Cricket's Notebook "Monday, 4 January, 2010 - 9:38 p m: 'Take Back Your City!'"

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Monday, 18 March, 2010 - 12:28 a m:
"Sorrywise: Apologize!!"

First of all, please read This Review of "How I Learned to Drive" at B.U.

It's unfinished.
It should say something about the trio of students that played the "Greek Chorus" of minor roles, who "became" a number of widely different people each, with only a handful of lines to work with. And it should have ended with my admission that I had seen three, maybe four productions of Paula Vogel's deadly effective little play, and I thought that Tara L. Matkosky's was easily the very best this play had ever been done. If I had the time, I should have mentioned that the Boston University Theatre Department seemed --- on evidence of this, and last year's "A Question of Mercy" at least --- to be creating graduates on an extremely high level that rival the "products" of the Brown/Trinity consortium south of here.
But I fell asleep before I finished writing, and as time ground on I never found time to do the play justice.
My apologies to everyone who deserved better at my hands.

I might have ignored this lapse of responsibility --- if it didn't seem to be more the rule than they exception lately.
You see, back in the lazy days when I was seeing only two to four plays every week, I could insist that "I don't write reviews of plays I haven't liked. I may send a note to the director about why the silence, but the only one who derives any benefit from a negative review is the reviewer; and I'd rather talk about what I like than about what I don't."
Well, that was usually true.
But lately I've been seeing four to seven shows a week, and trying to get some sleep o'nights, and though I may have time to write something about all those shows, I don't very often get a chance to Think About what I write. The game, it seems to me, is not just to Write Something but to SAY Something, and these days that involves a little time for thought.
The worst result of this, though, is that many of my friends will have me linger after their shows, to gush somewhat incoherently about how much I liked the work --- and then see nothing quotable in The Mirror to back up those emotions. Ergo: Larry Stark must be a two-faced liar pretending to like what he won't review
I can Say "I never lie to actors" --- but....who knows? I mean, look at this list of shows I've seen; the written reviews are highlighted:

5 feb ONE FLEA SPARE Whistler in The Dark THE FACTORY 22
6 feb THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES Makeshift Theatre Company REGENT THEATRE ARLINGTON 23
11 feb BLOOD WEDDING Northeastern u. Department of Theatre STUDIO THEATRE 24
12 feb DRACULA Theatre @ First ELIZABETH PEABODY HOUSE 25
13 feb PRIVATE FEARS IN PUBLIC PLACES Zeitgeist Stage Company BCA 26
13 feb LES MISERABLES The Young Company STONEHAM THEATRE 27
14 feb NOT ENOUGH AIR Nora Theatre Company CENTRAL SQUARE THEATRE 28
14 feb SWORDS INTO PLOUGHSHARES Youth Underground Ensemble CENTRAL SQUARE THEATRE 29
III
17 feb ISLAND OF SLAVES Orfeo Group BCA 30
18 feb NEW ENGLAND RUSSIAN THEATRE FESTIVAL Lau Lapides Company BOSTON PLAYWRIGHTS' 31
19 feb THE MOONDOG MADRIGAL PUPPET SHOW Charlestown Working Theatre 32
20 feb MAN OF LA MANCHA Turtle Lane Playhouse 33
21 feb LEGACY OF LIGHT Lyric Stage of Boston Inc. 34
23 feb STICK FLY Huntington Theater Company BCA 35
24 feb HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE Boston Center for Am. Perf. STUDIO 210 B.U. 36
26 feb HONK! Wheelock Family Theatre 37
27 feb NEIGHBORHOOD 3: REQUISITION OF DOOM Apollinaire CHELSEA 38
=====MAR=====
1 mar [ THE EMPEROR JONES Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (READING) BCA ]
IV
2 mar [ MUSE ON FIRE Orfeo (LECTURE) BCA ]
4 mar [ PERFORMANCE SHOWCASE Boston University School of Theatre BU ]
6 mar BOOM New Repertory Downstage WATERTOWN 39
6 mar NEVERENDIA 11:11 Theatre Company THE FACTORY THEATRE 40
7 mar RENT Boston Conservatory Theater Ensemble MIDWAY STUDIOS 41
8 mar [ THE BLUE HOTEL Village Theatre Project (READING) BOSTON PLAYWRIGHTS' THEATRE ]
10 mar PARADISE LOST American Repertory Theatre LOEB DRAMA CENTER 42
11 mar WE ALL WILL BE RECEIVED Queer Soup HALL A BCA 43
12 mar APPLE Phoenix Theatre Artists/Company One BOSTON PLAYWRIGHTS' THEATRE 44
13 mar BOOK OF DAYS Vokes Players 45
V
13 mar THE DINOSAUR MUSICAL Stoneham Theatre 46
13 mar MARATHON Stoneham Theatre 47
14 mar MELANCHOLY PLAY Holland Productions THE FACTORY THEATRE 48

You can see how many UNreviewed plays there are, right?

