(Terry Teachout’s article appeared in the Wall Street Journal 9/30.)
Lanford Wilson was big in the '70s and '80s, but the author of "The Hot l Baltimore" and "Talley's Folly" had largely faded from view by the time of his death in March. It's been ages since a Wilson play received a high-profile production in New York, and three years since I last reviewed one anywhere in America. For this reason, Keen Company's Off-Broadway revival of "Lemon Sky" is an occasion of no small consequence, an opportunity to take a second look at a once-admired playwright who has fallen out of fashion–and the news is good. Not only does "Lemon Sky" turn out to be a play of exceptional quality, but Jonathan Silverstein's production is an extraordinarily strong and finely acted piece of work.
(Alfred Hicklings’article appeared in the Guardian, 9/27.)
There are pleasanter – and shorter – plays than Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? But a good production, which David Thacker's certainly is, becomes an almost spiritual experience: an alcoholic immersion from which you emerge feeling shriven. Edward Albee's concept is simple. Disaffected college professor George and his vituperative wife Martha roll home late one night from a faculty party, bringing with them a younger couple, Nick and Honey, in the spirit that a cat might drag a half-eaten mouse in off the lawn. What follows is an excruciating game of charades with self-explanatory names such as "humiliate the hosts", "hump the hostess" and "get the guests".
(Adam Feldman’s article appeared in Time Out New York, 9/23.)
One of my happiest surprises at the theater in recent memory is The Life and Death of King John, the extraordinary inaugural production of a troupe called New York Shakespeare Exchange. I went to see the play, I must confess, with trepidation in my heart; my principal motive was to see this rarely produced history onstage for the first time. But King John, adapted and directed by Ross Williams, does much more than fill a blank spot on a Shakespeare completist’s checklist. Boldly illuminating the obscurities of the text—the play is a litany of intra-aristocratic squabbles about royal succession at the turn of the 13th century—Williams has fashioned a lucid, red-blooded and engaging account of loyalty, luck and medieval realpolitik.
(Dominic Cavendish's article appeared in the Telegraph, 9/23.)
Way Upstream is the Alan Ayckbourn play which, for all its evident popularity, almost drowned in a tidal wave of negative publicity when it transferred, after a successful Scarborough run in 1981, to the National Theatre the following year.
The huge technical demands of the piece – set on a small cabin-cruiser heading up the River Orb to “Armageddon Bridge” – proved too much when the production was scaled up: 6,000 gallons of water cascaded into the building during previews when the boat hit and split the set’s fibre-glass tank. The press had a field-day .
(John Garnaut’s article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, 9/27.)
China's most successful piece of contemporary theatre, Rhinoceros in Love, grew out of the dreams and absurdity of Beijing campus life in 1989.
"We were passionate students," says the play's director, Meng Jingjie. "We had ideals, ideals of destruction, of overturning old concepts, but we also felt lost. That was a beautiful time of one's youth. Even now, I can see the grass fields, the lamps and the faces of young students at the Central Academy of Drama."
James Lantz wrote this play, in which two small-town gay teen-age boys become embroiled in a tussle between a church and a gas station. John Simpkins directs. Previews begin Oct. 4. (59E59, at 59 E. 59th St. 212-279-4200.)
DREAMS OF FLYING DREAMS OF FALLING
Atlantic Theatre Company presents a new play by Adam Rapp, about the private lives of two wealthy Connecticut families. Neil Pepe directs. In previews. Opens Oct. 3. (Classic Stage Company, 136 E. 13th St. 212-279-4200.)
Mark Brokaw directs the world première of this play by Nicky Silver, starring Linda Lavin and Dick Latessa, in which a group of family members learn about themselves when they gather around their dying patriarch. In previews. (Vineyard, 108 E. 15th St. 212-353-0303.)
