All in Play

REVIEW: Loy A. Webb’s explosive and exquisite “The Light” at MCC Theater

“The Light” is an urgent and painful story of revelation, redress, and hopeful reconciliation cued at the intersection of #MeToo and Black Lives Matter.  Tautly and evocatively sketched by playwright Loy A. Webb, this exquisite two-hander starts like a rom-com before embarking on tragic territory, forcing the audience to reckon with its own baked-in biases and assumptions based on race and gender, and to do and be better.

REVIEW: A kaleidoscopic look at life in “Joan”

In “Joan”, playwright Stephen Belber ambitiously sets out to tell one, non-linear story of a woman’s life that slowly creates an absorbing and dramatically effective portrait, at once banal and spellbinding.  Johanna Day is exquisite as the titular character, supported by two chameleons who play all the supporting roles.  The drama is straightforward, and the production taut.

REVIEW: “The Convent”

In Jessica Dickey’s new play “The Convent” a group of women participate in a retreat at a medieval convent in the South of France; the play boasts a promising and intriguing setup that is, unfortunately, bungled in execution due to underdeveloped characters and an imbalanced tone.

REVIEW: “Choir Boy” sings and soars

The Broadway premiere of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s “Choir Boy” at Manhattan Theatre Club, finely acted and beautifully told, is transcendent.  The very presence of this play on Broadway about a black, queer teenage boy navigating private, Christian Prep school life is seismic, and Jeremy Pope offers a memorable debut in this timely and important work.

REVIEW: “Slave Play”

Jeremy O. Harrison’s scintillating debut play, “Slave Play” at New York Theatre Workshop, is not what you think it is, packing twists, some heavy satire, graphic sexuality, and an important discourse on race, gender, and sexuality in contemporary America.  To write about it is to spoil its surprises, but this sold out run will no doubt inspire future productions.

REVIEW: A prophet emerges in “Network” starring Bryan Cranston

Ivo van Hove brings his signature style to an intense and intelligent stage production of Paddy Chayefsky’s prophetic 1976 film “Network”.  An easy highlight of the Broadway season, Bryan Cranston gives a Tony Award-worthy performance as news anchor Howard Beale’s descent into a rage-filled demagogue.  The message is the medium, and vice versa, in this technically brilliant and thrilling new drama. 

REVIEWS: “King Kong” and “The Making of King Kong”

In this comparative review, I take a look at the $35M “King Kong” musical on Broadway—complete with its thrilling stagecraft and lackluster material underneath—and the decidedly low-budget Off-Off-Broadway play, “The Making of King Kong”—a playful deconstruction of the “Kong” myth and its attendant problems of white patriarchy, colonialism, and sexism.

REVIEW: Elaine May devastates in “The Waverly Gallery”

Elaine May gives a searingly painful and simply heartbreaking performance as a woman descending into dementia in Kenneth Lonergan’s quietly sad play “The Waverly Gallery”.  Marking the Broadway debuts of director Lila Neugebauer and actor Lucas Hedges, this naturalistic memory play is a stunning achievement in dramatizing the indignity of aging and the emotional impact of long-term care on a family unit.  Perhaps Mr. Lonergan’s best play, Elaine May’s performance alone is worth the price of admission.

REVIEW: A triumphant “Torch Song” back on Broadway

Following a hit run Off-Broadway last year, Harvey Fierstein’s landmark gay play “Torch Song” is back on Broadway with an abridged text and title, but its heart and humanity intact.  On second viewing, this production feels more muted and a bit too comfortable, but the performances are richer and better, and the subject matter as timely as ever.  An uproarious comedy with a suite of characters you come to love, “Torch Song” is a must-see of the fall (or any) season.