Author: Donna Herman

Lonely Planet

When Steven Dietz wrote Lonely Planet in 1993, the world was in the 12th year of the AIDS crisis, we didn’t have an effective drug regimen, and we were still mired in the belief that it was a “gay” disease. However, don’t confuse Lonely Planet with earlier works on the subject like Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart or Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. Dietz has written a very quiet, personal play about friendship in the midst of disaster. And because, at its core, Lonely Planet is about the relationship between two people, it transcends the specific circumstances of  AIDS in the 1990’s, and feels very fresh and relevant today.

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Androboros (Villain of the State)

Did you know that the first play that was written and published in this country, in 1714 by Robert Hunter, a Colonial Governor of New York State, has never been performed until now?  That fact alone made me curious to see Peculiar Works Project’s production of Androboros (Villain of the State).  Well, that and the fact that it’s playing at the legendary Fraunces Tavern.  Which, subsequent to the play’s publication became General George Washington’s headquarters during the American Revolution. 

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The Show-Off

The Show-Off by George Kelly (uncle of actress Grace Kelly) was a big hit in 1924 when it premiered on Broadway.  It’s about a self-aggrandizing braggart, Aubrey Piper (Ian Gould) who is a liar and a fop, and holds down a lowly clerk job at the Pennsylvania Railroad.  He meets and woos the daughter of a plain spoken, working-class North Philadelphia family, who are aghast that she has fallen for this clearly vain, shallow, idiot.  I have to admit a feeling of kinship with the Fisher family of North Philly.  I’m perplexed.

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The Treasurer

The Treasurer by Max Posner, currently at Playwrights Horizons, is a small gem of a play.  Dark, funny, and disturbing, the play seems too insightful for a 28-year old to have been its author.  But then, the playbill notes and opening monologue by the main character reveal that the subject is autobiographical, so it makes sense. 

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Anybody

I saw Anybody: An Improvised Historical Hip-Hopera presented by North Coast at the Connelly Theater on the 2nd night of its 4 night, 5 performance run there, and I wish I had the next two nights free to see it for the rest of its run.  Why not? They take audience suggestions for the subject of the biographical hip-hop musical that they completely improvise on the spot – music, choreography, dialog and all – so it will be different every show.  And the talent on stage is off the chain.  There was a packed audience who loved every minute.

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