This is such an amazing play. It’s the sort of play that after reading or seeing it it’s a little hard to write because everything you put down looks so terrible in comparison. This production starring, Tracy Letts and Amy Morton,was terrific. It was the first time that I’d seen Pulitzer Prize winning playwright (For August:Osage County) act and I’m so impressed by him. There was a talk back after for Wesleyan alumni that I sort of snuck into and someone asked the cast why this play is Albee’s most popular and paraphrasing wildly Tracy Letts said something like, “Because it’s really good.”[Crowd laughs] “I think it’s very accessible. I think it’s about a relationship and whether you’ve been in healthy relationships or unhealthy relationships there’s things in this that people recognize. There’s also a lot of laughs in this play, and anytime you can get an audience laughing you can also get them to really listen. And I think at it’s heart the play is a love story, and for as dark as it gets I don’t think the play would endure as much as it has if the story didn’t end with a little bit of hope.”
This is one of the first plays I’ve been able to see while taking my directing class and really trying to think about how plays are directed. While I liked this play and thought it was well directed the thing that struck me most was how hard it was to see the director in a well directed play that doesn’t have an obvious concept. This play was well written and acted and topically, concerned the struggling middle class. The title of the play is not so much the location of the play as a metaphor for that decay.
This terrific and fun play was based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson and adapted for the stage by Rick Elice. I’ve never read the novel but Elice and co-directors Roger Rees and Alex Timbers did in an incredible job in making this story theatrical. It is equally incredible that the production, as great as it is, was able to retain all of it’s inventive physical theater magic while moving to Broadway and being produced by Disney. The set is beautiful and creative but very minor and inexpensive; part of a tropical island is made from layers of found shower curtains. Similarly, a tropical bird is creating by an actor flipping a yellow dish glove back and forth and a battle at sea is created with two toy ships on wheels. An amazing amount is done with just a rope and human bodies to create every special effect. Out of all the great actors, Christian Borle (seated center) stood out as Black Stache, the pirate later to be known as Captain Hook, who’s performance was over the top and heartfelt and always hilarious.
I really enjoyed this production and especially Nicole Ari Parker’s choices for Blanche. Her Blanche is very strong and sexual and funny. Blair Underwood was also very good and provoked a strong reaction from the loud female audience when he took his shirt off. After the play the woman behind me commented that she didn’t know anything about the play going in, she came “for the juicy man meat.” So, come for a very good production of a classic play, stay for the man meat.
This was another great production at Barrow Street from director David Cromer, who directed last year’s Our Town. The play, about a bickering, intellectual hearing family and their deaf son’s new relationship with a hearing woman who is going deaf, is able to be smart about so many interesting ideas while always feeling active and compelling. The design team was also great, especially the sound design and projections which makes you more conscious of what you can hear and what some people can’t.
This play had lots of really funny moments with all of the humor coming from honest acting and writing. Mary Louise Wilson was particularly great.
This was a terrifically written, directed and acted play. The “set” is an empty round space with arena like bleacher seating surrounding it. There are no props and no one ever mimes one. The actors never change costume. Each scene is separated by a tone with no light changes till the blackout at the end. Because of all of these things the play moved very fast and allowed you to imagine everything as you focused on the actors and the playwright’s words. In a very real feeling “sex” scene two actors stand looking at each other, their words letting you know what’s going on. The closest they ever got was pressing their foreheads together.