Friday, February 12, 2016

Archive: January, 2012

POSTED: Thursday, January 26, 2012, 12:10 AM
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Kevin Bergen and Bi Jean Ngo in InterAct Theatre Company's production of the satire "Microcrisis." Photo by Seth Rozin.

By Howard Shapiro

Bankers are lending big money to poor folks who can never pay it back, Ivy League whiz kids are developing new ways to get interest on that cash, financial watchdogs grant high ratings to every scammer, the feds turn all their cheeks, and in the play Microcrisis — can you believe it? — it’s big fun.

Granted, you can argue fine points about the financial stuff, but not about the fun factor of Microcrisis, in InterAct Theatre Company’s dynamically wacky production staged by InterAct’s leader, Seth Rozin. It opened Wednesday at the Adrienne Theatre with a cast fully versed in the idiocies of the characters.

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POSTED: Wednesday, January 25, 2012, 11:23 PM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

That creaky sound you hear is not just a door ominously opening; it’s also the plot of this legendary Agatha Cristie mystery at the Walnut Street Theatre. The play has been running  for an astonishing sixty years—it’s the world’s longest running play, and for the first time, the producers are permitting productions outside London.

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POSTED: Monday, January 23, 2012, 10:30 AM
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Steve Gleich as the father and Peter Zielinski as Isaac in Fever Dream Repertory's production of "Beautiful Child." Photo by Matt Hurst.

By Howard Shapiro

Isaac is a guy in his 30s who teaches art and has a burning love for a student of his — a boy aged eight. What we know from Beautiful Child, the play being done by Fever Dream Repertory at the Adrienne, is little more. During the course of a class, Issac put his hand on the boys shoulder, then his finger on the boy’s lips. Anything else, we have to assume. 

In the end, we also have to assume that the painfully awful Beautiful Child has something to tell us, but that gives it undocumented credit. The play by Nicky Silver — a Philadelphian who lives in New York and wrote Pterodactyls, Raised in Captivity and a new book for the 2002 revival of musical The Boys from Syracuse — is a mish-mash. It begins with a dream, always a red flag, then goes into a scene with two characters telling each other the details of something they already both know well,  a second red flag.

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POSTED: Monday, January 23, 2012, 3:20 PM
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Susan McKey as a war-scarred photojournalist and Kevin Kelly as her significant other in "Time Stands Still" at Delaware Theatre Company. Photo by Matt Urban.

By Howard Shapiro

The issue in Donald Margulies’ engrossing drama Time Stands Still is not whether you can come home again. The issue is whether you can stay there.

In a beautifully wrought production at Delaware Theatre Company in Wilmington, the play comes off as both realistic and deeply felt by its characters. Time Stands Still is about a complex woman — a news photographer (Susan McKey) much more at home on a battlefield than in her real home in Brooklyn, which she shares with a writer (Kevin Kelly) who often works abroad with her.

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POSTED: Sunday, January 22, 2012, 8:48 PM

By Toby Zinman

A contempt-filled word: Bafu means traitor in Shona, the indigenous language in the African land that would become Zimbabwe, and The Convert is about betrayal. This world premiere at Princeton’s McCarter Theatre, written by Danai Gurira and directed by Emily Mann, boasts a cast that is beyond outstanding. The performances are so riveting that the play’s three hours fly by.

This is a conventional,  well-made  play that  almost feels as if it had been written in the late 19th century, when its action takes place; it has three acts, great curtain lines, a plot that has clarity, linearity, and a serious political agenda. The characters are familiar types yet distinct individuals, and it asks the question: Is it self-betrayal to aspire to be other than your native culture, which in this case means leaving your tribal village, learning English, embracing Christianity, wearing European clothing drinking tea with your pinky out?

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POSTED: Sunday, January 22, 2012, 12:50 AM

By Toby Zinman

Joe Turner’s Come and Gone is a big, strong, juicy play, and Plays & Players’ production is just as big, strong and juicy. Representing the second decade in August Wilson’s “Century Cycle,”  Joe Turner takes place a hundred years ago in 1911, a suitable choice for Plays & Players theater’s 100th anniversary. While the building may be old, the company is new, led by Daniel Student, who is rapidly proving himself a young director of range and vision.

Joe Turner was the brother of a governor of Tennessee who arbitrarily seized black men off the streets and forced them to work as slave labor for seven years. Herald Loomis (the excellent Kash Goins) , the mysterious, half-destroyed visionary figure at the center of Joe Turner, has spent three years since being freed walking with his young daughter Zonia (Lauryn Jones), searching for his wife. They arrive at a Pittsburgh boarding house -- the perfect locale to represent the comings and goings of the Northern Migration — run by the practical Seth Holly (James Tolbert) and his comforting wife, Bertha (Cherie Jazmyn). 

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POSTED: Friday, January 20, 2012, 5:19 PM
Filed Under: Theater

By Howard Shapiro

I went into the Wilma Theater the other day to cook. That’s right, cook. On stage. Actually Mary Martello, who plays one of the leads in Annie Baker’s comic drama Body Awareness, did the cooking — at a full kitchen that’s been built as part of Mimi Lien’s set for show.

Martello cooks in character as she delivers dialogue, and needs to be at a specific time in the action, needs to have finished making her soup so that the cast can then eat it. So there’s no messing up at the stove allowed.

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POSTED: Thursday, January 19, 2012, 11:57 PM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, Proof,  has found a perfect venue in the intimate Independence Studio on 3 at the Walnut Street Theatre. This luminous production, directed by Kate Galvin, invites you onto the porch  and into the lives of four interesting people.

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About this blog

Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of five books about modern and contemporary drama, and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). She was recently named by American Theatre magazine "one of the twelve most influential critics in America."

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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