(Charles Isherwood’s article appeared in The New York Times, 2/22.)
Last seen in sober work attire, with his nose buried in a book for about six hours, the protean actor Scott Shepherd appears in far more garish guises in the Wooster Group’s restless but surprisingly reverent production of “Vieux Carré,” a little-seen Tennessee Williams play in which the writer exhumes a macabre assortment of lonely ghosts from his youthful, desperate days in New Orleans in the late 1930s.
Mr. Shepherd, who played the narrator Nick Carraway in “Gatz,” the fall season’s acclaimed word-by-word enactment of “The Great Gatsby,” enters the darkened playing space at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in what might be called a state of faux tumescence. You hardly notice the dilapidated kimono robe or the frazzled gray fright wig that almost obscures the actor’s pale, angular features, for strapped to Mr. Shepherd’s waist is a rubber phallus that enters the room before he does.
(Michael Feingold’s article appeared in the Village Voice, 2/23.)
At every performance of Interviewing the Audience (Vineyard Theatre), Zach Helm summons three randomly chosen people onstage, one for each of the 60-minute show’s segments. I couldn’t help wondering if any of his interviewees had ever, in the course of their public chat, asked him for a date. I certainly thought about doing so: Helm, a suave, smiley, easy-on-the-eyes stringbean of a guy, seems just the kind of person to make you feel at ease in any situation, however intimate.
(Anna Burnside’s article appeared in the Independent, 2/22.)
Hollywood, the summer of 1960. In a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel are Marilyn Monroe and her husband, the playwright Arthur Miller. Next door, the golden couple of French cinema, Simone Signoret and her husband Yves Montand. Monroe and Montand are starring in the George Cukor movie, Let's Make Love. Miller and Monroe's unhappy marriage is reaching its endgame. He has rewritten the script for Let's Make Love and, after Gregory Peck, Cary Grant, Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner and Rock Hudson have all turned down the male lead, Miller suggests Montand, who starred in the French movie version of The Crucible.
Franz Woyzeck, a lowly soldier stationed in a provincial German town, is the father of an illegitimate child by his mistress Marie. He earns extra money for his family by performing menial jobs for his captain and agreeing to take part in medical experiments conducted by the regimental doctor. But then an act of betrayal shatters his brittle life. Written in 1837 but not performed until the early twentieth century, this shard-like unfinished play is now recognised as a major work, perhaps the first modern play, in that it argues that our lives are determined by social circumstance.
Woyzeck ….. Lee Ingleby Marie ….. Deborah McAndrew Drum Major ….. Derek Riddell Andres ….. Gerard Fletcher Margret ….. Becky Hindley Captain ….. Rob Pickavance Doctor ….. Jonathan Keeble Child ….. Perveen Hamilton
Original Music by Tom Lingard Produced by Gary Brown
Buchner was a political radical and an academic in natural sciences; he set out to write a political play in that he placed the common man as the central character. The script evolved in tandem with Büchner's research on the nervous system and cerebral lesions, together with his annotations of Spinoza, which he pursued to the day of his early death. But the play is more than a test case. It is a pyscho-drama that abolishes the hierarchy of suffering. The anti-hero may be inarticulate and he commits the most heinous crime but he is presented as a victim whose actions demand to be examined and understood. It has been claimed by both naturalists and expressionists.
(Scott Timberg’s article appeared in the LA Times, 2/20.)
At a distance, Martha Graham and Isamu Noguchi seem like very different creatures: The first was the product of a stern, Puritan-accented family from the mountains of Pennsylvania, the second was a Los Angeles-born, Japan-raised sculptor who strove in his work to unleash the energies of nature.
Choreographer Graham was an intense, sometimes-imposing figure who spoke in portentous aphorisms; sculptor Noguchi an often-elegant, even-tempered presence.
(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 2/19.)
Robert Lepage made his name internationally with The Dragons' Trilogy, created in 1985. Now he returns to the subject of the cultural collision of east and west in what he calls a spin-off rather than a sequel. As a two-hour, three-character piece, it is slimmer and subtler than its forbear; and, which is not always true of Lepage, it offers an ideal marriage of form and content.
(Scott Stiffler’s article appeared in the Villager, 2/17-2/24.)
You know how it is. You work six days a week, pouring your heart and soul and blood and sweat — and occasionally, on command, your tears — into everything you do. When you finally get a day off, all you want to do is…work.
Linda Lavin’s life would make for a very sad story indeed — if the work in question were some Dickensian task performed amidst deplorable conditions and bereft of thanks for a job well done.
Fortunately, the veteran stage entertainer is busy beyond comprehension (by choice). Her sweet reward — applause — is one that all of us should experience when we’ve shown up for work and done well what we’ve been hired to do. But until the day when everybody gets a standing ovation upon punching the clock at 5pm, we’ll just have to be happy for Lavin.
(Michael Billington’s article ran in the Guardian, 2/17.)
David Hare's play gets richer with time. Acclaimed in 1990 for its accurate portrait of a Church of England in crisis, it now seems a perfect metaphor for British institutional life. Presented as part of Sheffield's three-play Hare season, it could be about the tensions inside any hierarchical organisation, from a political party to a national newspaper.