Archive for the ‘The Close Up’ Category

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.


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.

Mocking a Personality Cult: PUTIN ON ICE at Single Carrot

In a short 2016 profile in American Theatre, Russian emigre director Yury Ornov expounded on the freedoms of theater: ‘You can hate people; you can do a hate show about Putin, for example, or about your ex-wife.’ It seems that Lola B. Pierson’s Putin On Ice (That Isn’t the Real Title of This Show) is the hate show about Putin that Urnov, a close associate of Pierson through Baltimore’s Acme Corporation, had in mind. (That said, Genevieve de Mahy, the Artistic Director of Single Carrot Theatre, on whose premises that show, a joint production with the Acme Corporation, is now playing, claims in a program note that the idea came from Single Carrot.) In the same profile just mentioned, Ornov emphasized how important and liberating it was to laugh at the things that distress us. Putin On Ice is nothing if not funny, though, as my companion on press night pointed out, there was a risk, throughout most of the show, that the laughs would ultimately obscure the seriousness and the threat of its subject.

Literary Lovers, or Just Canny Operators?: SEX WITH STRANGERS at FPCT Makes You Decide

The play will certainly keep challenging you the way a puzzle does. It begins, no doubt portentously, with a question that it never completely answers (Olivia to Ethan ‘Who are you?’) and it ends with deliberate lack of clarity over whether the characters have any future. In short, this is theater which keeps the audience on its toes, no matter what label you slap on it.

A Work Song Becomes A Play: BERTA, BERTA at Contemporary American Theater Festival

Bianca Laverne Jones gives us a Berta a man would want to compose a song about. Her face, her eyes, the modulations of her voice, like the song Berta, Berta itself, communicate so much more than the lines she delivers. “Berta is a voluptuous, stately Black woman with a striking countenance,” say the directions. Just so.

Delicious Fun in THE CAKE at Contemporary American Theater Festival

It is plain that Della’s resolution of the issue whether to bake a cake for Jen’s same-sex wedding will call for a gingerly reassessment of her faith and her life. Realistically, it will not be solved wholesale by Della’s discarding of her allegiance to what Macy dismisses as ‘a book that’s thousands of years old.’ If Della is to find a way, it will require more subtlety and compromise.