That Was The Week That Was, 19 - 27 April '05"

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That Was
The SUMMER
That Was

2 - 18 September '05

People have the silly idea that there is no theater in Boston in the summer, which is ridiculous! Both the plays that THE PUBLICK THEATRE did out on the banks of the Charles ("Arcadia" & "Comedy of Errors"), the two shows I saw at Waltham's REAGLE PLAYERS ("Crazy for You" & "Carousel"), the visiting companies at the BCA ("Hal Harry Henry" by SHAKESPEARE EAST & "Slanguage" by UNIVERSES), the new SWEET APPLE THEATRE's "The Last Five Years", THE MIT COMMUNITY PLAYERS' ten-minute-play fest, THE HOVEY PLAYERS' fest --- and the one show my writer's block actually let me review (THEATRE COOPERATIVE's "Hamlet") --- all of them, and others give the lie to that rule of downturning thumbs.

Just look at this list:

UNcovered
23 jun PIECES OF WHITEY Rough & Tumble Theatre BCA
24 jun CRAZY FOR YOU Reagle Players
24 jun [ N Pilgrim Theatre (reading) BCA ]
6 jul PIPPIN Turtle Lane Playhouse
14 jul ARCADIA The Publick Theatre
15 jul YELLOW RIBBONS 11:11 Theatre Company ACTORS' WORKSHOP
21 jul CAROUSEL Reagle Players
22 jul HOVEY SUMMER ARTS FESTVAL B Abbott Memorial
22 jul HOVEY SUMMER ARTS FESTVAL A Abbott Memorial
29 jul [ REVENGE 50 FT./MOTHER NUN Queer Soup & Another Country BPT ]
30 jul WHAT CAN HAPPEN IN TEN MINUTES? MIT Community P. KRESGE
31 jul HAL HARRY HENRY Shakespeare East BCA
4 aug [ DIVISIBLUNDER Boston Theatre Works (reading) NCA ]
5 aug [ MAN ON DOG Boston Theatre Works (reading) NCA ]
6 aug [ NOT ENOUGH AIR Boston Theatre Works (reading) NCA ]
11 aug SLANGUAGE Universes COMPANY ONE BCA
12 aug HAMLET The Theatre Cooperative
18 aug THE FANTASTICKS Centre Stage Theatre ACTORS' WORKSHOP
19 aug THE LAST FIVE YEARS Sweet Apple Theatre DEVANAUGHN
25 aug ABYSSINIA North Shore Music Theatre SHUBERT THEATRE

I don't know why the writing-block persists. (My doctor has ordered a "sleep test" and talks with a psychiatrist; watch This Space!) Nor do I know what triggered the remission that let me review "The Story" and "Destruction" --- but this season has opened with an explosion of exciting new work all over the map: Covered
2 sep THE STORY Zeitgeist Stage BCA
7 sep DESTRUCTION Caleb Hammond & Co DEVANAUGHN THEATRE
8 sep COMEDY OF ERRORS The Publick Theatre
9 sep THE EDUCATED A & B Plus D Theatre @BOSTON PLAYWRIGHTS' THR.
10 sep LOVE Boston Actors Theater ACTORS' WORKSHOP
11 sep URINETOWN The Lyric Stage of Boston Inc.
16 sep N Pilgrim Theatre BCA
17 sep PAL JOEY Stoneham Theatre 92

8 sep COMEDY OF ERRORS The Publick Theatre

This was suddenly a New play. Since it's Shagsberd's first comedy, full of a lot of by-play and quips that have lost a lot of luster and suffered language-creep, people often opt for a lot of physical comedy. Instead, Diego Arciniegas actually trusted the text, and made sure that his actors polayed Real People genuinely perplexed by the strangenesses in the show. Their silent, surprised, confused faces often commanded bigger laughs than the insults exchanged by servants with masters.
But the part that surprised me most was the sincerity with which all the Women in this somewhat sexist show reacted to their state. Wronged wife, smitten sister, nun and cook and courtesan --- all looked like interesting People. This and the PUBLICK's "Arcadia" pretty much "book-ended" my summer with excellent theater.

