Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Archive: November, 2011

POSTED: Wednesday, November 9, 2011, 4:55 PM
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Rosaleen Linehan, Des Keogh & Owen Roe in the Gate Theatre's production of Beckett's ''Endgame'' at Annenberg Center. Photo by Jeff Clarke.

By Howard Shapiro

For a fan of absurdist playwright Samuel Beckett, is there anything as comforting as seeing two large garbage cans on stage when the curtain comes up on Endgame? A pair of his great oddballs, Nell and Nagg, will pop their heads from those cans, as they always do, to further elucidate or confuse things.

The cans are a sign that a modern classic is about to begin, perhaps the last thing Beckett, who died in 1989, would have wanted: people becoming comfortable with his plays, knowing what to expect and even anticipating their own takes on it.

howard shapiro @ 4:55 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, November 8, 2011, 10:08 PM

By Toby Zinman
For the Inquirer

Venus in Fur (no s) is  a dazzling play by the endlessly surprising playwright David Ives about a playwright (Hugh Dancy) and an actress (Nina Arianda) who is auditioning for the lead in his new sado-masochistic play.

Venus in Furs is the title of a 19th-century novel by Leopold Sacher-Masoch (whose name gave us the M part of the label S&M), about a man exploring his psychosexual need to be tortured and enslaved by a woman; this is the novel the playwright, Thomas, has adapted for the stage.

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POSTED: Monday, November 7, 2011, 1:40 PM

By Wendy Rosenfield

So here’s a real surprise: On the third floor of Plays and Players Theatre, there’s a world premiere by an under-the-radar local playwright -- Joy Cutler -- filled with amateur actors, directed by a relative newcomer. All outward signs indicate a hot mess; instead, it’s a blast.

Cutler’s oddball black comedy, Pardon My Invasion, features an AWOL Iraq war soldier hiding, Exorcist-style, inside the body of Penny, a 13-year-old American girl whose single mother Rita (Jennifer Summerfield) writes pulpy detective novels for a living. And that synopsis only covers the first few scenes.

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POSTED: Monday, November 7, 2011, 12:32 PM

By Jim Rutter

Most romantic comedies succeed by indulging fantasy: men want to date out of their league; women want a nice guy they can whip into a socially respectable man.

Robin Pond’s Even Steven, at the Walnut's Studio 5, borrows the rom-com backdrop but toys with the formula. Teddy (Matt Dell’Olio) and Sarah (Stephanie Lauren) broke up after three years, when she dumped him because his slacker lifestyle no longer fit her careerist ambitions. (That, and a Porsche-driving lawyer took her out a few times, then vanished.)

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POSTED: Sunday, November 6, 2011, 9:44 AM

By Wendy Rosenfield

For the Inquirer

Like any good sports drama, Iron Age Theater’s world premiere production of Ray Saraceni’s Maroons: The Anthracite Gridiron covers as much action off the field as in the game; maybe more. And like the most successful efforts in its genre, filmed, staged or literary, Saraceni connects the thrills and agonies of winning and losing, the struggle against all odds, to their parallels outside the stadium. 

Wendy Rosenfield @ 9:44 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, November 4, 2011, 2:11 PM


By Merilyn Jackson

Tui is the Maori name for a black bird with a small white tuft at its throat. When the English came to New Zealand, its native habitat, they named it the parson bird. Tuis are honey eaters; they have two voice boxes, and some of their sounds range beyond human hearing. On opening night at Subcircle's Christ Church fall run, called Seed, Gin MacCallum and Niki Cousineau danced like two wavering voices that hushed us and left us craving to hear and see them.

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POSTED: Thursday, November 3, 2011, 8:52 PM

By Jim Rutter

Too many writers bank on early success and never expand their literary boundaries. Madi Distefano sprang onto the nascent Philadelphia theater scene in the mid-1990s and for a dozen years slashed her pen across the page in epic, edgy scripts about burnt-out youths chasing dreams of punk superstardom.

Fifteen years later, she’s set a different task. After staging small-cast, quick-costume-change shows like Greater Tuna and The Mystery of Irma Vep, Distefano has penned a quick-changer of her own in Meanwhile ..., now in its world premiere with Brat Productions.

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POSTED: Thursday, November 3, 2011, 1:24 AM
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James Ijames (left), Cody Nickell and Johnnie Hobbs Jr. in Arden Theatre Company's production of "The Whipping Man." Outside that little window on the upper right: Dark and stormy. Photo by Mark Garvin

By Howard Shapiro

It was a dark and stormy night.

No, really. So dark and so stormy in the play The Whipping Man, or maybe just in Arden Theatre Company’s production of it, that The Constant Metaphor blasts you from the first crash of thunder to the last flash of lightning, when mist and fog are rolling in through a door and rain pours through the show’s sound design.

howard shapiro @ 1:24 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
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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