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Archive: March, 2012

POSTED: Thursday, March 8, 2012, 6:39 PM

By Wendy Rosenfield

Despite its backdrop of paved-over western mythology, Sam Shepard's Fool for Love is a rather intimate play for Iron Age Theatre. Though no strangers to Shepard's work -- they've produced The Tooth of Crime, Curse of the Starving Class, and Simpatico -- they're far more likely to take on work about labor issues, racism, or colonialism, and sometimes all at once.

But this, a bitterly comic drama that takes place in a motel room, with a fire-breathing love affair as its engine, is awfully close up for a company that favors the wide angle. With Shepard, the devil's in the details. It's Eddie, lassoing a metal chair and yanking it back with a smirk of juvenile satisfaction, or May, allowing her weary body to yield in Eddie's arms for just one brief, indulgent second before delivering a knee to his tarnished family jewels.

Wendy Rosenfield @ 6:39 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, March 8, 2012, 6:31 PM

By Wendy Rosenfield

Quintessence Theatre Group's mission is to tangle with the classics, and this time, they tackle Jean Anouilh's wartime adaptation of Sophocles' Antigone. A response to Nazi occupation of France, the tragedy, as reimagined for a 20th-century audience, trades the wrath of the gods for existential dilemma, allowing man and woman to blunder about on their own, making terrible decisions for terrible reasons.

Antigone, you may recall, is the daughter of Oedipus and daughter/granddaughter of Jocasta, both dead. Antigone's uncle Creon claimed Thebes' throne in their wake, and her brothers, Eteocles and Polynices, killed each other on the battlefield. It's a bad scene, and doesn't get any better when Creon declares Polynices a traitor, refuses him a proper burial, and discovers Antigone burying him anyway. Anouilh's Creon is a bureaucrat, Antigone an impulsive kid with big ideas, and both confuse pride with sacrifice.

Wendy Rosenfield @ 6:31 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, March 8, 2012, 6:23 PM

By Merilyn Jackson

Have you ever found yourself suddenly surrounded by dance, and in the least expected place? Maybe you couldn't quite grasp what was going on at first, but then you noticed people standing around or sitting on the grass, watching. If you've lived in Philadelphia for awhile and walked in Bartram Gardens, Fairmount Park, or Old City, or visited Swarthmore College's campus, or toured Eastern State Penitentiary, chances are you've been surprised at least once by dance.

Merilyn Jackson @ 6:23 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, March 8, 2012, 5:58 PM

By Jim Rutter

Imagine that José Garces and Stephen Starr joined forces. Now imagine that instead of building a new facility lined with exotic decor and a model-pretty staff, these celebrity chefs used the partnership to develop their own culinary aesthetic, and put the pursuit of cuisine ahead of a restaurant's sustainability.

A merger of similar stature and quality took place in the Philadelphia dance community recently, when dancer-choreographer Kate Watson-Wallace and choreographer-poet-impresario Jaamil Kosoko rechristened anonymous bodies, Watson-Wallace's company, as a joint collaborative for the pair's work.

Jim Rutter @ 5:58 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, March 8, 2012, 5:50 PM

]By Wendy Rosenfield

This isn’t easy to write, but it must be written: Philadelphia’s comedy sweethearts, Jennifer Childs and Tony Braithwaite, with their newest cabaret for 1812 Productions, Let’s Pretend We’re Famous, may have jumped the shark once and for all.

If you have a firsthand recollection of that last reference, you’ll get every other reference in the show, and will still wonder if Childs or Braithwaite has turned on a television in the last 30 years.

Wendy Rosenfield @ 5:50 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, March 8, 2012, 12:03 AM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Lantern Theatre Company’s Romeo and Juliet begins before it begins: fights on the street, stealthy comings and goings, women are grabbed, rich, high-born men are drunk and belligerent. Everyone is armed to the teeth—swords and knives—and then somebody says “Peace.” Yeah, right. What a place Verona is: feuds,  duels and havoc will, as they say, ensue. The young star-crossed lovers will, through their suicides, teach their parents the need for reconciliation.

Toby Zinman @ 12:03 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Sunday, March 4, 2012, 9:10 PM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

New City Stage’s production  of Terrorism, a contemporary play by the Russian Presnyakov Brothers, begins with a jolt before it begins: the stage is cordoned off with yellow “caution” tape and guarded by two armed soldiers. I had a brief bad moment when I wasn’t sure I wanted to take off my coat and sit down: maybe I should just leave while I could. Urban anxiety is never too far away.

Toby Zinman @ 9:10 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Sunday, March 4, 2012, 2:06 AM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Still peculiar after all these years.

Toby Zinman @ 2:06 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
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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