9 sep THE EDUCATED A & B Plus D Theatre @BOSTON PLAYWRIGHTS' THR.

I felt this play a work-in-progress, a sketch ready to be explored and amplified and re-written. Its core is an argument over American society between a diehard Saudi Arabian militant and a countryman bewildered by the flush freedoms and lush opportunities of the country they are visiting. A not very subtle subtext eventually reveals both of them suicide-terrorists who have come into the country as students --- but the UNcritical Arab's point of view is over-stated, while the critical comes off so doctrinaire as to look unreal. With the argument thus stated, nothing is really at stake.
Playwright Donna Sorbello used a pair of women as metaphors for the two views of America: one a fellow-student falling in love, the other a stripper turning a trick --- though again only the lover and never the whore got a chance to explain themselves.
Technically, the play looked as though, whenever it grows up, it will turn out to be a tele-play not a stage play.
But those are just my own opinions. What are yours?

10 sep LOVE Boston Actors Theater ACTORS' WORKSHOP

This was the very first shoestring-production of another brand new theatrical company. The form was a series of scenes and monologues --- some from brand new plays by Bostonians! --- graphing the progress of love from initiation to heartbreak. Many actors were as young as the company, and employed several directors. The news was not the grasp, but the reach of aspirations so vibrantly obvious everywhere.
Break a leg all!

11 sep URINETOWN The Lyric Stage of Boston Inc.

The motor of this show is parody, in the sardonic style of Bertolt Brecht. Others will probably produce their catalogues of classic musicals that get sent up here --- my favorite is a "West Side Story" sequence that includes everything I always hated about this show! --- but what impressed me most was the wealth of energetic dancing from dancing choreographer Elyse Robbins. Whole masses of whirling bodies fill the Lyric playing-space again and again with fancy footwork and style. (I never knew Peter Carey was a dancer till now!)
That's not ALL that's excellent here, just what stood out for me as New.

16 sep N Pilgrim Theatre BCA

Peter Brook called this "holy theatre" --- the kind where the company Lives with a show for months, refining and reshuffling and remaking and re-re-remaking, even after letting an audience get a glimpse. The search is for Significant gesture, for shape and detail and meaning, using every possible theatrical means.
I've heard that the only person about whom more books have been written than Napoleon Bonepart is William Shakespeare --- with Hitler a scrawney third. The wars he fought throughout Europe cost Four Million Lives, and that only counts the FRENCH dead! He remade Europe, remade the world, remade society --- and ended his life mewed up by the English on a tiny island incapable of containing his reputation or his ego.
Laura Harrington's play takes place largely in this volcanic individual's mercurial mind as he comes reluctantly to terms with the flesh that will eventually die, and the legend that will outlive it. He argues with Joan of Arc about which of them symbolizes France, and feeds the rats boldly infesting his quarters. He is visited by his memories of Josephine, grudgingly befriended by his Irish doctor, insulted by his English Army jailor, served by his toadying butler and "served" as well by the butler's wife.
Time and history coil and wrinkle about the stage as this colossal egotist strides across the world indifferent to everone and everything except his own self-image. The conflict here is between the magnitude of his aspirations and the human truth of his confinement.
And, as is also true of any Pilgrim Theatre production, anything said about it, like Napoleon himself, can barely scratch the surface of its totality.

17 sep PAL JOEY Stoneham Theatre
Shall we say nothing of this polished gem, and pray for a real review to appear in my mind tomorrow morning?
Yes, let's!

As you see, this is already a big, bounteous season for Boston theater!

And, tomorrow night, there will be a new play ("Romeo & Juliet") in a whole new theatre (The NEW New Rep!) So --- cross fingers for me, and let's see what happens!

Love,
===Anon.


THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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