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POSTED: Friday, November 8, 2013, 10:38 PM

By Jim Rutter


Do you like your biographies historically accurate or delivered with artistic license? Your preferences—and judgment—matter much in how you’ll respond to Doug Wright’s I Am My Own Wife, now receiving a sharply performed, thought-provoking production at Theatre Horizon.  

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POSTED: Friday, November 8, 2013, 10:26 PM
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By Jim Rutter


Want to know the second best thing about Act 2’s production of The Woman in Black? Despite casting two of Philadelphia’s finest actors, it never pretends to be anything more than what its subtitle proclaims: a ghost play. Like Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap—the only show on London’s West End that exceeds The Woman in Black’s 24-year run—it simply asks its audience to sit back, relax, and enjoy.

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POSTED: Friday, November 8, 2013, 4:15 PM
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Brian Cordova and Liu Mo in Kun-Yang Lin's The Song that Can't be Sung, photo by L. Browning Photography

By Merilyn Jackson

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POSTED: Tuesday, November 5, 2013, 6:57 AM

by Toby Zinman

for the Inquirer

 The scourge of America strikes again! Following the hilarious, shocking, Pulitzer-winning and Tony-winning excoriation called Clybourne Park, Bruce Norris gives us Domesticated—also shocking, if not so funny.  If Clybourne Park was an exposé of the racism that lurks beneath the American skin—regardless of the color of that skin—Domesticated is an exposé of the sexism that lurks beneath the skin—regardless of the genitals.

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POSTED: Monday, November 4, 2013, 1:40 PM

By Wendy Rosenfield
For the Inquirer 

Before New City Stage Company’s return engagement of RFK begins, Ren Manley’s collection of vintage black and white commercials and film clips, projected onto an onstage wall, sets the scene. There’s an obituary reel for Marilyn Monroe -- that favorite of Bobby’s big brother Jack -- as well as an ad touting the luxury of oil heat and Don Knotts schooling the young Ron Howard about tough-guy behavior. When the lights dim, we hear the unmistakable muffled pop of a television’s button turning off. 

There’s no shortage of nostalgia tripping in this production, with even more evocative assists by Procol Harum, Jefferson Airplane and other bands from the era. The multimedia effects work both on boomers, who remember exactly where they were when they heard the terrible news, and younger audiences living through their own era of dashed hopes and undeclared wars. 

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POSTED: Thursday, October 31, 2013, 9:12 AM

By Wendy Rosenfield
For The Inquirer

The musical Once, currently enjoying its first national tour, is a far simpler affair than all its awards (among them, eight Tonys, one Grammy) accolades, and devotees might otherwise indicate. Adapted from John Carney’s 89-minute independent film, which was even simpler than its staged twin, Once follows a Dublin busker boy and Czech immigrant girl over the course of a week as they make beautiful music together.

Both onscreen and onstage versions feature Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova’s Lumineers-y romantic stompalongs and wistful ballads for solo and duet, all heavy on minor chord yearning. It’s a show for, about and probably by young lovers; think an anodyne Brief Encounter, if such a thing is possible. Even if the stakes aren’t so high, every decision seems loaded with what-if fears of creating a butterfly effect on an uncertain future. 

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POSTED: Sunday, October 27, 2013, 1:45 PM

By Wendy Rosenfield

for the Inquirer

Some adore Oliver Goldsmith’s 1773 Restoration-style comedy She Stoops to Conquer, and others loathe it. Among its admirers, there have existed enough artistic directors in the ensuing centuries to thoroughly redeem Mr. Goldsmith’s youthful reputation as a dissolute slacker. Count Quintessence Theatre Group’s Alexander Burns in the former camp. He’s running the mistaken identity romp in repertory with Hamlet, a whole other sort of identity play.

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POSTED: Sunday, October 27, 2013, 9:27 AM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

This new play, The Snow Geese by Sharr White, feels like an old play, which is surprising, since White’s new play last season, The Other Place, was stunningly new in both themes and methods—and Laurie Metcalf’s thrilling performance. The Snow Geese is amelodramatic and engrossing family drama about a world from a century ago. It seems Chekhovian—a party in a country house surrounded by birch trees, money troubles, talky people (one of whom is, of course, a doctor) although unlike the Russian’s masterworks, this play is plot-driven, not character-driven. 

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About this blog
Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer. She also is a contributing writer for Variety and American Theatre magazine. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of four books about four playwrights (Rabe, McNally, Miller, Albee), and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). Her 'weekend' job as a travel writer provides adventure: dogsledding in the Yukon, ziplining in Belize, walking coast-to-coast across England, and cowboying in the Australian Outback.

Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.

Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.

Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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