Monthly Archives: February 2016


(Joe Kucharski’s article appeared in, Tyranny of Style, Feb 15, 2016.)

HAMILTON is the hottest new show to premiere on Broadway in years (sold-out into 2017!). It is a groundbreaking new musical from Lin-Manuel Miranda who wrote the music, lyrics, and book, as well as stars as the show’s title character. HAMILTON weaves together rap, hip-hop, and traditional musical styles to tell the dynamic story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton, all beautifully portrayed by such a diverse cast. Costumes designed by Tony Award nominee Paul Tazewell, help to wonderfully support such bold storytelling by expertly combining the fussy world of 18th century dress with a minimalist, modern sensibility. Tazewell is an acclaimed costume designer for theatre, dance, and opera, with such credits as Bring In ‘Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk, Dr. Zhivago, Side Show, and NBC’s smash hit The Wiz Live! Tazewell recently, very generously, opened up with us on his process for designing the iconic costumes of HAMILTON!


(from Reuters, 2/22.)

CAIRO (Reuters) – An Egyptian court has sentenced an author to two years in jail for public indecency after excerpts of his sexually explicit novel were published in a literary newspaper.

A chapter from Ahmed Naji's novel Istikhdam al-Hayat, or Using Life, was serialized in a state-owned literary newspaper and a case was brought against him last year by a private citizen who claimed the excerpt caused him distress and heart palpitations.

Naji was initially acquitted in January but the prosecution appealed the ruling and he was sentenced to two years in prison in a retrial on Saturday, his lawyer said. The verdict can be appealed.

In the initial ruling the court said it acquitted Naji because freedom of expression was enshrined in the constitution, adding that morality was subjective. The second court is yet to announce its reasons for overturning that ruling.



(Mark Cook’s and Lyn Gardner’s article appeared in the Guardian, 2/19.)

The Maids, London

Three women who have made a big impact on TV line up for the latest of Jamie Lloyd’s productions at the Trafalgar Studios. The Maids is a psychodrama by Jean Genet with themes of class, gender and sexuality, as two maids plot the murder of their mistress in a luxurious bedroom, playing out violent scenarios as they do so. In this modern, US-set version, the two servants are played by Uzo Aduba, a double Emmy-winner for her performance as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren in Orange Is The New Black, and Zawe Ashton of Fresh Meat fame, seen in Splendour at the Donmar Warehouse last year. Madam is played by someone familiar with upstairs-dwelling characters: Laura Carmichael, best known as Downton Abbey’s Lady Edith.

Trafalgar Studios, SW1, Sat to 21 May


A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play For The Nation, Stratford-upon-Avon

This collaborative Royal Shakespeare Company production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream sees actors from various amateur theatre companies join the professional cast to play Bottom and his friends. Alongside Ayesha Dharker as Titania and Lucy Ellinson as Puck, local am-dram groups play the Mechanicals, themselves part-time actors who perform a play within the play. It’s good to see the contribution amateur companies make to cultural life recognised, and, of course, it means the production will be different every place it’s performed, as it travels to 11 theatres across the country next month.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre, to 16 Jul




(Charles Isherwood’s article appeared in The New York Times, 2/18.)

“Doing life twice sounds like the only thing worse than doing it once,” says the beleaguered paterfamilias of “The Humans,” Stephen Karam’s piercingly funny, bruisingly sad comedy-drama about an American family teetering on the edge of the abyss.

The title may sound generic, but there’s nothing blurry about Mr. Karam’s scorching drama, which opened on Broadway on Thursday at the Helen Hayes Theater. Drawn in subtle but indelible strokes, Mr. Karam’s play might almost qualify as deep-delving reportage, so clearly does it illuminate the current, tremor-ridden landscape of contemporary America.



(Alexis Soloski’s article appeared in the New York Times February 17, 2016; via Ms. Paguay.)

Who needs cakes and ale when you have pizza and lager? In the best bits of “Twelfth Night,” presented at the Skirball Center for the Performing arts in association with the Royal Shakespeare Company, The British troupe Filter Theater reimagines Shakespeare’s comedy as a frat bacchanal. There’s even an improvement on beer pong.

Filter specializes in eliciting the immediacy and bounce from classic texts. A few years ago, I saw its wildly inventive. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which reset the play backstage at a theater with Oberon as an imperious director and puck as a beleaguered stagehand. There was a food fight in the middle and not even being hit with a bread roll dimmed my enthusiasm.

