Lynn Nottage wanted to expose the plight of women in war-torn Congo. Could Mother Courage help? The Brooklyn writer talks to Nosheen Iqbal
Lynn Nottage is sitting in a tatty office at the Almeida theatre in London. The walls are lined with framed certificates, mementos of the theatre's triumphs at the Olivier and Critics Circle awards. It's a fitting spot to meet Nottage: the 45-year-old Brooklyn playwright is something of an award magnet herself.
(Lynn Nottage’s work is included in One on One: The Best Women’s Monologues for the 21st Century; One on One: The Best Men’s Monologues for the 21st Century; and Duo!: The Best Scenes for Two for the 21st Century—all from Applause Cinema and Theatre Books.)
(Charles Isherwood’s article appeared in The New York Times, 4/21.)
Stomping Onto Broadway With a Punk Temper Tantrum
Rage and love, those consuming emotions felt with a particularly acute pang in youth, all but burn up the stage in “American Idiot,” the thrillingly raucous and gorgeously wrought Broadway musical adapted from the blockbuster pop-punk album by Green Day.
Pop on Broadway, sure. But punk? Yes, indeed, and served straight up, with each sneering lyric and snarling riff in place. A stately old pile steps from the tourist-clogged Times Square might seem a strange place for the music of Green Day, and for theater this blunt, bold and aggressive in its attitude. Not to mention loud. But from the moment the curtain rises on a panorama of baleful youngsters at the venerable St. James Theater, where the show opened on Tuesday night, it’s clear that these kids are going to make themselves at home, even if it means tearing up the place in the process.
(Michael Feingold’s article appeared in the Village Voice, 4/20.)
Like the madwoman in the 1969 Off-Broadway musical Promenade, who thinks that two escaped convicts are her long-lost babies, I have to live with my own truth, whether you like it or not. And one truth I'm living with these days is that, for me at least, the Broadway musical is over as a phenomenon. The future of the American musical, such as it is, lies Off-Broadway. Experiments tried there may naturally dream of emigrating upward to the magic boulevard of pricey tickets. If they succeed, they'll carry with them the flickering memory of an entertainment genre that had, during seven or eight glittering decades of the 20th century, evolved into its own distinctive art form—inventive, free-spirited, and unlike anything else.
(Ben Brantley’s article appeared in the New York Times, 4/19.)
Squint, and the World Is Beautiful
Their plumage is wilting, their wigs are askew, and their bustiers keep slipping south to reveal unmistakably masculine chests. Yet the ladies of the chorus from “La Cage aux Folles” have never looked more appealing than they do in the warm, winning production that opened Sunday night at the Longacre Theater.
Terry Johnson’s inspired revival of Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein’s musical, starring a happily mismatched Kelsey Grammer and Douglas Hodge (in a bravura Broadway debut), delivers the unexpected lesson that in theater, shabby can be not just chic but redemptive. This deliberately disheveled show, incubated at the tiny hit-spawning Menier Chocolate Factory in London, is a far cry from the high-gloss original production of 1983 or the glamorous, soulless revival that opened less than six years ago.
(Henry Hitchings’s article appeared in Evening Standard, 4/16.)
Dining out with the repellent yet fascinating Bullingdon lite in Posh
To most people the phenomenon of the Oxbridge dining society seems about as real as a unicorn’s horn. The prospect of a government that features more than one alumnus of this gilded world feels distressingly weird.
In Laura Wade’s beautifully observed, very funny play, that world is anatomised. Her invention, the Riot Club, is a kind of Bullingdon lite — an Oxford coterie made up of minor aristos, landed yobs and foreign plutocrats.
“The Arsonists,” Alistair Beaton’s rousing new interpretation of Max Frisch’s 1958 classic, more commonly known as “Biedermann and the Firebugs,” stresses the comically deadly plight of a mild-mannered man whose failure to acknowledge the presence of evil is, in itself, the ultimate evil.