Author: Donna Herman

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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Numbers Nerds

Numbers Nerds is a selection of the New York Musical Festival playing at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater until Sunday July 23rd, but it could just as easily be part of the fall line-up on Fox or the CW.  Not surprising since a note in the Playbill from Producer Larry Little (also responsible for the story) informs us its target audience is high schools, colleges & community theaters.  Numbers Nerds is about a mostly female competitive high-school math team from Wisconsin that reaches the National Sum-It Championships. And it was written in response to a dialogue with theater faculty at local high schools and colleges bemoaning the lack of roles for females. Which brings us full circle to the Festival which encourages musicals with diversity.

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The Fourth Messenger

The Fourth Messenger is part of the New York Musical Festival and has performances through Sunday July 23rd. A reimagining of the legend of Buddha as a modern day woman who is both enlightened and flawed, the piece itself is a mirror image of its protagonist. The creators Tanya Shaffer (Book & Lyrics), Vienna Teng (Music & Additional Lyrics), and Matt August (Director); are a little like Park Slope helicopter parents.  Too close and loving to see their child’s flaws in order to correct them.  And really, the kid’s not that bad – there’s a lot to love here – which makes it almost more frustrating.  Because with a tweak or two, The Fourth Messenger could be outstanding.

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