous job directing the eye in this fast-paced kitchen, and I know they brought in actual consultants to teach the actors how to properly cook (or at least appear to properly cook) all the meals plated during the show. The big draw for me with this show was Raul Esparza as Harry the chef, and he did not disappoint. It's always immensely satisfying to watch someone do something really well, and with this performance we had Harry as master of his kitchen, and Esparza as master of his acting. We also had the wonderful W. Tre Davis as the restaurant's waiter/sous chef, and who ultimately had the most interesting character journey of the show. Is this a must-see? By no means. But it won't ruin your life.

Raul Esparza and W. Tre Davis as Harry and Rodney. Photo by Joan Marcus.

11/01/19: An Enchanted April
What: A musical adaptation of Elizabeth von Arnim's novel about four women from different backgrounds who agree to share the rental of a villa in Tuscany for the month of April.
And? While it is always thrilling to hear a company of actors sing beautifully and unmiked, this is a largely forgetting and unengaging affair.

11/03/19: Harry Potter and the  Cursed Child, Parts One and Two
a repeat visit. still magical. still a weak script, but still so magical.