(Read More)


(Chloe-Anna McConville’s article appeared in The Boar, 1/24: via Aaron.)

Chloe-Ana McConville interviewed Carrie Cracknell about her and Lucy Guerin’s adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s classics. Featuring John Heffernan as Macbeth and Anna Maxwell Martin it is coming to The Birmingham Repertory Theatre on the 26th January.

After already working together and demonstrating your creativity in Medea what made you both want to tackle Macbeth?

We’ve been working together on and off for about four years, developing material, choreographing material. I directed Medea and Lucy was the choreographer on that. Then we decided to develop the relationship further into a co-directing relationship because we were interested in trying to find a crossover between two ways of working and to create a project which had an equal weighting between text and movement. As co-directors we really wanted to try and interrogate each others ways of working and a create a piece of material which had both languages within it.




(Margalit Fox’s article appeared in The New York Times, 2/06; review via Ms. Ortiz.)

Frank Finlay, an academy award-nominated English actor known for his screen appearance as Iago in “Othello” and Porthos in “The Three Musketeers,” died on Jan.30 at his home in Weybridge, England. He was 89.

His family announced his death, The Associated Press Reported.

In character roles on stage, screen and television, Mr. Finlay was routinely praised by critics for his resonant voice, physical grace and brooding, soulful mien.

He was nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar for playing Iago to Laurence Oliver’s in the 1965 film version of Shakespeare’s play, directed by Stuart Burge and also starring Derek Jacobi as Cassio. (The award that year went to Martin Balsam for “A Thousand Clowns.”)

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(Hedy Weiss’s article appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, 02/17; review via Ms. Ortiz.) 

This month, in a fine confluence of events connected to Shakespeare 400 Chicago — the celebration honoring the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death — two very different versions of the same story will be on view.

Chicago Shakespeare Theatre will mount “Othello,” in a production staged by the British director Jonathan Munby and starring Chicago actor James Meredith in the title role. And Germany’s Hamburg Ballet will present two performances of John Neumeier’s full length dance version of “Othello” at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.

Stage Voices Publishing for archived posts and sign up for free e-mail updates: http 2015:// If you would like to contribute a review, monologue, or other work related to theatre, please write to Bob Shuman at



(Claire Allfree’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 2/17.)

What might it sound like to be lost 400 miles inside the Amazon jungle? Might you hear the woozy buzz of mosquitoes, the eerie cry of exotic birds, the feathery crunch of the forest floor? Might you also be unable to tell where the sounds are coming from, or whether you’ve even imagined them? This is the sorcery of Simon McBurney’s new solo Complicite show, which uses binaural technology to transport and disorientate, and which the audience experiences through special headphones. Sound can’t literally intoxicate, but such is this show’s aural potency that at times you do wonder if you are drunk.

The Encounter is the story of Loren McIntyre, an American photographer who in 1969 tracked down the “lost” Mayoruna tribe deep in the Amazon jungle. Basing his account on Petru Popescu’s 1991 book about McIntyre, McBurney takes us in McIntyre’s footsteps, but he also takes us on the journey he took to make the show. Alone on stage with a desk, a few bottles of water and a couple of microphones, he chummily shows us how the tech works, as well as its transfiguring effects (when McBurney whispers in our right ear that our ear will feel warm, it does). There are basic Foley techniques (a shaken bottle of water becomes the lap of a river) but also layers of prerecorded sound, including conversations between McBurney and his young daughter, so that our notions of time, borders, reality and artifice start to blend into a wondrous aural soup.


(Peter Crawley’s article appeared in the Irish Times, 4/17.)

“The last thing I am is Irish,” insists Eric Miller, a sullen Belfast loyalist, in David Ireland’s caustically funny new play. Wary and fidgety, he keeps his chin down and his eyes up when talking, even as his psychiatrist assures him that this is a safe place where anything can be said without judgment.

Both Eric and David Ireland seem keen to test those limits in this co-production between the Abbey and the Royal Court, lobbing unpalatable opinions, outrageous claims or racist epithets. For Eric believes that nowhere is safe, and the threats to his identity amassing. One such danger, fiendish and extraordinary, has brought him here: he believes his five-week old granddaughter is Gerry Adams.