All in Play

REVIEW: Now on Broadway, “What the Constitution Means to Me” is a stirring act of resistance

To see Heidi Schreck’s “What the Constitution Means to Me” is to participate in an act of resistance, of reclaiming hope for the future by doing the hard work of grappling with the past.  Part civics lesson, part memoir, Schreck recounts her formative experience of wrestling with the constitution’s meaning as a teenager through the lens of her adult self, the women in her family, and the bitterly divided nation it serves.  It is the most important play of this or any season—an act of profound social consciousness expanding, community building, and democratic participation—and a must-see.

REVIEW: John Guare’s bizarre and aptly named “Nantucket Sleigh Ride”

Lincoln Center Theater presents a strange, funny, and somewhat confounding new comedy by esteemed playwright John Guare that is a bizarre romp through the recesses of memory and the meaning of story.  Tautly told and energetically performed, the play remains entertaining, though incomplete—a great whale that Mr. Guare has harpooned for audiences to follow in our own “Nantucket Sleigh Ride”.

REVIEW: Isabelle Huppert in “The Mother”

Isabelle Huppert offers a devastating portrait of maternal sublimation and abandonment in Florian Zeller’s disturbing and disorienting dark comedy, “The Mother”.  Under the brilliant direction of Trip Cullman, the play offers a highly theatrical, distorted, collage-like, meditative, and surreal look at one woman coping with an empty nest, a loveless marriage, and a purposeless life.  My advice: get tickets if you can.  And call your mother.

REIVEW: “The Cake”

Drawing from the headlines, in Bekah Brunstetter’s “The Cake” Debra Jo Rupp gives a fantastic, full dimensional performance as a lovable, conservative baker who struggles with the decision to bake a wedding cake for her surrogate daughter’s same sex wedding.  Despite a great performance and a gorgeous production, the play contains a dated treatment of its gay characters and their milieu, presenting an incongruous and ultimately flawed portrait of the relevant issues at hand. 

REVIEWS: “Sea Wall / A Life”, “Mies Julie”, and “The Dance of Death”

Two duos of complementary works recently opened Off-Broadway: “Sea Wall / A Life” at the Public Theater, featuring Tom Sturridge and Jake Gyllenhaal performing monologues by Simon Stephens and Nick Payne, and Classic Stage Company’s repertory presentation of “Mies Julie” and “The Dance of Death”, two newly adapted works of August Strindberg.  This is a short look at each.

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.