Actually, my problem began quite a while back.
After turning out reviews of a Surprising streak of excellent plays at the beginning of the year, I came upon this:
5 feb ONE FLEA SPARE Whistler in The Dark THE FACTORY 22

This should have been a slam-dunk: a play I'd seen and liked once, done by a crew of beloved old friends in my favorite Boston play-space. I loved it, I loved them, I came home and --- couldn't think of any way to express my appreciation. Everyone connected did everything right --- everyone, but me.

Then came this:
17 feb ISLAND OF SLAVES Orfeo Group BCA 30

The Orfeo Group is special. They are mostly young people with Equity or near-Equity experience who have decided to work together on challenging classics, and to experiment with ticket-policy.
They have done some shows for free; as a matter of fact, the first week of this show "sold out" every seat for free. But on the first night of the second week, the Wednesday I saw it, their first paid audience hardly outnumbered the cast. The word-of-mouth about this quite witty version of a 300-year-old social satire obviously hadn't yet excited the "critical mass" that should bounce back at this comedy. I owed it to my friends to turn out an appreciative review that would tell people what they were missing.
I didn't.

There were different things that had to be said about this one:
21 feb LEGACY OF LIGHT Lyric Stage of Boston Inc. 34

The major interest here seemed the cast. It was a Lyric Stage production, but Diego Arciniegas and Suzanne Nitter --- who have kept The Publick Theatre alive despite severe declines in public funding --- were joined on stage by Sarah Newhouse, who has been a driving force in the Actors' Shakespeare Project. Arciniegas and Newhouse played Voltaire and his mistress Emilie, and Allan Mayo Jr., Jonathan Popp, and Rosalie Norris divided themselves, playing people both in the Voltaire story and contemporaries.
Karen Zacarias' script tackled the dilemma women have: whether to throw themselves into creative or scientific discoveries, or to take time off to become baby-makers.
And the play had a genuinely "eloquent" set by Janie E. Howland. The stage had a playing-area backed by a wall on which changing scenes could be projected; but it had a central door through which could be seen a colorful nebula representing the scientific universe women in both centuries were attempting to understand.
Not only that, the show was directed by Lois Roach, who has often been "type-cast" as director of Black plays, but needs no such pidgeon-hole.
What an opportunity to do a really juicy review, right? But I didn't.

Then, I had an opportunity to talk about what I like and don't like in Children's plays:
26 feb HONK! Wheelock Family Theatre 37

The fact was, I loved this musical. There were exactly enough shameless puns and groaners for the grown-ups, enough color and action and dance to captivate the kiddies, and a huge cast who enjoyed themselves and enjoyed an enthralled audience. In the center playing a Mother Duck in flat-heeled orange slippers was Aimee Doherty, Peter A. Carey's Bullfrog got to shuffle-off-to-Buffalo, and I had a ball! The audience, young or not, always had something exciting to focus on, and so did I.

And in quite a different way, there was another show that involved children:
6 mar NEVERENDIA 11:11 Theatre Company THE FACTORY THEATRE 40

Brian Tuttle is a continual cornucopia of new plays, and this one is a gem. It had grown actors playing children and building a magical land of not exactly make-believe, beginning on a day when a snow-storm kept them home from school and made their street into a landscape. With the rampant imagination of one girl leading them on they set off on adventures and quests, attempting, when they had to, to avoid entrapment by the matter-of-fact world of teachers and parents. Tuttle and his 11:11 cast easily proved that the world of the imagination is the only place to be.

Okay, those are a few of the plays I must apologize to. I could have --- Should have --- done more complete reviews of all of them, and probably at least a dozen others. And even now, taking this night to whip off these few mini-reviews, I have had to ignore three or four plays I've seen since "Foreverendia". Sorry-wise: Apologize!

And you know what irks me most?
It's that playwright Sarah Ruhl has insisted that neither I nor any other reviewer may say even One Word about the magnificent Holland Productions presentation, at The Factory Theatre, of her "Melancholy Play". She won't let me say a word about Philana Mia's oh so sexy stockings, or the plethora of chandeliers that Mac Young hung in The Factory; I can't even wonder whether Fight Director Olivia Rizzo or Choreographic Consultant Chris Carcioni was the muscle behind that battle/ballet, nor speculate on the origins of the game of Duck, Duck, Goose. I don't think I am a nut --- not really, not Exactly at least --- but I must say Sarah Ruhl insists on playing tennis without a net.

I'm just lucky I like tennis!

(Go see for yourselves!)

Love,
===Anon.
( a k a larry stark)


THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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