MAN AND BOY
Frank Langella returns to Broadway in this drama by Terence Rattigan from 1963, on the centennial of the playwright’s birth. The story involves a finance broker in the Great Depression who reunites with his estranged son in order to save his company from going bankrupt. Maria Aitken directs, for Roundabout Theatre Company. In previews. (American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St. 212-719-1300.)
MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD
Lisa Peterson directs stories about raising children, by playwrights including Leslie Ayvazian, Beth Henley, Lameece Issaq, Lisa Loomer, Theresa Rebeck, Luanne Rice, Annie Weisman, and Cheryl L. West. Presented by Primary Stages. In previews. Opens Oct. 4. (59E59, at 59 E. 59th St. 212-279-4200.)
Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett star in a new play by Katori Hall, which imagines events on April 3, 1968, the night before the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. With original music composed by Branford Marsalis. Kenny Leon directs. In previews. (Jacobs, 242 W. 45th St. 212-239-6200.)
Three one-act comedies, by Ethan Coen (“Talking Cure”), Elaine May (“George Is Dead”), and Woody Allen (“Honeymoon Motel”), all directed by John Turturro. The cast includes Ari Graynor, Steve Guttenberg, Danny Hoch, Julie Kavner, Fred Melamed, and Marlo Thomas. In previews. (Brooks Atkinson, 256 W. 47th St. 877-250-2929.)
SONS OF THE PROPHET
Roundabout Theatre Company presents a dark comedy by Stephen Karam, about a Lebanese family in Pennsylvania. Joanna Gleason stars; Peter DuBois directs. In previews. (Laura Pels, 111 W. 46th St. 212-719-1300.)
Dan Fishback wrote and performs in this one-man show, on the thirtieth anniversary of the first report of AIDS, in which he explores his identity as a homosexual while remembering gay artists and role models who died of AIDS. Stephen Brackett directs. Preview on Sept. 30. Opens Oct. 1. (Dixon Place, 161 Chrystie St. 212-219-0736.)
THE THREEPENNY OPERA
Robert Wilson conceived and directs this Berliner Ensemble production of the Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill music-theatre work. In German, with English supertitles. Opens Oct. 4. (BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn. 718-636-4100.)
WE LIVE HERE
Manhattan Theatre Club presents a play by the actress Zoe Kazan (making her début as a playwright), about a wedding where the bride’s sister’s date brings unexpected trouble. Sam Gold directs. In previews. (City Center Stage I, 131 W. 55th St. 212-581-1212.)
(Chris Jones's article appeared in the Chicago Tribune, 9/23.)
If you thought Carrie Coon was all sweet and Honey, you just haven't yet seen "The Real Thing."
In Michael Halberstam's smart, stimulating and sometimes beguiling production of the 1982 Tom Stoppard play about how smart, stimulating and sometimes beguiling people can have crisis-strewn love lives, this remarkable young actress, one of the most arresting talents to suddenly appear in Chicago in years, achieves one thing above all else. Plying her theatrical trade at Writers' Theatre, where most bedrooms are set well back from the street but many of the denizens are familiar with the art of negotiation, Coon forges an aggressive, dangerously desirable, young woman — one whom a man can never be sure won't one day get up and leave.
(Robert Hurwitt’s article appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, 9/10.)
Take a couple long settled in an uneasy truce, add unwelcome guests, sprinkle liberally with alcohol and inject a bracing dose of nameless terror. Stage it with a delicate balance between acid comedy and deep empathy – as Tom Ross has at the Aurora Theatre – and you've got an Edward Albee drama for the ages.
(Natalie Woolman’s article appeared in Stage, 9/22.)
Nicolas Kent is to direct a play about the riots as part of his final season as artistic director of the Tricycle Theatre.
The play, by Gillian Slovo, is based on evidence about the disturbances that occurred earlier this year, including tweets, police accounts and interviews with politicians, community leaders, victims and onlookers about how and why they happened.
Kent and Slovo both worked on Guantanamo – Honor Bound to Defend Freedom, which was performed in the Houses of Parliament and Capitol Hill in Washington as well as at the Tricycle and in the West End.