Archive for the ‘Theater Reviews and Commentary’ Category

Dazzling and Uplifting INDECENT at Center Stage

Indecent is about the power of theater to dazzle and uplift. Playwright Vogel has discussed plays that make the hair stand up on her neck. That is exactly what Indecent does: makes the hairs stand up on the back of the neck, and we may be at a loss to explain.

Fathers, Sons, and Dynastic Struggle: HENRY IV, PART I at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company

Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part I (1597), now being revived by the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, is at its heart a family story. It certainly bears the traditional characteristics of Shakespeare’s history plays, but it is, first and foremost, a story of two fathers and two sons, and only secondarily about dynastic struggles.

Inspired Self-Parody: CYMBELINE at Baltimore Shakespeare Factory

The play seems to be a retrospective of Shakespeare’s career, with a strong note of self-parody. And with a playwright as fecund as Shakespeare, a ‘greatest hits album’ would have to be full to bursting. And so that’s what Cymbeline is: a ‘greatest hits’ that refuses to take itself seriously, and invites us to participate in Shakespeare’s gentle laugh at himself.

A Rewarding and Ambitious JERUSALEM at Fells Point Corner Theatre

Even though sometimes funny, even to the extent of farce, and filled with a manic vitality, Jerusalem is not easy theater, but it is infinitely rewarding. It will be surely be one of the most ambitious shows local audiences see in this new year.

Don’t Miss MISS SAIGON at the Kennedy Center

This is an excellent contribution to the canon of operatic musicals, richly melodramatic, beautifully acted and sung, with outstanding production values (yes, there is a helicopter!), and intelligent about the effects of war, and intelligent too about the particular clash of cultures that the war in Vietnam effectuated.

A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE at Scena Theatre

I suspect that the choice to do more of a Wilde fantasia than a Wilde play was as carefully deliberated as any other. Perhaps, because the play is so defective in its conception, the impulse was just to mess with it and see what happens. Even Homer nods – and when Wilde does (as he certainly did here), maybe all bets should be off.

‘Not Entirely Honest’ an Understatement in REP Stage’s Obscure But Funny THINGS THAT ARE ROUND

While basic questions about what the characters are doing or why are never fully resolved (nor do they need to be), the debatable and sometimes contradictory answers each character gives to these questions form the basis of a relationship that dramatically and comically changes as the play progresses.

Drinking from a Firehose with STICK FLY at Fells Point Corner Theatre

Audiences should approach Stick Fly, with the expectation that they will not understand all of it, fully grasp any character’s motives or thoughts and/or playwright Lydia R. Diamond’s position on many of the issues she aerates – and that that’s okay. The fun is in just watching it happen.

SPRING AWAKENING Well-Sung and Well-Performed by Stillpointe

With acting and singing at this level, and with such a strong, moving work, this rendering of Spring Awakening packs a punch, and will reward any evening’s theater-going.

Judith Ivey Enjoyably Gives Us CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF As A Love Story at Center Stage

Because Williams has so successfully gotten us cheering for Maggie, we in the audience would very much like to see Maggie triumphantly dragging Brick into bed in the final frame, and an interpretation like director Judith Ivey’s, which all but promises that, is bound to be a crowd-pleaser. But if a director chooses to make that easy initial choice, that will be about the last easy thing the director will find in this play.