Monthly Archives: November 2014


Listen at:

Sean O'Casey's classic play set in the midst of the Easter Rising of 1916. The impact of events is viewed through the eyes of ordinary people inhabiting a Dublin tenement. O'Casey's masterpiece paints a vivid portrait of a city and a nation in turmoil.

The Plough and the Stars was chosen for Drama on 3 by the playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah. Kwame also introduces this new production of the play.

Musical Director ….. Conrad Nelson.










Sean O'Casey




Elaine Cassidy




Padraic Delaney




Gabrielle Reidy




Finbar Lynch




Stephen Hogan


The Covey


Jonathan Forbes


Mrs Gogan


Fiona Clarke




Rebecca Gleeson




Jane McGrath


Capt Brennan


Matthew McNulty


Lieut. Langan


Sam Smith



Nadia Molinari




(Lyn Gardner’s article appeared in the Guardian, 11/25.)

At a recent workshop, as part of the excellent Mousetrap Theatre Projects, the playwright Simon Stephens was talking about the making of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. In answer to a question from one of the students, he made the point that the show would never have ended up as it did if he had written stage directions detailing exactly how it should look and sound.

“It makes everyone alert,” said Stephens. “It’s solving those problems – how you get Christopher from Swindon to London – that make the evening what it is. A play script is not a prescription. It’s a starting gesture that may lead to a night in the theatre that forces everyone involved, including the audience, to be at their most imaginative.”

It’s a very far cry from the plays of Ibsen, Shaw or O’Neill that often run to pages of stage directions. Shaw’s stage directions sometimes even stipulate exactly which pictures should be hanging on the wall. But, of course, Shaw’s plays would have been as widely read as they were staged – and stage directions can be helpful to a reader. O’Neill’s are so extensive that, earlier this year, the New York Neo-Futurists premiered their second comedy based entirely upon them with The Complete and Condensed Staged Directions of Eugene O’Neill, Volume 2.




(Charles Isherwood’s article appeared in The New York Times, 11/28; via Pam Green.)

They bestride the world, or at least the West, like colossi. Thronging the halls of Congress and, until just recently, the Oval Office. Running giant corporations. Meeting and greeting at powwows in Switzerland. I speak of the species known as the straight white male, the most unoppressed of the world’s peoples. They are feared, envied, occasionally attacked and derided. But pitied? Not so much.

The signal surprise of “Straight White Men,” written and directed by the ever-audacious Young Jean Lee, is that the play is not a full-frontal assault on the beings of the title. True, Ms. Lee does show these creatures in their natural habitat — among other straight white men — sometimes behaving like overgrown boys: sitting zombie-eyed on the couch, obsessively fiddling with a black plastic implement and slaughtering digital foes by the dozen; eating Chinese food right out of the boxes; razzing one another with puerile jokes.


(Matt Wolf’s article appeared in The New York Times, 11/20; via Pam Green.)

LONDON — Maybe it’s the advent of winter in a city that gets dark at 4 p.m., but the London stage of late is laying on darkness with a vengeance, offering up body parts on skewers and illicit love gone awry.

Those are just two of the frisson-generating qualities of “'Tis Pity She’s a Whore,” the Jacobean charnel-house of a play that has arrived in a lively new production at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, the new indoors theater that opened this year at Shakespeare’s Globe. If you want a polite evening, look elsewhere; eye-gouging, incest and more are the name of the game here.


(Hilton Als’s article appeared in The New Yorker, 12/1; via Pam Green.)

Blame it on Elizabeth Taylor. Her portrayal of Martha in Mike Nichols’s 1966 film adaptation of Edward Albee’s 1962 early masterpiece, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” won her a Best Actress Oscar and freeze-framed what would be considered the prototypical Albee wife—“I am the Earth Mother, and you are all flops.” It also made the movie, for many people, the definitive version of Albee’s view of heterosexual marriage as a savage and barbaric rite of passage. But, before “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” hit the screens, this unimpeachably original playwright had already produced another of what you might call his marriage plays, the long one-act “The American Dream” (1961). (Albee’s third play about marriage, “A Delicate Balance,” from 1966, is currently being staged at the John Golden.)



(Ben Brantley’s article appeared in The New York Times, 11/24.)

