NEW YORK (Billboard) – The new Broadway musical "The Addams Family" opened April 8 to gruesome reviews.
But the box-office receipts have turned out to be surprisingly robust, leaving the production's parade of investors snap-snapping their way to the bank. Among them is a conspicuous newcomer to the field.
Decca Broadway is set to record and release the original "Addams" cast recording in June. But the label's new sibling division, Decca Theatricals, is a full-on "Addams" producer, with what its team characterizes as a "significant" stake in the show.
Simon Callow minds his language as he revels in a study of sexuality in Shakespeare's plays
If there is any one aspect of Shakespeare's work that singles him out from every other great writer, it is the astounding comprehensiveness of his treatment of love and sex. Not only do those great themes figure prominently in virtually every play he wrote, he explores, with detailed vividness, a range of sexual and amatory experience that leaves Masters and Johnson looking pretty skimpy. From the most exalted Petrarchan effusions to the basest bodily function, he covers the waterfront.
(Benedict Nightingale’s article appeared in the Times of London, 4/23.)
Great moments in theatre: Saved
The writer Edward Bond was stunned by the critical reception of a play he called “almost irresponsibly optimistic”
A sadly familiar sign of the arrival in Britain of an original and important dramatist is a critical mauling. It happened to Ibsen, to Beckett, even to Chekhov. It happened to Sarah Kane, though the importance of her debut play, Blasted, is still debated. It certainly happened to Edward Bond, with almost every reviewer wincing in disgust from Saved, a play in which a band of thugs smeared a baby with its own excrement and then stoned it to death in the pram its mother had abandoned in a London park.
(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 4/23.)
Lynn Nottage's play arrives in London laden with American honours. And rightly so, since it offers a graphic portrait of women as perennial victims of war. More than that, it reminds us of the continuing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which rarely makes the front pages but has led to 5.4m deaths.
Nottage's focus is very precise: she deals with a bar-cum-brothel in a small Congolese mining town on the edge of the rainforest. The bar's presiding spirit is Mama Nadi who believes, like Brecht's Mother Courage, that as long as business is good and she avoids taking sides, she can survive the war. But, in the course of the action, head and heart come into conflict.
Every week the staff of Manhattan’s renowned Drama Book Shop undertakes the formidable challenge of helping actors find the best monologues for auditions and classes, answering hundreds of questions regarding the latest—and classic—plays from the U.S. and around the world; and recommending theatre craft titles–from lighting design to beating the pavement–which give best value. They even have a working theatre in their basement!
Here they are on Stage Voices, picking the best of published work to keep us up to date and aware of the little known—the next best thing to actually being in the shop, listening to their wise counsel and sage advice.
DRAMA BOOK SHOP WEEKLY PICK:
FUBAR by Karl Gajdusek
Samuel French, 2010 Acting Edition: $9.95 (Please call to order)
F*cked Up Beyond All Recognition. An apt expression for the action of this play, even if the title is awkwardly placed into the dialogue.
When choosing my play of the week I had three or four possibilities in mind. I chose FUBAR because it seemed the most truthful; not that I can necessarily relate to these characters, but when analyzed against the backdrop of my older friends, who are in their mid-thirties, the play seemed to be an accurate portrayal of a generation.
Mary and David have moved to her recently deceased mother’s home in San Francisco. When Mary was a child, the domestic violence between her mother and father scarred Mary to the point that she can't even trust her own relationship with David. The thing that she can't get around is how her mother forgave her father, and lived a happy and fulfilled life after his death.
She refuses to unpack the boxes because with them comes the pain of reconciliation. David meanwhile meets up with his old friend Richard, an upper middle class white collar drug dealer, and Richard’s wife Sylvia, a free spirit, wannabe-esoteric sage-medium-realist. David takes up recreational drugs as a way to escape his problems with Mary, and his desire to, every once and a while, pop her one.
After Mary is beaten up by a mugger, she starts going to the gym to learn how to fight, while David plays his old high school games and gets involved with Richards wife.
FUBAR takes the Gen X crowd and shows the quiet desperation behind a solitary life, but elevates it beyond the traditional kitchen sink drama. Or maybe the kitchen sink drama has moved on and developed into the more contemporary hour long television dramedy of today, with a little humor here, a little sex there, some drugs and some domestic sparring.
Regardless, it's a good tight script, with lots for an actor to draw from.
Cast: 3M/2W, late 20s – mid 30s
Scenes/Monologues: Several good sized monologues for both M & W, great scenes for 2 and 3 people
(Benedict Nightingale’s article appeared in the Times of London 4/22.)
The Real Thing at The Old Vic, SE1
“Poor Tom’s a-cold,” cries the disguised Edgar in King Lear, speaking of himself but, I once felt, delivering a highly anachronistic critique of Tom Stoppard. The ideas fizzed. The wit scintillated. Tom turned imaginative somersaults. We admired the intellectual energy, but where was the visceral passion? We loved Stoppard’s work — but where was, well, love?
Then came his 1982 Real Thing, and suddenly Tom was a-warm and, with the moving Arcadia and Invention of Love to follow, even a-hot. The play opens with what might almost be Stoppard’s parody of his own work at its most brilliantly frivolous. A husband welcomes his wife home from what isn’t the trip to Geneva she has pretended. “How’s Franc?” he asks. “Frank who?” she replies. “The Swiss franc,” he explains, and, as she flounders, goes on to expose her adultery, something that seems mainly to amuse him.