That Was The Week That Was --- 8 - 14 November '06"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


Some of The Week That Was

8 - 14 November

"But this week I won't see six plays.
I'll see seven."

Okay, I lied.
I didn't know it at the time though. What happened was that on the 9th of November I tried to get to the opening of the "A PLACE TO SAY SOMETHING: THE OFF-OFF-BROADWAY PHENOMENON OF THE 60s" festival, which Carl A. Rossi covered so thoroughly. I stumbled around a lot, but couldn't find 8 The Fenway, so I came back home and sulked.

Then on Monday the 13th (Only Yesterday!) I had agreed to experience artist/artistic director/choreographer/dancer/pianist/comedienne Nicole Pierce's Installation Work "It Means Something Else" at the Green Street Studios in Central Square. But early afternoon that day I had to walk about a dozen blocks to and from the local STOP&SHOP to pick up a refill of blood-pressure medication, and I arrived home soaked and disheartened, so I punted. (Nicole will doubtless torture me mercilessly for my failure. Sorry Nicole!) Instead I managed to finish my review of Theatre III's "Urinetown" at about three a m.

I have managed to get up a couple full reviews this week, but I don't want to sleight other shows deserving your full attention --- and mine --- however the time to write (And frankly, the time to THINK about what to write) tends these days to be chewed up by the time to see More Shows! I mean, if I HAD seen all seven shows this week, would I have had time to review ANY of them?
Is A Puzzlement!

But, here's the week, up till now:

8 nov RABBIT HOLE Huntington Theatre Company 96
11 nov CLOUD 9 Longwood Players CAMB FAMILY YMCA THEATRE

I reviewed the first of these:
8 nov RABBIT HOLE Huntington Theatre Company
but someone had already sent in a review, so MY Review" got to be called "A Minority Report."
And I'll bet you don't know what that means, so let me explain:
In Congress, the various committees hold hearings on bills, or subjects for bills, and then tell the entire body what they found out. The Majority Party (Republicans this week, Democrats come January) file "THE Committee Report" but the Minority Party (Democrats this week, Republicans for the next two [or more?] years!) files its own "Minority Report" and, in most cases, it just mirrors the other one --- though sometimes there are sharp disagreements with the Majority opinion.

Okay, when I first started getting more than one review of the same plays --- most of the time agreeing, but occasionally sharply DISagreeing --- I decided that after the first review I'd label all the other reviews "Minority Reports" and they'd agree or disagree of course, but they'd probably describe the same show in different ways.

I think the more reviews of shows the merrier. Everyone's opinions (Even YOURS! If you don't want to write a full review, send a Quick-Take!) are valid. ("De gustibus", remember?) And agreements and DISagreements may drive readers to see the show just to decide who's right, Right?
End Of Sermon.


This was the last performance of a powerhouse production of three monologues and a coda written by Dario Fo and Franca Rame. Each piece --- "Rise And Shine" done by Nikki O'Carroll, "A Woman Alone" by Lorna McKenzie, and "Alice in Wonderless Land" by Jennifer O'Connor --- showed a woman dealing in dreamlike (nightmare-like!) fashion with everyday situations, irritations, frustrations, and fantasies of rebellion and revenge. In the first it's a young mother, juggling an infant and a job, trying to remember where the hell she's left her keys. In the second, an older wife reveals that she's been locked into her apartment after having succumbed to a torrid affair with a younger man --- whose Arm, at least, squeezes through the chained door-chink for a last hectic tryst. The third is as fantastic a dream-story as Lewis Carrol's original.

Except, of course, that Fo and Rame use scatological potty-mouth obscenities to emphasize the emotions of these put-upon women, and the fabric of their fantasies includes, for instance, taking pistol pot-shots at the voyeur peeping down from next door with his binoculars.

