The Weeks of Knee Brace, 6 - 19 February '06"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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The Weeks of Knee Brace

MONDAY 6 - SUNDAY 19 FEBRUARY:

"Covered"

8 feb TOM CREAN, ANTARCTIC EXPLORER Sugan Theatre Company BCA
11 feb FROZEN New Repertory Theatre
16 feb FIVE BY TENN SpeakEasy Stage Company BCA
17 feb THE BIG APPLE Image Theatre LOWELL MA
18 feb UNDER THE LINTEL Mill6 Collaborative DEVANAUGHN

I reviewed TOM CREAN, ANTARCTIC EXPLORER, but the experience of that show included walking all the way to the StonyBrook T Station, and from the Back Bay stop over to the BCA with my knee in a brace (so it couldn't bend) using crutches --- and already aware that ONE Crutch would have been sufficient and, frankly, easier to manipulate.

So getting to see "Tom Crean" was, for me, a double triumph. Despite the cautions of friends advising two crutches --- or even cabs! --- I got there, uneventfully, on my own steam --- and what I got to was A THEATRE! For the first time in seventeen days I was, finally, back Home. And the play ... was WONNNderful. Not only that, the only non-professional (he teaches history) person who sees more plays than I do was there, and gave me a ride home through the increasingly chilling air.
Who says it's silly to worship THESPIS ?!?!?

11 feb FROZEN New Repertory Theatre

If "Crean" was a dream, FROZEN was a nightmare
Not the show; that was, as everyone told me, a must-see miracle challenging every expectation and brilliantly acted by Nancy E. Carroll, Adrianne Hewlett and Bates Wilder and sculpted into perfection by Adam Zahler's direction. Bryony Lavery's play was mostly monologues or two-person colloquys, with characters marching forward from their individual closets onto a pure-white landscape that set the emotional scene.

No, the taxis were the nightmare. It took me half an hour of trying phone numbers before a Human Being answered, the ride over to Watertown cost $37 Before Tip, and I got there fifteen ghodamnit minutes into this Brilliant Play!
Blasphemy!
I didn't have money enough to taxi home, and public transportation at the Arsenal Center for The Arts at that time is a mystery. I ended up cabbing to Harvard Square for a chilly T-ride home. And every inch of the way I felt I owed the New Rep, the actors, and The Play a regretful apology.

16 feb FIVE BY TENN SpeakEasy Stage Company BCA

Once again, the "must-see" word-of-mouth proved correct.
Janie E. Howland's set, even before the show started, said "Tennessee Williams" so loudly and eloquently as to whet one's appetite. Black wrought-iron fillagree outlined a two-level set, with an ornate curving staircase to stage-right, and lace curtains that could stretch most of the way across the lower playing area. An aura of elegantly tawdry under Karen Perlow's precise lighting defined the playwright's world.

This is Director Scott Edmiston's play. Out of a newly published collection of Thirty early plays by a young Tennessee Williams, Edmiston chose five, and then strung them together like carefully arranged pearls as a sort of episodic portrait of the playwright as a young man.

Inevitably, the show is about the raw, unsettling confrontation of Gay with Queer, in terms that are pure poetry. A young man, bewildered by himself and the world and his place in it, is more observer than participant in the lacy, shredding edges of that world. More and more, the plays spiral inward, toward poetic unreality. What Edmiston has made --- and I do believe he deserves a co-creator credit here --- is a re-introduction to Williams' work and its importance in the history of theater. Those familiar with any of his major works will see hints and memories of them everywhere; those who are not will be encouraged to find and love them.

The final pair of plays, in my mind at least, are about death. Even the title "I Can't Imagine Tomorrow" implies that, with the inarticulate young man confronting one old enough to realize and accept the fact of the ends of things.
The last play "Mister Paradise" can be seen as a ruined playwright's diatribe against obtuse critics coupled with a ringing defense of theatrical poetry as the hope of the world. But a director's note in the program suggests that the date of its writing us unclear --- with which I presume to argue:
Though delicately, faintly, the Second World War is broodingly invoked in the opening and closing scenes of "The Glass Menagerie" where a sailor having torn himself more or less free of his cinging family memories re-lives them. But the wider world he has elected to become an actor in is a world at war, and the dangers of U-boats are as real in those scenes as Laura's candles and her glass animals.
In "Mister Paradise" the old, forgotten, remaindered poet a young girl wishes to resurrect and make famous refuses her gift. The world, he says, needs Gunpowder more than Poetry, and only when the gunpowder has been exhausted will people be able to remember that it is really poems (and plays!) that make the world worth living. As those words ended "Five by Tenn" I heard, not the old, discredited playwright tired but indomitable after the critical-wars, but that young seaman on the Murmansk-Run into war and gunpowder still aware of the necessary power of poetry. So I date it at the first months of 1942.
But I am a strange old man.

17 feb THE BIG APPLE Image Theatre LOWELL MA

I have Jerry Bisantz to thank for this show, and the cast-gathering at FORTUNATO'S Italian Steakhouse (48 Palmer Street in Lowell) after the show.
I did a full review, and I hope when it plays here in Boston The Image Theater can keep this original cast together.
Break a leg all!

18 feb UNDER THE LINTEL Mill6 Collaborative DEVANAUGHN

This is another deserving a full review --- a weirdly compelling solo-play --- so I'm going to get to sleep and do the review tomorrow.
I want to get this into The Mirror before it goes stale!
Love,
===Anon.

This is, to date, a preview of
WHERE WILL LARRY BE?

22 feb "The Possibilities" @ the new WHISTLER IN THE DARK @ Charlestown Working
23 feb "Flesh & Blood" Zeitgeist @ BCA
24 feb "Set in Sand" 11:11 Company @ BOSTON PLAYWRIGHTS'
25 feb "Tape" As Yet To Be @ COMMUNITY CHURCH OF BOSTON
2 mar "Amadeus" @ Vokes Players (w/Bernice & Andy)
3 mar "Buried Child" @ Hovey Players
4 mar "The Fox" Basement on The Hill @ BCA

Love,
===Anon.


THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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