Photo by Don Kellogg

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Clever Little Lies

Joe DiPietro has penned a remarkable little gem currently running off-Broadway at the Westside Theatre.  It's a clever title because as it turns out not everything that plays out is one.

The incorporable Marlo Thomas headlines the cast as Alice, the matriarch of the family.  Her son Billy (George Merrick) is having a bit of a marital/midlife crisis by having an affair with someone he thinks makes his whole life brighter and worth living again.  This happens, of course, after he just had a newborn baby with his wife Jane (Kate Weatherhead).   He reluctantly confides this little nugget to his father, Bill, Sr. (Greg Mullavey) who of course won't be able to keep it from his wife for more than 3 minutes.  Alice decides to invite Billy and Jane over to sort the whole matter out and keep them together.  She just can't bear to think about the alternative.

What ensures is anything but a clever little lie.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Spring Awakening

Investing in Broadway and an exciting and risky business.  I am hoping my latest investment will attract a new audience to the theater and at the same time entertain existing ones.  I always look for something artistic, entertaining, and unique.  This show is about children who aren't heard.  Bringing the deaf actors from Deaf West Theater Company into the picture ads an a layer of emotion and depth that previously did not exist.

I hope I am correct.  Here are what others are saying on Opening Night:

am New York

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Christians

Lucas Hnath just might have hit the nail squarely on the head with his new provocative and thought provoking work, The Christians now playing over at Playwrights Horizons.

Mr. Hnath was supposed to be a preacher but he felt too much weight of the souls of others on his back.  What he kept with him as he transitioned to a playwright instead was a keen ear for the preacher's sermon and the delivery of a message.

Andrew Garman (Pastor Paul) makes you truly believe he is a devout and earnest preacher. Joshua, the associate pastor (Larry Powell), takes some time to show his power but when he does in a 1:1 confrontation with Paul it's all guns blazing.  An unexpected and potent foil to Paul is Emily Donahoe (Jenny) a simple, common choir member who confronts his message with plain spoken yet biting words.

Words have meaning.  Words are translated and interpreted.  So many viewpoints.  So many opinions.  Who is right?  Is anyone wrong?  If you don't believe what I believe, can we survive together?  These and many other powerful issues are bright up and laid bare before the audience with tender, thoughtful, and intelligent dialogue.  There are many question.  And even more answers.

It's not very often that at the end of the play you really wished the playwright would come out and take a bow but this is one true exception.  His words were a certainly a palpable placeholder for his physical presence.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Old Times

I'm going zero for two here.  This time a 70 minute Harold Pinter play.  I'm all for a mysterious and mesmerizing evening in the theatre, but this play is just flat out obtuse.

The all-British cast (Clive Owen, Eve Best, Kelly Reilly) may add allure and mystery with their fancy accents, but they do nothing for the confounding plot.  I mean it was purposely written to confound and leave the average viewer with a feeling they have no idea what just happened.   I can verify this as I left the American Airlines Theatre and listened to at least 90% of the audience as they shook their head and asked questions like "what just happened here?".  Not being satisfied with these remarks, I went home and read the Wikipedia page about the show and was astounded at what the "experts" purported was going on.  Really?  Was that what we just saw?

Kudos to Christine Jones (sets) and Japhy Weideman (lighting).

I'm all for hoity-toity theatre but this was work neither entertaining nor satisfying for the majority of the audience.  I hope the rest of your 50th Anniversary season is better than this, Roundabout.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Fool for Love

For the opening installment of the fall semester of the 2015/2016 season it certainly was in line with my expectations of the overall season - and that would be crappy.  

Fool for Love is Sam Shepard's existing 1985 work which has seen a life on stage and in film before.

It's a cavernous and lonely piece.  It purposely tells you only part of the story leaving you to figure out or just assume the rest.   It's a smart work, but in performance doesn't quite fulfill it's promise and leaves you with more questions and uncertainties than the steep price of the ticket should permit.

Fine performances by Nina Arianda (May) and Sam Rockwell (Eddie).  A handsome Tom Pelphrey rounds out the performances near the end as Martin.  The Old Man (is he dead or alive?) was played with a stoic, lifeless Gordon Joseph Weiss.   Interesting and artistic, yes.  Satisfying, No.