Category Archives: Commentary

***** PATRICK MARBER: ‘DON JUAN IN SOHO’, WITH DAVID TENNANT (SV PICK, UK) ·

(Kate Kellaway’s article appeared in the Observer, 4/2.)

 

If Don Juan doesn’t know when to stop, I don’t know where to begin in describing Patrick Marber’s play and this fantastic, entertaining and unflagging production, which he directs. It opens with a blast of Mozart’s Don Giovanni – the music reminding us that hell is greedy, ready to swallow rascals alive. The stage in Don Juan in Soho is filled with dancers in misleadingly innocuous white, and right from the start there is a buzz, a sense that we are in safely unsafe hands.

Roll over Mozart – rock is taking over. This is contemporary Soho (classily designed by Anna Fleischle, dominated by Soho Square’s statue of Charles II). By the time we meet David Tennant’s Don Juan (now known as DJ), looking cadaverous, languid and unshaven – a picture of dissolution in his designer suit – we have already learned from his disloyal servant Stan (of whom more in a moment) that his master would “do it with anything… even a hole in the ozone layer”.

(Read more)

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2017/apr/02/don-juan-in-soho-david-tennant-review

O’NEILL: ‘EMPEROR JONES’ (SV PICK, NY) ·

(Laura Collins-Hughes’s article appeared in The New York Times, 3/24; via Pam Green.)

The unbounded fury of Emperor Brutus Jones blasts into the room before he does. It is the sound of a powerful man in a dangerous fit of temper. “Who dare wake up the emperor?” he roars.

That would be the director Ciaran O’Reilly, who has revived his gorgeous, astonishing production of Eugene O’Neill’s “The Emperor Jones” at Irish Repertory Theater, with largely the same creative team but an almost entirely new cast. Revelatory in 2009, when it starred the commanding John Douglas Thompson, it’s now both ferocious and blindsidingly affecting with the British newcomer Obi Abili in the title role.

The play, from 1920, unfolds into a fractured dark night of the American soul, but it begins in daylight in the palace of the West Indies island that Jones rules. A black American with a murderous past and an avaricious present, he’s a former Pullman porter. Reckless and mercurial, a bully when he wants to feel his own strength, he luxuriates in the perks of the office he’s grabbed for himself: the throne, the golden crown, the money he is milking from it.

(Read more)

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/24/theater/review-emperor-jones-fearsome-and-fearful-in-a-roaring-revival.html

FILIPINO YOUTH STAGE MUSICAL AGAINST DUTERTE’S DEADLY DRUGS WAR ·

Filipino theatre artists perform a “La Pieta” scene during a short musical about the killings under the Philippine government’s anti-drug campaign, in Pandacan city, metro Manila, Philippines April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

(Ronn Bauista’s and Neil Jerome Morales’s article appeareon Yahoo News, 4/24; via the Drudge Report.)

MANILA (Reuters) – A Philippine youth theater club staged a musical at a Manila park on Sunday, challenging President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.

The 20-minute show features a casket salesman whose funeral parlor is doing brisk business as corpses pile up.

But the salesman and his friends end up as statistics, falling to vigilante-style killings that have gripped the Southeast Asian nation and alarmed the international community.

“The play talks about the problem in the community with the war on drugs and the irony of it, that a few earn money amid this war and all the killings,” artistic director Jessie Villabrille told Reuters.

(Read more)

https://ca.news.yahoo.com/filipino-youth-stage-musical-against-dutertes-deadly-drugs-085741064.html

Photo: Reuters

SPY REPORT THAT CRITICISED MARLOWE FOR ‘GAY CHRIST’ CLAIM IS REVEALED ONLINE ·

(Andrew Dickson’s article appeared in the Guardian, 3/30.)

A controversial document in which the playwright Christopher Marlowereportedly declared that Christ was gay, that the only purpose of religion was to intimidate people, and that “all they that love not tobacco and boys were fools” is to go on show online for the first time.

The so-called “Baines note”, a star item in the British Library’s Renaissance manuscript collection, offers tantalising evidence about the private life of Marlowe, one of the most scandalous and magnetic figures of the Elizabeth period.

