Monday, March 30, 2020

Weekly Margin 2020, W13: What We Lost, Whom We Lost, What Will Return

I'm not sure what to write for these at the moment. The instinct is to keep going, to keep producing something, if only a brief chronicle of what it is to be here right now. I'm sitting alone at home, in self-enforced quarantine because I'm 98% certain I caught COVID-19 (stay calm, I'm fine right now, I don't have a fever, I can breathe fine, yes I have people checking on me, and I love you too. Sidenote: losing your sense of smell is unnerving as hell). The times are strange, people are sick, people are jobless, people are scared. People are making art. People are dying.

Last week, the Broadway productions of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Hangmen announced that they would not be returning when this is over. Meanwhile some productions have elected to defer their runs to the fall season, including Lincoln Center's Intimate Apparel and Flying Over Sunset and Roundabout's Birthday Candles and Caroline, or Change. I note that the delayed-but-returning productions so far announced are produced by two of NY's biggest not-for-profit theater companies. Another not-for-profit, City Center Encores!, has canceled the remainder of its season, while NYTW and CSC are suspending but holding out hope to return. We don't yet know the fate of the majority of the commercial productions. Theater award ceremonies like the Tonys and the Outer Critics have delayed to unspecified dates. I'm sure there will continue to be further developments, and I'll try to chronicle them here.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Weekly Margin 2020, W12: What I Didn't See, and a Memory of Such Stuff

This week I was supposed to see The Minutes at Second Stage, Caroline or Change at Roundabout, and Love Life at City Center. While I'm still quietly holding out hope that I'll see Caroline eventually, I have no expectations for the others, and I'm glad everything's shut down to try to keep as many people safe as possible. For now, that has to be enough.

I keep thinking I should make my usual list of the Spring season, look into ticket lotteries, rush policies, their presence on tdf. Making this list has been on my To Do calendar for a few weeks. Now it seems like a task designed to invite more heartbreak, wondering which shows are never to be.

I thought instead of looking forward into an unknowable future, and with no current theater to discuss, perhaps I should look back further.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Weekly Margin 2020, W11: The Inheritance, Part Two

3/11/20: The Inheritance, Part Two
What was supposed to be just my own personal farewell to this gorgeous production became, retroactively, the show's closing night. Theater is shut down now for the duration, to stem the exponential spread of contagion. My heart breaks for performers and other people employed by the theater industry, for shows shut down, for productions postponed or canceled, for productions in that terrible limbo that don't know if they're merely postponed or fully canceled. I am sad for all of us, and hope that these measures do what they're meant to do, and that we can all get through this.

Theater is a place for people to come together. Right now part of that togetherness is agreeing to physical distance, for all our health. And at least we have the internet, the introvert's playground. To life, my friends. L'chaim.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Weekly Margin 2020, W10: Dracula, The Inheritance, Part One, Six, Anatomy of a Suicide

3/03/20: Dracula
What: Classic Stage Company presents Kate Hamill's new feminist take on Bram Stoker's novel.
And? Really pretty great take on the story, with a stellar cast, especially Jessica Frances Dukes as Van Helsing, Kelley Curran as Mina, Matthew Saldivar as Seward, and playwright Hamill as Renfield. Loved the costume design by Robert Perdziola, mixed feeling about the sound design by Leon Rothenberg (occasional moments of wtf-ery, but other moments, particularly transitions, which worked very well).

Kelley Curran, Jamie Ann Romero, and Jessica Frances Duke as Mina Harker,
Lucy Westenra, and Doctor Van Helsing. Photo by James Leynse.

3/05/20: The Inheritance, Part One
a repeat visit before the production ends

3/06/20: Six
What: A rock concert of six women who happened to have married Henry VIII.
And? I effing loved it. Great songs, great performers, kinetic staging. An absolute delight.

Abby Mueller, Samantha Pauly, Adrianna Hicks, Andrea Macasaet,
Brittney Mack, and Anna Uzele as Jane Seymour, Katherine Howard,
Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Anna of Cleves, and Catherine Parr.
Photo by Liz Lauren.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Weekly Margin 2020, W9: Twelfth Night, Hamlet, A Man of No Importance

2/27/20: Twelfth Night
What: Hamlet Isn't Dead is back at it!
And? Pure delight. Full review here.

Stephanie LaVardera and Mike Marcou as Countess Olivia and Sir Toby Belch.
Photo by Valerie Terranova.

2/29/20: Hamlet
What: St. Ann's Warehouse, in association with Kate Pakenham Gate Theatre Dublin, presents the Shakespearean heavyweight of dramas, starring Irish superstar Ruth Negga.
And? I'm really surprised to be writing this, but I was left mostly unmoved by this production. Ruth Negga was excellent as Hamlet, and Aoife Duffin heartbreaking as Ophelia, but for most of the first half, it felt like no one else onstage much cared what happened next. And the first half is nearly two hours. Claudius and Gertrude woke up a bit in the second half, and the last ten minutes of the show are breathtaking, but that's not enough ultimately, especially with a few questionable design choices (why the rain? why the plastic curtain? why the zombie moment?).

Ruth Negga, center, as Hamlet with company. Photo by Teddy Wolff.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Margin Notes: Twelfth Night

Photography by Valerie Terranova.
Twelfth Night

Seen on: Thursday, 2/27/20.
My grade: A

Plot and Background
Cast ashore after a shipwreck and mourning her twin brother whom she believes dead, Viola disguises herself as a young man to work for Count Orsino (whom she secretly loves) and delivers love missives from Orsino to Olivia, who finds herself falling for young Cesario/Viola. And we haven't even gotten to Malvolio, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Sebastian! Hamlet Isn't Dead brings its patented playful (and tuneful) bent to this beloved comedy.

What I Knew Beforehand
I've lost count of how many Hamlet Isn't Dead productions I've gotten to see and review over the years, and of course I also know Twelfth Night very well, having seen multiple productions of it.


Play: What a good good night at the theater. This production is a complete and utter delight, from pre-show to curtain call. HID is only getting better, and this is their strongest comedy yet. Their quick and playful style is so well-suited to the humor of the play, from the muttered asides to the live music to the determination to breathe life and energy into the text. Even the cast bios are a riot. Director James Rightmyer Jr. strikes a good balance between the hilarious antics of the clowns and the more poignant pain (and sweet reconciliation) of the two twins separated. I had such a delightfully good time at this show, often laughing embarrassingly loud. Definitely recommend catching this one while you can!