Author: Donna Herman

Awake and Sing!

On paper it seems like a good idea at the right time.  A revival of Clifford Odets’ 1935 classic Awake and Sing! about a struggling immigrant family in The Bronx, done in Yiddish, the language they would probably have spoken had they existed in real life. A no-brainer for the New Yiddish Rep since Awake and Sing! was the first Broadway play to focus entirely on a Jewish family.  And Clifford Odets was one of the first American playwrights to use, and become recognizable for ethnic language and street talk in his work.  The current production at the 14th St. Y through December 24th, has a Yiddish translation by Chaver Paver, but there are supertitles in English over the set that are easy to read.

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Describe the Night

Describe the Night, currently playing at Atlantic Theater Company’s Linda Gross Theater, is a question for which there is no answer.   Playwright Rajiv Joseph plays connect-the-dots with historical facts and figures spanning 90 years that might – or might not – have any connection, and asks us to see a familiar face in the resulting picture.  And while his pen is busy hopping all over the page, it’s kind of hard not to see a horrifyingly familiar image emerge from the seemingly random lines being drawn.

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This One’s For The Girls

This One’s For The Girls by Dorothy Marcic at St. Luke’s Theater, should be titled This One’s For The Money. A musical review of “women’s popular music” in this country from the 1920’s through the current times, it boasts a host of memorable music, impressive talent, and lazy insight, scholarship and politics.  It will appeal to those who came of age in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, and can ignore the between the songs patter, the most.

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Muswell Hill

The dinner party from hell is a tried and true theatrical device.  Playwright Torben Betts takes full advantage of its potential in Muswell Hill and delivers not only the requisite excruciatingly dysfunctional family dynamics, scathing looks at both well-heeled bleeding liberals, and down-at-the-heels revolutionaries, but a sobering shot at self-absorbed aging thespians as well.  Ouch.  And while he does it most entertainingly, with a rapier sharp wit, there’s much food for thought here.

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Illyria

Illyria, written and directed by Richard Nelson, and currently enjoying its world premiere at The Public Theater, is a biographical look at The Public’s founder, Joseph Papp, and his struggles to establish the iconic New York Shakespeare Festival.  It’s a dramatic tale filled with ambition, creativity, genius, pride, politics, manipulation, celebrity and historically significant events from 60 years ago.  For theater and history buffs, Illyria feels like a corner seat in the room where it happened.

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