That's one of the joys of this sort of free-form theatre: on a bare-bones stage with limited props, people can do or be Exactly What They Say, no matter how illogical, un-p.c., or unexpected. The stories are, after all, taking place inside their minds as they spin their tales, and sometimes the state-of-mind transcends verismilitude.

The fourth bit "We All Have The Same Story" --- that started being about childhood when her rag-doll started teaching her dirty words --- seemed a single narrative, but every few minutes a different speaker wrested control of the story with a jarring new tack until, at last, the three arrived at a tree under which a bunch of women lounged telling their stories and discovering, wow, that They All Had The Same Story!

The trio started the evening, as audience arrived, energetically dancing barefoot in their skimpy slips to Madonna music all over the stage and seats with unflagging energetic gusto, setting the mood for the main attractions. And their offhand, matter-of-fact approach to every detail (rape by horny trees? flying, and falling?) of their narratives kept pushing these fables of contemporary discontents over the edge into giggle-time.

The trio wore clown-white mime-faces and rather little else --- Belina Mizrahi their stage manager wore clown white as well, and slippers and sexy slacks and bustier as she danced with the trio, then sat onstage at a computer table apparently running lights and music as the show ran uninterrupted.

WHISTLER IN THE DARK's Producer Ben Fainstein and Director Meg Taintor took this show to different spaces, lounges, bars and galleries in Boston, Cambridge, Lynn, and finally Charlestown where I finally caught up with them. They are an uppity company of fearless performers stretching the limits of theatrical possibilities, and I can't wait to hear what they'll be trying next!

11 nov CLOUD 9 Longwood Players CAMB FAMILY YMCA THEATRE

NOTE: 15/16 November
I can't believe I left this out!
The Longwood Players is a relatively new community theatre group, but their track-record is high and their "play-list" includes a healthy selection of meaty plays, "Cloud 9" an excellent example.
It's what would be best described as a "quirky" comedy: two one-act plays using the same eight actors, some of them calling for cross-gender casting, and grown-ups playing children and grandmothers. In other words, a play in which Nothing is what it seems.

Director Marc S. Miller is very careful to get all the complicated subtleties and surprises in the first act clear. It's set "in the colonies" in 1875, and pillories the image of a British family maintaining their civilized habits in the African bush. People manage both to indulge in and to ignore all sorts of sexual hanky-panky while maintaining their various fronts, and blandly exploiting their native house-"boy". Revelations come thicker and faster as the pace progresses and the facades crumble.

The second act is a bit murkier --- both the text itself and the playing. The fun here starts with seeing who-plays-whom: Erin Scanlon, who energetically played the 8-year-old son before returns as the mother of a toddling girl, played here by large, tall Josh Pritchard who was the father before. The sexual hanky-panky is never hidden here, but being honest with each other about it doesn't often make life paradise, and contemporary settings and speech made things less rather than more clear than the accents in Act I. By the time near the end that people from Act I (i.e. in those costumes) intruded silently to haunt act II, I was more bewildered than enlightened.

But bravo for Longwood's taking on such a show and doing it so well. I'm sorry I'm so late with this small review. They deserve more atention.


As I mentioned, I already reviewed this show --- but I still have more to say about it!
The Exposition in the show insists that it is a Musical (and not a Happy Musical at that), implying that it is not "real" or at least not as real as most plays. Nonetheless, even such frothy fare as "Kiss Me, Kate!" [or even Ghod-help-us "Annie"!] deals with reality, builds A Reality, and for all its self-referential jokes on itself, "Urinetown" does too. In fact, the more musical/theatrical "reality" this cast injected in their performances, the bigger were the surprises from the send-ups of itself.
In more pontificating words, the sincerity with which everything was uttered at Theatre III served to create that very "Distancing Effect" that Bertolt Brecht insisted was the soul of "The Threepenny Opera"; and I think the more directly sincere you perform this play, the better it gets.
And I will probably insist on a whole new "insight" when I see my Next (Fifth!) "Urinetown" --- whenever it comes down the pike.

Break a leg all!


THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide