Archive for July 2014

Facing Moral Dilemmas in a Crumbling Garage – NORTH OF THE BOULEVARD at CATF

Trip needs to get himself and his family ‘up north of the Boulevard’ to a more civilized neighborhood. Then an unexpected circumstance dumps an opportunity in Trip’s lap. The only problem is that, to take it, Trip would need to leave his integrity behind and possibly risk going to jail. Is getting north of the Boulevard worth it for Trip and his buddies? Does Trip even have a meaningful choice?

Insincere White Invitations, New Black Authenticity: THE ASHES UNDER GAIT CITY Premieres at CATF

This play, about a small group of black visionaries attempting to establish visibility in a white Oregon town which has excluded and disregarded them, is provocative but hard to follow.

Is There an I in Robot?: UNCANNY VALLEY at CATF

By the second decade of this century, AI is probably more of a party trick than a real presence (we don’t particularly mind having our computers and robots look and act like computers and robots), but Turing’s Test has long been passed, in a variety of ways. We are on to next steps: Thomas Gibbons’ new play Uncanny Valley explores what those steps are, and the philosophical, moral, and existential questions they pose.

An Overstuffed ONE NIGHT at CATF

There are the bones here of a perfectly respectable play about rape and what comes after in the U.S. military and veterans’ system. The play does a fine job of showing how command will undercharge the perpetrators and penalize victims; how urgent requests for veterans’ benefits will become lost in the system; and how the supposed advocates for the victims will be deadened by the way the system has made them ineffective. Perhaps more originally, there is a real exploration of the dynamics of military rape itself, of the question why rape is so prevalent in that environment. Frankly, I did not understand why playwright Fuller felt the need to revert to the revelation-of-dark-secrets template at all. A straightforward telling of the tale would have sufficed nicely.


Theater Reviews Page | Previous Theater Review | Next Theater Review Death By Tranny?: DEAD AND BREATHING at CATF Posted on July 14, 2014 The question is posed in the first few minutes of Chisa Hutchinson‘s Dead and Breathing: Can Carolyn, a wealthy black widow dying by inches of cancer, persuade Veronika, her at-home hospice nurse, to kill her? […]


The shows discussed here, brave and iconoclastic about sex, or mixing opera and cabaret, or presenting the opposition of plutocracy and philanthropy with theater piece tools, remind us how vital it is that the theater keep on giving us things we haven’t seen before, might not be comfortable watching, things that stun us and surprise us. I would go so far as to say that if theater ever stops giving us edgy work, it will cease to be theater. Here’s to edgy.

Missing from the Awlaki memo: Almost everything that really matters

Due process is flexible, in light of the circumstances. But what kind of meaningful trial could U.S. citizen and terror suspect Anwar Awlaki have received if the government were allowed to kill him first, and try him afterwards? Once you concede Awlaki had a due process interest in his life – and one always has a due process interest in one’s life – then a post-deprivation trial must by definition have failed the due process test. That test never yields a result where the amount of due process owed to the private citizen is zero, both before and after deprivation of the due process interest. That’s why death penalty appeals are so long and tortuous: if you don’t get it right before you execute the defendant, there is no opportunity to correct it.

Visiting the Ilyrian Casbah: Center Stage Does TWELFTH NIGHT Proud

The inspired choice at the heart of this beautiful realization of Shakespeare’s vision in Twelfth Night is the creation of Illyria, the neverland in which Shakespeare set the play. There was no Illyria in Shakespeare’s time, and really had been no such nation since Roman times. Whatever Shakespeare was going for, it was not constricted by any realities contemporary to him. This meant that director Gavin Witt was free in turn to fashion something that in 21st-Century terms would correspond to Shakespeare’s fantasy. And what he presents is a kind of amalgam of the Marx Brothers’ Freedonia and the Warner Brothers’ Casablanca. There are slinky evening gowns you might see at Rick’s Café Americain. There is a hat that echoes a fez. There is an outfit like a Greek soldier’s. Sebastian and Viola wear plus-fours and Norfolk jackets, topped with newsboy hats. The costumes, by designer David Burdick, all fit together and, together with the set by Josh Epstein which suggests a colonnaded white town overlooking the Adriatic (locus of the ancient Illyria), convey a world between the two World Wars. It is at once idyllic and dangerous.

CSC’s AS YOU LIKE IT: You’ll Like It Like That

Many of Shakespeare’s comedies are essentially love delivery vehicles, giddy confections that give the audience an extraordinarily broad license just to roll in the bliss of it. I think especially ofTwelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. But the most love-mad of all is surely As You Like It. And thankfully, that love-mad champagne feeling is served up nearly full-force in the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s latest rendering of the play.

Bumpy Landing

Life’s major transitions are often messy. When (halfway between two marriages) I finally gave up playing the field, that was a major transition. And majorly messy.