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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: October, 2011

POSTED: Monday, October 31, 2011, 9:29 AM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Piradello dunks his Proustian madeleine into his tea and suddenly lines blur between character and actor, illusion and reality, autobiography and fiction, past and present.  Others present at the tea party are Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neill. Latecomers include Lady Macbeth and Medea.

Toby Zinman @ 9:29 AM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Monday, October 31, 2011, 9:22 AM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Everybody who’s been to China comes back with examples of signs where the translations are hilariously wrong. My favorite was a very tempting warning sign near a pier: “Caution. Danger. Do not caper.”  The plot of David Henry Hwang’s new play, Chinglish, turns on an American businessman who runs a sign company in Cleveland; he goes to China hoping to do a deal to provide accurately translated signs for “the world’s largest number of untapped consumers.”

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POSTED: Monday, October 31, 2011, 3:15 PM
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Luigi Sottile and Dito van Reigersberg in "The Myster of Irma Vep" at Ambler's Act II Playhouse. Photo by Bill D'Agostino.

By Howard Shapiro
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall during reheasals for the frantic production of The Mystery of Irma Vep, which is unraveling, or detonating, or maybe mushrooming, on the stage of Ambler’s Act II Playhouse.

But it would have been nihilistic — I’d be splattered within moments of landing on the scenery. This version of Charles Ludlam’s classic quick-change goof gets funnier as it moves into a second act that just can’t stop, with more stage business than a Shubert Organization exec.

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POSTED: Friday, October 28, 2011, 11:58 PM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Dumb and Dumber’s adventures in corporate America: Adam Szymkowicz’s new comedy, The Fat Cat Killers, couldn’t be better timed, what with protests against the money establishment making headlines from sea to shining sea. Flashpoint Theatre Company’s  production offers three excellent performances and satiric, if naïve, insights into the heartlessness  big business.

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POSTED: Friday, October 28, 2011, 6:21 PM
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Roy Steinberg as artist Mark Rothko and RJ Barnett as his assistant in "Red" at Cape May Stage.

By Howard Shapiro
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

In an unusual turn, the rights to a hot play --Red, which won the best-play Tony on Broadway two years ago -- were granted to not one, but two professional theater companies in the wider Philadelphia region. The play is now running at Philadelphia Theatre Company in Center City, and also opened Thursday night at the Shore, at Cape May Stage.

Seeing both is like seeing two different plays. My colleague Toby Zinman has already chronicled the virtues of Red at the Philadelphia Theatre Company, where Stephen Rowe plays the late, tormented painter Mark Rothko and Haley Joel Osment, his young assistant. Zinman notes the way John Logan's play covers "a good deal about art and art history and creative passion and the crass spectre of commerce that looms over the high-end art market."

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POSTED: Wednesday, October 26, 2011, 11:02 PM
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Janis Dardaris (left) and Victoria Frings in InterAct Theatre Company's "The How and the Why."

By Howard Shapiro
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

In The How and the Why, two women meet, discover they are both (of all things) evolutionary biologists -- at the opposite ends of their careers -- and enter into a dialogue that reveals as much about their present identities as it does about their pasts.

The How and the Why, robust and real in performances by Janis Dardaris and Victoria Frings, opened Wednesday night in a production by InterAct Theatre Company. The play, a two-scene piece with an intermission, was originally staged earlier this year at Princeton’s McCarter Theatre and is written by Sarah Treem, the writer and producer of HBO’s In Treatment.

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POSTED: Wednesday, October 26, 2011, 6:28 PM
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Stephanie Roth Haberle is Phaedra and Julio Monge is the ghost of her half-brother/half-bull, the Minotaur, in the world-premiere "Phaedra Backwards" at Princeton's McCarter Theatre.

By Howard Shapiro
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

In the dark, enticing world-premiere production of Phaedra Backwards, which is evermore galvanizing as it unfolds on the main stage of Princeton’s McCarter Theatre, myth seems somehow very real.
 
Yes, Irish playwright Marina Carr’s version of the Phaedra story is updated, but not wildly; it’s not re-set in an office park in Greece or anything like that. The modernity comes in the language — searing and coarse and oddly beautiful, because Carr cooks up muscular dialogue with no place for leftovers on the plate.

This modern version also begins at the end, which is how it gets its title, then shifts back to the beginning, with memory scenes all along the way that take us back and forth through time.

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POSTED: Monday, October 24, 2011, 1:23 PM
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Benim Foster as Shylock walks through the dangerous masked crowd in Quintessence Theatre Group's "The Merchant of Venice."

By Howard Shapiro
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

The excellent, fast-moving rendition of The Merchant of Venice by Quintessence Theatre Group at the Sedgwick in Mount Airy is all the more interesting for its choices.

Quintessence artistic director Alexander Burns lets William Shakespeare's tale flow like the river of nastiness it is — a comedy because it follows the Elizabethan rule that it end with marriages, but a revenge play many see nowadays as a repellent portrait of Jews and Christians alike.

howard shapiro @ 1:23 PM  Permalink | 0
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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