Author: Donna Herman

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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On the Shore of the Wide World

I’m not quite sure why the Atlantic Theater Company chose to stage this revival of Simon Stephens’ 2005 work On the Shore of the Wide World.  It’s not a bad play, it’s just…average, and overlong.  It certainly isn’t up to what we expect from Mr. Stephens after his two latest productions on this side of the pond, Heisenberg and The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night.  What saves this production is the really fine acting by the entire cast.

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Fucking A

Fucking A feels more like a Brechtian drama than a riff on an iconic piece of 19th Century Romantic Literature, Hawthorne’s “The Scarlett Letter.” The only thing they have in common is a woman named Hester with an A on her chest. Despite the use of Brechtian devices, Ms. Parks’ voice is all her own here.  And a grim one it is.  Although there are some wonderful, much needed comic moments – like Butcher’s (Raphael Nash Thompson) monologue cataloguing the impossibly lengthy, silly transgressions of his daughter – Fucking A is not for the faint-hearted.  Although the mind-numbingly cruel and heartless society drawn here might have seemed exaggerated in 2000 when Ms. Parks wrote the play, unfortunately it doesn’t feel that far away now.  You don’t have to go as far as Myanmar and the situation with the Rohingya, just google Charlottesville, Virginia.

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Ex Habitus

The Corkscrew Theater Festival, dedicated to supporting early-career theater artists, is having its inaugural season this summer in New York City.  Ex Habitus, which opened on August 23rd and runs through September 3rd, is one of 5 full length productions being showcased, and 5 readings.  Written by Lilla Goettler and Katie Hathaway, and directed by Lilla Goettler as well, Ex Habitus tells the story of millennial friends who become rivals in the podcast wars for listeners ears. 

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Dear Jane

There are a lot of talented people doing excellent work on Dear Jane, a new play by Jan Beber at The Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row on 42nd Street.  If only they had a play that was less frustrating than an all-white jigsaw puzzle to work with, they could invite their friends and families with no reservations.  And I could recommend it with none. 

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