Compiled in May 1593 by the police informant and part-time spy Richard Baines, it claims to record a conversation between the two men in which the playwright airs a long list of what Baines describes as “monstrous opinions”.

Among them, Marlowe casts doubt on the existence of God, claims that the New Testament was so “filthily written” that he himself could do a better job, and makes the eyebrow-raising assertion that the Christian communion would be more satisfying if it were smoked “in a tobacco pipe”.

(Read more)

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2017/mar/31/christopher-marlowe-spy-baines-note-gay-christ-british-library-online

***** GARY OWEN: ‘KILLOLOGY’ (SV PICK, WALES) ·

(Lyn Gardner’s article appeared in the Guardian, 3/29.)

Paul has made a killing with a computer game he invented in a fit of pique at his dad, who thought he was wasting the advantages a privileged childhood had bought him. In the game, Killology, players score extra points for demonstrating creativity in the way they torture their victims. Feed them through a mincer feet first? Go up a level. Paul says the game is deeply moral because points are deducted if you look away from the screen while inflicting pain.

Alan is trying to overcome his own horror as he plots retribution on the man he holds responsible for murdering his son. But did he neglect his own duty, leaving his son unprotected and with no idea what it means to be a man? Then there is young Davey, raised in poverty by his mum. He is left negotiating his violent neighbourhood, where everyone turns a blind eye to the bullies who hold sway. “You can’t tell your mum the streets are full of psychos and it’s pure fluke you get home alive every night,” he reasons.

(Read more)

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2017/mar/29/killology-review-sherman-cardiff

 

JOE ORTON’S ‘ENTERTAINING MR. SLOANE’ OPENS AT PHOENIX THEATRE ENSEMBLE (NY) ON MAY 4 ·

‘ENTERTAINING MR. SLOANE’ 

Production marks the 50th anniversary of playwright’s death

Phoenix Theatre Ensemble announces that Joe Orton’s dark comedy Entertaining Mr. Sloane will begin performances May 4th and will run for 13 performances only through May 14 at The Wild Project  in NYC.   

Craig Smith directs a new staging of Joe Orton’s dark comedy, Entertaining Mr. Sloane with Phoenix Theatre Ensemble resident actors: Elise Stone, Antonio Edwards Suarez, and John Lenartz; and introduces newcomer Matt Baguth (pictured), as Sloane.

In Entertaining Mr. Sloane, Orton’s controversial comedy concerns a landlady (Stone) who invites the titular “attractive, mischievous and dangerous” man (Baguth) back to her house where she and her brother (Suarez) “compete for his favors.” The stranger’s past, however, threatens to catch up with him as the siblings’ elderly father (Lenartz) recalls when they last met. The breakthrough comedy for young Orton premiered in England in 1964.  Orton was brutally murdered three years later by his lover, Kenneth Halliwell–2017 marks the 50th Anniversary of Orton’s death.   

Set and Lights are being designed by Tony Mulanix, costumes by Debbi Hobson, original music and sound design by Ellen Mandel, assistant director is Karen Case Cook, stage manager is Oscar  Klausner, and vocal coach is Josh Moser.  Performances are at The Wild Project, 195 East 3rd Street, in NY’s East Village.

What:   Entertaining  Mr. Sloane by Joe Orton

When:   May 4–14; performances Tues-Sat @8:00 PM;  Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2:00 pm; Sunday matinee at 3:00 pm.

Full Schedule: Thurs 5/4 @ 8pm; Fri 5/5 @ 8pm; Sat 5/6 @ 2pm & 8pm; Sun 5/7 @ 3pm; Tues 5/9 @ 8pm; Wed 5/10 @2pm; 8pm; Thurs 5/11 @ 8pm; Fri 5/12 @ 8pm; Sat 5//13 @ 2pm & 8pm; Sun 5/14 @  3pm.

Information: http://www.phoenixtheatreensemble.org/;  212-465-3446

Tickets:   Tickets are $30 each; Call 212-352-3101 or visit www.PhoenixTheatreEnsemble.org.

Where: The Wild Project @ 195 East 3rd Street (Avenue A and Avenue B)

Transportation: By Subway: F Train to 2nd Avenue; by Bus A14 to 4th Street and Ave A; 8th Street Crosstown.

