Monday, November 22, 2021

Weekly Margin 2021, W47: Medicine, Baby, Caroline, or Change, Clyde's, Constellations

 11/18/21: Medicine
What: St. Ann's Warehouse presents the American premiere of Enda Walsh's play about, well, about what an Enda Walsh play is about.
And? This feels very much a companion piece to Misterman, in part because while I was engrossed in the journey and feeling empathy for a character in clear crisis as he attempts to untangle the threads of his experience and tell his story, I was also waiting in vain for a moment of clarity or epiphany that never came. But listen, knowing that that's what you're often in for with an Enda Walsh play means that, to paraphrase Lincoln, for those who like this sort of play, this is the sort of play they would like.

Aoife Duffin as Mary 1, with Clare Barrett as Mary 2 in background.
Photo by Jess Shurte.

11/20/21: Baby
What: Out of the Box Theatrics presents an intimate whitebox revival of the Maltby & Shire musical about three couples of different generations and their potential pregnancies, with an updated script (in collaboration with the original authors) to reflect contemporary times and a more diverse representation of society.
And? This production doesn't just talk the talk when it comes to representation. Not only has the middle couple been revised to two women of color (Danielle Summons as Pam and Jamila Sabares-Klemm as Nicki) trying to conceive via a sperm donor, but the younger couple are both people with disabilities (Johnny Link as Danny has moderate-to-severe sensorineural hearing loss and Elizabeth Flemming as Lizzie--also OOTB's Founding Producing Artistic Director--is visually impaired). Even the older couple has been aged up to reflect the performers, as well as highlight how much Arlene (Julia Murney) has deferred her own dreams in favor of raising four children. It's a beautiful thing when the writers are still around to help revise their script for a new society, both book and score. The book remains a bit clumsy--there's a lot of characters explaining to their partners who they are (including their marginalized identities), rather than character moves, and some character moves are never even dramatized (Danny's transformation during his three month tour), but I'm giving them a lot of credit for what they're trying to do, and the score--well, that score still sings. Theaterlab is an intimate whitebox space and the production is ably staged by Ethan Paulini for an alley audience configuration with only three hard-working ensemble members, and you don't miss a word or moment, no matter where you're sitting (seriously, excellent sound design by W. Alan Waters of DimlyWit Productions).  For the cast, Julia Murney and Danielle Summons are the most adept at the emotional heavy lifting (and comedic timing), as well as in wonderful voice, but truly there are no bad performances here.

The cast of Baby. Photo by Kyle Huey.

a repeat visit. We had Caroline's standby, Sharon Catherine Brown, who defies anyone claiming this revival is worth seeing only for Sharon D Clarke. The production is still wonderful, and SCB is absolutely terrific. I feel very grateful that I've now gotten to see three such amazing Caroline Thibodeaux in my lifetime (also: they fixed the moment in "Lot's Wife" I took issue with!) (also also: I somehow forgot the final beat of the show and gasped and cried again. that's some good theater)

11/21/21: Clyde's
What: 2nd Stage presents a new play from Lynn Nottage, about a greasy spoon diner staffed by ex-cons who all dream of crafting the perfect sandwich.
And? This was absolutely delightful! I think I expected something heavier, after Sweat (this play, no spoilers, does seem to serve as somewhat of a sequel, but with a vastly different tone). Clyde's may be the back kitchen of a greasy spoon frequented by truckers, but it's also a place where magic could occur, where one bite of the perfect sandwich could change everything, and where sometimes the door to the walk-in fridge is also a door to a beautiful greenhouse with the ripest and most perfect of vegetation. Led by a comically demonic Uzo Aduba as Clyde, and a charmingly sweet Ron Cephas Jones as dreamer and sandwich-maker extraordinaire Montrellous, the whole cast is superb, as is the show. What a treat.

Reza Salazar, Kara Young, Ron Cephas Jones and Edmund Donovan as
Rafael, Letitia, Montrellous, and Jason. Photo by Joan Marcus.

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