These Were Two Weeks That Were, 26 October - 7 November '05"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


These Were
Two Weeks
That Were

26 October - 8 November '05

26 oct CAROL MULRONEY Huntington Theatre Company BCA 109
27 oct A NUMBER Lyric Stage of Boston INC 110
29 oct LORD OF THE FLIES Wheelock Family Theatre 111
3 nov THE FULL MONTY North Shore Music Theatre 112
5 nov [ Peter & Greg Brennan's Birthday Party ]

8 November:
I should be at the CentaStage Cabaret of New BOSTON Songs tonight, but I have come down with a cold. I hope the last two days of party and play were occasions where I was Contracting the cold and not passig it on to everyone else.
The very good news is that the Tuesday performance of SLAMboston by Another Country Productions was entirely sold out long before the show. Sadly though, it was the only free day I had to see the new playlets there. Ah well, next tiome for sure!
So instead, I have a day or two in which Maybe I can give these six plays the lick-and-a-promise I'll have time for, though most of them deserve full-review attention.
I find myself telling people I have to turn down that I can See shows and sometimes I can Write about shows, but there seems little time in which to Think about what to Say! (And then there's all that eating and sleeping shit that has to be fitted in somehow...
But, since Robb Bettencourt brought it up, I should give some words to:

26 oct CAROL MULRONEY Huntington Theatre Company BCA 109

Robbcomplains that I should have done the work of writing a full review.
But Stephen Belber should have done the work of writing A PLAY as well --- and in my eyes, he didn't. I learned some things about the title-character and the people in her life, but I never learned anything amazingly interesting, compelling, or revealing. I still know nothing of why, in the middle of the evening, she left the same note her suicide mother did, and threw herself off the very beautiful roof which was made by Rachel Hauck's scenery and Alexander V. Nichols' lights. They, and the actors (Some of them deserve IRNE Awards.) , and Director Lisa Peterson did everything they could to make these people interesting --- but the playwright simply didn't.
And, with that said, I wonder why Artistic Director Nicholas Martin spent all that time and all that money on a play that was nowhere near ready for full production. I trust a serious re-write will be attempted before the show stumbles doggedly toward a Big Apple production.

27 oct A NUMBER Lyric Stage of Boston INC 110

This is a highly abstract "theme and variations" kind of play, and again Steve McConnell and Lewis D. Wheeler, Directed by Spiro Veloudos, explore every available square inch of the text. In each case, three or four young men --- who are really his clones --- confront the man they know as their father, each one with a completely different angle on that unsettling situation. Caryl Churchill's plays often look like games, and she's always looking for new ways to expand the theater's ways of making plays. In this case, it's the shock of, on the one hand, learning that not one but "A Number" of clones are alive, and on the other confrontation with the sudden news of being an only slightly unique carbon-copy --- that's the situation in these three variations, on Skip Curtiss' airless, almost Sam Beckett set. And since it is a New Play by an admittedly experimental playwright, only the adventurous were in the audience.
Again, execution everywhere was excellent, but the play itself never invited anyone in to its abstract world.

29 oct LORD OF THE FLIES Wheelock Family Theatre 111

Set Designer Danila Korogodsky gave this play a set out of very solid wood that reflected sand-dunes and the whipped waves of an indifferent sea. An apron built out over the first couple rows increased blocking possibilities, and the various gangs and cliques in William Golding's story laid claim to various areas and promontories from which to declare their militant intentions.
I got the feeling, however, that the only people who were grooving on the story were high-schoolers who had read and discussed everything in class. Frankly, I read the novel centuries ago, and I still can't by Golding's insistence that high-schoolers, left to their own devices, would within weeks re-create war, prejudice, and ritual murder. (And the discovery of a dead pilot's body hanging from a snagged parachute never made any sense to me whatsoever.)
Putting kids of the correct age in the characters of kids, unfortunately, allows them to exaggerate their outlooks and actions. For instance, everyone grudgingly agrees that "whoever holds the conch-shell is the only speaker to be istened to" and then they all ignore the rule and continue to bicker.
Director Susan Kosoff handled a big, young cast well enough, but I found that the play in no way solved any of my reservations about the original novel --- and I had hoped it would.