The lines between pleasure and pain keep blurring in Kneehigh Theater’s ecstasy-drunk “Tristan & Yseult,” which opened on Monday night at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn. This is true not only for the doomed-to-love title characters, who notoriously have that whole Eros and Thanatos thing going, but also for the audience in their thrall.

Long stretches of Emma Rice’s ever-surprising adaptation of an ancient tale of fatal adultery feel like a giddy party, though one at which the guests are perhaps trying too hard to have a good time. Bring out the balloons! Raise your glasses! Sing along with the band!


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Then, before you know it, you’ve been ambushed by a sorrow that makes your eyes sting. And with that startling sadness comes the realization that, all along, a jagged heart has been throbbing at the center of these merry revels. You understand what one of the show’s characters, a cuckolded king who is no longer sure whether to rule with his heart or his head, means when he proclaims, “Let ambivalence come.”



(Alexis Soloski’s article appeared in The New York Times, 11/24.)

Last summer, the radio host Ira Glass prompted a Twitter tempest when he attended the Public Theater’s lackluster “King Lear” and tweeted: “No stakes, not relatable. I think I’m realizing: Shakespeare sucks.”

Maybe Mr. Glass saw the wrong Shakespeare play.


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The theater’s Mobile Shakespeare Unit has just returned “Pericles, Prince of Tyre” to Lafayette Street, having toured the production to homeless shelters, community centers and correctional facilities — reaching audiences who can’t spend a day standing in line for Shakespeare in the Park tickets. Few Bardolators would argue that “Pericles” is the equal of “Lear” in poetry or power. It has a clunky, outmoded framing device, and its plot, which involves multiple shipwrecks, an unlikely resurrection and some extremely polite brothel customers, is tough to respect. But this 100-minute show (about half the length of “Lear”) is feisty and involving. And while I’ve never believed that great art has to be “relatable,” the audience members who watched the final act of “Pericles” with tears in their eyes seemed to find it so. 



(Dominic Cavendish’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 11/24.)

1 Carrie (1988)

This atrocious adaptation of Stephen King's novel – taken by the Royal Shakespeare Company to Broadway where it folded after 21 performances – remains the primus inter pares of the musical flop. King's story of a menstruating schoolgirl with telekenetic powers and a mad religious mother was served up with a ghastly gloop of rock-pop and fake blood. It was hailed as "a resounding mistake" in England and duly went on to be ferociously panned in New York, losing a neat $8 million.

2 Which Witch (1992)

The brainchild of Benedicte Adrian and Ingrid Bjornov – members of Norwegian pop group Dollie Deluxe – this "opera-musical" was a cod 16th-century tale of thwarted passion that culminated in the young Italian heroine being burnt at the stake as a witch. King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway visited the Piccadilly Theatre to lend their support to "the most heavily panned London stage musical in a generation" – but it folded after 10 weeks. "Flops don't come much floppier," said the Telegraph. Nul points.



(Patrick Healy’s article appeared in The New York Times, 11/24.)

Can Sting save his sinking ship on Broadway?

In one of the boldest gambles in many a theater season, Sting will begin acting in the Broadway musical “The Last Ship” — for which he wrote the music and lyrics — starting Dec. 9 and perform eight shows a week through Jan. 10, in hopes that his devoted fans will help turn around the show’s perilously low ticket sales.

The $15 million musical has been losing $75,000 a week since performances began Sept. 29, enough that the show, which earned mixed reviews, had seemed destined to be a flop — and a black eye, commercially speaking, for Sting.


(Patrick Healy’s article appeared in The New York Times, 11/5; via Pam Green.)

Wolverine seems ageless, but Hugh Jackman is definitely aging.

Mr. Jackman, who turned 46 last month, gets tired more easily than he used to — or so he said after giving a fuzzy answer during a recent interview. He’s coming off his third treatment for skin cancer in the last year. He finds himself looking at role models like Paul Newman and Richard Burton and wanting more for his career, and soon. He is attached to the next installment in the hugely popular “X-Men” series yet sounds almost sheepish about it, saying he wouldn’t mind if his role as Logan/Wolverine were smaller. (At least the movie character is still around; Wolverine just died in the X-Men comics.)