Press: Craig Smith

Photo Caption:  Matt Baguth as Sloane in Entertaining Mr. Sloane at Phoenix Theatre Ensemble 

DAVID STOREY, REST IN PEACE (1933-2017) ·

(Michael Coveney’s article appeared in the Guardian, 3/27.)

David Storey, who has died aged 83, was an unusual literary figure in being as well known for writing novels as he was for writing plays, never claiming that one discipline was harder or easier than the other, but achieving distinction in both, often overlapping, fields. He sprang to prominence with his first novel, This Sporting Life, in 1960; his 1963 movie adaptation, directed by Lindsay Anderson, and starring Richard Harris and Rachel Roberts, was an outstanding example of the new wave of British film, in its raw black-and-white northern realism and its brutal story of a miner turned professional rugby player and his widowed landlady.

Storey, the big and burly son of a Yorkshire miner, played rugby league for Leeds in the early 1950s while also studying fine art at the Slade school in London. His recurring themes, on stage and page, were defined by this dual experience; and by the conflict between his roots in the north and a sense of powerful dislocation in the south, as well as feelings of guilt and atonement in family life.

(Read more)

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2017/mar/27/david-storey-obituary

WELL, HELLO, DOLLYS! ·

(Eric Grode’s article appeared in the New York Times, 3/22.)

Carol Channing, who created the title role in the 1964 smash hit musical “Hello, Dolly!,” has been called many things: “a walking alarm clock,” “a moon-mad hillbilly,” “an Al Hirschfeld caricature in the flesh,” with “a vocal range from deep foghorn to squeaky hinge.”

But one thing she has never been called is a type.

“Everyone is unique,” said Carole Cook, who in originating the Australian production in 1965 became just the second woman to play Dolly Gallagher Levi. “But some are uniquer than others.”

So what happened when the irreplaceable Ms. Channing said, “So long Dearie” to the role?

She was replaced. Again and again and again.

(Read more)

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/22/theater/hello-dolly-bette-midler-carol-channing.html?_r=0

Top photo: NewNowNext

 

CAN A PUPPET BECOME HUMAN? ·

(Julia Rybinda’s and Anastasiya Karagodina’s article appeared on Russia Beyond the Headlines, 3/27.)

It is natural for humans to animate and anthropomorphize anything they touch. Puppetry is a special case in that it breathes life into what are essentially inanimate objects. Every puppet protagonist has its own unique character and lives its own life. People love them and talk to them. Even the puppeteers themselves struggle to explain the magic between them and their alter egos. Who pulls the strings (quite literally)? Are the puppeteers the actual puppets? Where does the puppeteer end and the puppet begin?

(Read more)

http://rbth.com/multimedia/pictures/2017/03/27/can-a-puppet-become-human_728123

Photo:  Svetlana Skover

SIR TIM RICE DISCUSSES MUSIC AND HIS MUSICALS (LISTEN NOW ON BBC RADIO 3–LINK BELOW) ·

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listen at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05sxy5j

Tim Rice has written the lyrics for some of the most successful musicals of our generation: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat … Jesus Christ Superstar … Evita … For 45 years he has been creating hit songs, collaborating first and famously with Andrew Lloyd Webber, then with Abba, Elton John, Freddy Mercury and Madonna. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, thanks to the success of his songs in Disney movies The Lion King, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast. A three-time Oscar winner, he has been knighted for services to music.

In Private Passions, he talks to Michael Berkeley about the process of lyric-writing, about why it’s an extraordinary experience to work with Elton John, and about what it is that makes a successful song lyric. He also reveals that his early ambition was to be a pop star, and that he started out as a singer – in fact, he recorded a single.

Music choices include a satirical operetta by Offenbach, Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Vaughan Williams’s London Symphony, The Swan of Tuonela by Sibelius, Malcolm Arnold’s Peterloo Overture and Britten’s arrangement of the folk song The Plough Boy. And Tim Rice ends by revealing which is his favourite musical of all – music his father introduced him to as a boy: My Fair Lady.

Produced by Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Production for BBC Radio 3.

Photo: D23.com