All in Play

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.

REVIEW: “Usual Girls”

Ming Peiffer’s shattering new play, “Usual Girls”, presented in a world premiere through Roundabout’s Underground series, offers a blistering dramatization of rape culture through the lens of one Korean-American woman’s journey from girlhood to adulthood.  Raw, explicit, and joltingly explosive, this is a bold and important new play.

REVIEW: Kerry Washington in “American Son”

“American Son”, a gripping new play on Broadway, is piercingly of the moment, thunderously bleak, written in all caps, and indulgently depressing.  Kerry Washington gives a devastating performance as a black mother living the nightmare of her son interacting with the police, but blunt writing provides shorthanded dialogue and characterizations that are unrealistic and convenient—tooled for the sake of advancing arguments, and provoking the audience, rather effectively serving a coherent social or political mission. 

REVIEW: Simply ravishing, Jez Butterworth’s “The Ferryman” is a must-see masterpiece

Jez Butterworth’s “The Ferryman” is an ecstatic and richly thrillingly new play about the intimate, domestic effects of “The Troubles” on one large, Irish family; a sprawling epic with a 22 person cast and running time over three hours, “The Ferryman” is a titanic dramatic achievement, and a must-see event of the season.  In short: a masterpiece without present peer on Broadway.

REVIEW: Jocelyn Bioh’s brilliant “School Girls; or, the African Mean Girls Play” returns to MCC for an encore run

Jocelyn Bioh’s brilliant play “School Girls; or, the African Mean Girls Play” is back at the Lucille Lortel Theatre for an encore engagement by MCC Theater; every bit as funny and devastating as it was when I saw it last fall, the play seems to pop and sizzle even more on a second viewing. Check out my review and get tickets now.