Tag Archives: Opinion

THEATER REVIEW: “The Beautiful Laugh” at La Mama

Clowning is a respected art with a long history, distinct from other forms of theater. My understanding of clowning comes out of familiarity with more classical European traditions, such as Marcel Marceau and the Commedia Del Arte style captured so excellently in The Corn Exchange’s production of Dublin by Lamplight, or the Harlequin story as viewed through the memory of a production I saw at Tivoli, in Cophenhagen, when I was about seven years old. In these forms, it’s often the precision of physical movement that distinguishes the skilled from the unskilled performer.

The style of clowning used in That Beautiful Laugh is different. It is a physical kind of comedy, related – particularly in the case of performer Carlton Ward – to circus acts and Coney Island contortionists, but it is also a comedy of noises and expression.

At the top of the show, a narrator (Alan Tudyk of Firefly, Dollhouse, Suburgatory and more) explains that there are multiple kinds of laughs, and lists some – as we wind through the cyclical routines presented by Flan (Tudyk), Ian (Ward) and Darla Waffles Something (Julia Ogilvie), the audience is no doubt meant to experience some of these different kinds of laughs. Whether or not the ultimate laugh – that beautiful laugh – is attained is, I suspect, largely in the hands of the audience on any given night.

THEATER REVIEW: The Deepest Play Ever @ the New Ohio Theatre


Boo Killebrew, Chinasa Ogbuagu, TJ Witham & Jordan Barbour. Photo by Colin D. Young.

“I’m going to The Deepest Play Ever,” I told my friends on Wednesday, “and yes, that’s the actual title.” Which wasn’t exactly accurate. The full title of the production is “The Deepest Play Ever: The Catharsis of Pathos, The Post-Post-Apocalyptical Allegory of Mother LaMadre And Her Son Golden Calf OR: Zombies Will EAT Your Brain! AN EPIC TRAGIDRAMEDY.”

But I make a practice of shortening anything longer than a Fiona Apple album title, so.

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Theater Review: “Eternal Equinox” by Joyce Sachs, 59E59

Playing through March 31st, Eternal Equinox compares politics in relationships both creative and sexual. Vanessa Bell (Hollis McCarthy) and Duncan Grant (Michael Gabriel Goodfriend), two painters from the Bloomsbury groupr, spend the bulk of this full-length play trying to understand and negotiate their relationships with one another – particularly when others become involved.
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THEATER REVIEW: Outside People at the Vineyard Theatre

Down-and-out Brooklynite Malcolm (Matt Dellapina) heads to Beijing on the invitation of his college buddy Da Wei (also known as David, and played by Nelson Lee). There, he meets English tutor Xiao Mei (Li Jun Li), falls in love with her, and ultimately falls prey to the cynicism that comes hand in hand with believing everybody else wants a piece of your country. Ultimately, Malcolm leaves a burdgeoning romance thanks to a lack of faith in his lover’s motives.

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Halloween Theater with an Ugly Rhino: Warehouse of Horrors at the Brooklyn Lyceum

Sleep No More set off a reverberation through the NYC theater scene, becoming both a litmus test – did you see it? What did you think? Wasn’t it amazing? – among those able to attend and a measuring stick by which other companies judge themselves.
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THEATER REVIEW: “Two-Man Kidnapping Rule” at the New Ohio Theatre

Duane Coope (Vincent), Curran Connor (Jack) & Andy Lutz (Seth) in Joseph Gallo's "Two-Man Kidnapping Rule"

“One evening in the lives of three 20-something suburban friends who find themselves at a crossroads. A bittersweet look at a contemporary male friendship in decline.”

 

So described by the New Ohio Theatre, Joseph Gallo’s Two-Man Kidnapping Rule is a story that meanders at first – and could have done with some judicious cutting, particularly in the early stages of the work – but ultimately winds its themes and characters to their inevitable positions. While protagonist Jack (Curran Connor) finds a way to outgrow his old ex, his friend Vincent (Duane Cooper) and their buddy Seth (Andy Lutz), who has just proposed to his girlfriend, make journeys that are largely telegraphed, but still satisfying.

As the Barney Stinson of Gallo’s motley crew, Vincent is committed to protecting his relationship with his bros – no matter what the cost to their respective love lives. Over the course of the play, we learn about why he’s so committed to this – and why the titular “two-man kidnapping rule” is so sacred to him.

 
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THEATER REVIEW: “Brownsville Bred” at 59E59

The opening of Brownsville Bred takes the form of a mini multi-media presentation, with the text of the eponymous Brooklyn neighborhood’s Wikipedia entry scrolling over video images of the Langston Hughes projects. As a device, it’s a little contrived, and shows an unjustified lack of trust in the material that follows – which is a rich, poetic, and starkly honest portrayal of growing up in Brownsville in the 1980s.

The woman whose journey into adulthood we witness over the course of the evening is Elaine Del Valle, and even without the text introduction to the play, her performance was expressive enough that she filled in any blanks for those of us unfamiliar with Brownsville — or its reputation. Del Valle expresses a deftness with emotions through her performances, making it possible for the audience to travel with her through a range of experiences representing the life that eventually took this performer out of Brownsville.

 
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