Tag Archives: review

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.

Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

THEATER REVIEW: “Righteous Money” at the Kraine Theater

As a latter day Jim Cramer, CJ (Michael Yates Crowley) hosts “Righteous Money,” a blinged-up version of Cramer’s own Mad Money. The audience sits amidst the trappings of a TV studio (a monitor, a camera, and references to an off-stage producer), but the events taking place on stage would have any TV show cut off within minutes. The conceit falls through almost immediately, and from there on out Righteous Money (also the title of the play) is hard to take seriously.

There’s no throughline of sociopathy in Crowley’s character, thanks to a bizarre breakdown that includes his confessing to an one-night-stand-with-some-meaning-thrown-in with one of the interns. Not for a moment did I believe any of CJ’s confessions regarding having true feelings for “Nathan,” the intern, and given the enormous dose of self-confidence Crowley has given his character, there were times when director Michael Rau could have brought greater depth to the material – for example (and not that I was hankering for nudity), after CJ spends time bragging about his physical appearance and noting the fact that he sleeps naked, why does he only strip to his boxers when spanking himself for the camera? This lack of logic extends to things like CJ’s producer allowing him to remain on the air, and even to the sort of things he says while railing against his assistant. His “freakout” may be realistic, but it fails at providing a cogent dramatic through-line to the play.

CJ’s philosophy of money is entertaining – he wants his audience to have access to what he calls “righteous” money – money they deserve, and money beyond what they dream possible – but his repeated references to a non-present “woman guest” Suze Orman soon grow tired.

Righteous Money features a rich topic, perfect (metatextual) timing, and a lead performer who we very much want to like. In the end, though, it never quite achieves liftoff.

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.

Continue reading

THEATRE REVIEW: Hedwig & The Angry Inch at ALT Theatre

What is completeness? What is love? According to the philosophy of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the search for love is an endeavor to re-unite once-whole souls who’ve been split apart by the gods. At its most basic, this is a story about how one person seeks their “other half” – only to discover that strength, love and completeness come from within, not from one’s constructed self-image.

Continue reading

THEATER REVIEW: “Fairytale” from The Shelter at the 45th Street Theatre

Fairy Tale is collaborative company The Shelter’s set of five short plays inspired by classic fairy tales. Their inspiration spans cultures and languages, tackling both traditional retellings and total re-imaginings. Solidly produced with exceptional production values, the play begins and ends with playful, animal-masked mechanicals, a whimsical turn that sets a magical mood.
Continue reading