3 nov THE FULL MONTY North Shore Music Theatre 112

I'd seen the original English movie, but this was my first experience of the American Musical made from it.
I'm glad they still make musicals like this one --- reducing the plot and ideas to a few essentials, then fleshing them out with good, witty lyrics and energetic music. Moving from a small town in England to Buffalo after the steel-mill closes gives a serious bite to the situation, when even a vice-president turns up lying to his wife about the job he's lost and the salary that is non-existent. The workers without work run into serious problems --- one desperately trying to catch up on back child-support payments, another finding his sex-drive destroyed by his lack of employment.
But the most interesting aspect of this excellent NSMT production is that, until the final number, this collection of mis-matched males have to look like Very Bad Amateur Dancers Their attempts to "get it right" are as enjoyable as their confrontations with their wives --- and the final pay-off is satisfying indeed.
David Yazbek's music, powerfully belted by a cooking band conducted by Dale Reitling, is bouncy brass and jazz vigor wedded to Yazbek's racy lyrics, and Terrence McNally's book gives every character a warm, believable problem.
I had a ball.......


This world premiere by Jared Rainier tackles several serious ideas in essentially a mystery/thriller full of surprising revelations and hidden motives. I think it's the best AYTB show to date. The company is committed to new plays and local performers and, in this case, it's been a good combination.
I think the first startling detail here occurs when a nervous suitor, meeting his intended's preacher father for the first time, pulls a pistol for a surreptitious round of Russian Roulette to test --- not himself, but to test God's permission for him to go on with an attempt at vicious revenge that a lifetime of anger has honed to a deadly edge. It is not the last startling detail, not by a long shot!
Braden Weeks, the company's Artistic Director and Writer-in-Residence, has the continually-evolving young man's role, with Chuck Schwager and Maria Schaedler as father and fiancee, and Ryan Dunn directed.
Rainier's script slithers about from surprise to surprise, always absorbing and challenging, always intriguingly serious. God's view of anger and of Satan and of forgiveness all get serious consideration here, but explaining it all will ruin several surprises.
And you Do intend to see the show yourself, don't you?


What a hoot!
Judith McIntyre and Carmel O'Reilly are pre-menopausal ladies sublimating their sexualities on an Irish singer (He's real) who attracts such ladies with the auras of Barry Manilow and Liberaci rolled into one --- and then on the room-service bellboy (Derry Woodhouse) in their hotel. McIntyre's lady is separated and playing the field, O'Reilly's is stubbornly faithful, but both have a lot to say about their spouses and their discontent with society's indifference to still spunky women outgrowing their youthful attractiveness.
Early in Act One O'Reilly plays a tape of her heart-throb's act, and even from the back her physical reactions are chaste only because of her flannel pajamas. McIntyre, on the other hand, is consumed with frustration at her ex-hubby and loud in her anger. Their language us earthily robust, just as two old friends can be with one another.
The second act is almost a whole new play --- not in their hotel-room but on the Donegal seashore waiting for dawn. Time gets unstuck here, and Woodhouse plays a number of men out of the women's pasts, while they wrestle with their lot in life.
This a comedy of ideas, and the laughter and badinage leave things to think and talk about on the way home.


This is, to date, a preview of

9 nov TRUE WEST New Repertory Theatre ARSENAL ARTS CENTER
10 oct MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM Shaxpy Now! TOWER AUD 10 A M!!!!!!
12 nov New England Theatre Conference SESSION 10 (My Lecture!!!)
15 nov [ Meet my Doctor; schedule Knee Surgery ]
16 nov MIT Student Center STAR WARS TRILOGY MIT Musical Theatre
17 nov Hovey Players PRELUDE TO A KISS
18 nov [ Farewell Party for Teri Wilkinson ] 20 nov Roxbury Community College STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE
2 dec YMCA Family Theatre ARCADIA The Longwood Players
9 dec Claderwood BCA - PROMISES, PROMISES

During the 10 - 13 November week-end of the NEW ENGLAND THEATRE CONFERENCE I will try to be in Wakefield as often and as long as possible.
On the 12th, I will do a talk and talk-back on the subject "The Art of Writing [AND READING] Reviews" whenever "Session 10" comes up. And then Lee and I will attend the annual banquet at which they will announce an Award for The Theater Mirror.

Break a leg in any case......
Break a leg ALL!

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide