(Peter Crawley’s review appeared in the Irish Times, 8/27.)
Peacock Theatre, Dublin
“WAIT,” SAYS a character in the dream-themed summer blockbuster, Inception . “Whose subconscious are we going into, exactly?”
It’s a question you could as easily ask of August Strindberg’s expressionistic work of 1902, or Caryl Churchill’s 2005 version, or indeed of National Youth Theatre’s playfully skittering new production directed by Jimmy Fay.
(Robert Hurwitt’s review appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, 8/23.)
Macbeth: Tragedy. By William Shakespeare. Directed by Joel Sass. Through Sept. 12. California Shakespeare Theater, Bruns Amphitheater, 100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, Orinda. Two hours, 30 minutes. $34-$70. (510) 548-9666. www.calshakes.org.
The California Shakespeare Theater offering that opened Saturday is a "Macbeth" for a nation weary of a decade at war.
The velocity of Joel Sass' "Macbeth" can be overpowering. The fierce bond between Jud Williford and Stacy Ross as its fabled title couple is no less intense than the unsettling impact of its modern medical and interrogation techniques. If Sass' adaptation and staging overreach at times, and undercut the dramatic impact of its climax, that's the price paid for a bracing and original new look at this classic. Forget the weather. The biting cold that enveloped the Bruns Amphitheater on Saturday was no more chilling than much of the action onstage.
Watching combative friends and relatives lob epigrams at one another has long been a favorite spectator sport at summer theaters. When you’re feeling overheated and limp-brained, there’s undeniable satisfaction in hearing awkwardness and animosity translated into graceful, gliding prose. But does anyone ever pause to think how trying it must be always to speak that way, or that such articulateness might be — gulp! — a hard-fought existential commitment?
Edward Albee, for one, does. This tirelessly eloquent playwright has created character after character who wages stylish verbal battles against the void, in dramas that add a haunting, rueful burn to cocktail-chatter crispness. When the mixture of pain and polish is just right, such talk stings and tickles like no other. So I’m urging you to take a trip to the Berkshire Theater Festival, where a select company of actors is flinging, sloshing, spilling and very much savoring Mr. Albee’s words in a first-class revival of “A Delicate Balance.”
(Michael Feingold’s article appeared in the Village Voice, 8/25.)
Irish, female, and hearing-impaired from the age of 20 (Ménière's disease), the playwright Teresa Deevy (1894–1963) has everything that could lure a theater into an act of literary rediscovery. What nonprofit institution wouldn't want the glory of reclaiming from oblivion a gender-oppressed, disabled artist born into a minority nation struggling for its independence? For a bonus, even the nationalist theater that nurtured Deevy ultimately turned against her: By the time she completed Wife to James Whelan in 1942, the Abbey Theatre, which had had some success with her earlier plays, was in new, conservative hands; it turned the play down. No further work of hers was produced there.
(Soloski’s article appeared in the Village Voice, 8/24.)
In 1960, Edward Albee's The Zoo Story, a one-act play written as a 30th birthday present to himself, opened at the Provincetown Playhouse. In an accompanying essay, he noted, "Careers are funny things. They begin mysteriously, and just as mysteriously they can end; and I am at the beginning of what I hope will be a long and satisfying life in the theater." Though he doesn't count prophecy among his skills, the 82-year-old writer has since won Obies, Tonys, Pulitzers, and membership in a pantheon of American playwrights that includes Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, and Arthur Miller. (He thinks Thornton Wilder ought to make the list, too.) His latest work, Me, Myself & I, a comedy about identical twins and their flummoxed mother, begins performances this week at Playwrights Horizons. Recently, Albee spent a morning at his maddeningly lovely Tribeca loft discussing he, himself, and him.
(Ben Brantley’s article appeared 8/23 in The New York Times.)
Take a good look at the recumbent, inanimate figure that occupies center stage at the beginning of Shakespeare & Company’s rousing production of “Richard III.” That’s the last time you’ll see it so motionless or so horizontal. The body is that of the title character of Shakespeare’s grisliest history play. And as portrayed by John Douglas Thompson, this monarch-in-the-making quickly establishes himself as a man who is almost never still and who takes absolutely nothing lying down.
To call Mr. Thompson’s superkinetic Richard III a force of nature doesn’t quite get it. He suggests instead a force of history, a juggernaut that keeps charging relentlessly forward, sweeping up and mowing down whatever’s in its path. The usual perplexing concerns of motive and Freudian pathology that attend portrayals of Shakespeare’s crookback are not at issue in this production, conceived and adapted by Tony Simotes and directed by Jonathan Croy.
(Daniel M. Gold’s article appeared 8/22 in The New York Times.)
First performed in London in 1992, Ms. Pascal’s “Dybbuk” toured widely in Europe but hasn’t been performed in the United States until now, as part of a new four-week Dream Up Festival at the Theater for the New City.