Author: Kathleen Campion

Just The Two Of Each Of Us

SubCulture at 45 Bleecker St., Downstairs is one of those understated, cool venues that make you glad you came.   On a frigid Tuesday, the corner of Bleecker, a scooch east of Lafayette, is welcoming.  There is a full bar, heads-up staff, floor seating and raked seating at the back of the room The minimal stage – no props no scenery – looks like an ideal set for standup comedy, and often, it is.  This night, The Pajama Men, two men, literally in pajamas take the stage.  They are Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez and they have been touring this odd, though...

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Outside Mullingar

John Patrick Shanley’s latest, Outside Mullingar, is a tight, four-character, one-act that just opened at the manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman. Set in the Irish Midlands, the two American actors, Debra Messing and Peter Maloney, struggle with the dialect, while the two Irish-born actors, Dearbhla Molloy and Brian F. O’Byrne, cruise. The four characters are anchored to the land near Mullingar, on adjoining cattle and sheep farms that the two younger characters are destined to inherit.  The conflict blooms as Rosemary (Debra Messing) chases Anthony (Brian F. O’Byrne) with conviction and near aggression. The hero of our piece is undone...

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And Away We Go

  Terrence McNally’s And Away We Go, is his love letter to the theater that’s shaped him.  Like a lover of long standing, he warms to her foibles and rants, lays bare her intimate secrets, celebrates her exuberant lust to be seen. I found it hard to leave the theater.  First, I had a great time and have always tended to stay way too late at really good parties.  Second, although I had just had a robust, laugh-out-loud experience and a powerful lesson in how theater ought to be done, I felt that I had not been quite up to all that was offered.  I want to go again and try to catch up. Fifty years on the job, four Tony awards on his mantel, and all the critical and popular acclaim any man could stand – McNally’s taken his life in the theater and packaged it for us as a theater-arts master class.  He starts with the Greeks and quick steps us through Moliere, Chekov and Shakespeare  on to Beckett and Albee.  Just six actors perform the whole timeline of Western theater’s development. McNally has a lot of fun on the backs of subscribers and theater board members – the folks just outside the theatrical experience who will pay for proximity to the art.  But McNally saves his richest barbs for his characters cast as playwrights – not so much wounding as hoisting them....

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The Holiday Ride: Enchantment on Wheels

The venues say it all.  After picking up tickets at the box office inside Madame Tussaud’s on West 42nd street, ticketholders are told to gather outside Chevys, a high-volume, Mexican fast food franchise at Ninth and 42nd, to await The Ride.   The Ride is an admixture of tour and performance—an odd, one-off show delivered in a specially outfitted bus.  This motor coach is tricked out with wraparound windows, a sound system, screens with video loops showcasing iconic Gotham, and two hosts, Stuart and Julie. The bus’s stadium seating puts the audience in an altered state, as it alters point-of-view.  We ride in the street but above the street. We watch and wave at the pedestrians as they watch and wave at us.  Along the route buskers are seeded among the regular bustling crowds.  As we turn a corner onto 7th Avenue we encounter an unhappy young man in a crowd of busy people.  He is an actor “playing sad” and somehow we care.   On an uptown stretch of 6th Avenue we see a sidewalk sweeper who can dance, and dance he does until the bus pulls away.  Just past Carnegie Hall we come upon a street musician playing jazz joined by a big-voiced woman who lifts our spirits.  At Columbus Circle a dazzling ballerina (no really it’s dark and her clothes are alight, um, dazzling) dances around the circle as our bus circles it...

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One Night…

A barrage of issues explodes on stage at the Cherry Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village with Charles Fuller’s One Night…. Start with the plight of returning veterans in need of help but facing stony and inept bureaucracy. Add the overlay of sexual assault on women combatants. Layer on the complicated sexual politics between men and women and a subset of those sexual politics specific to men and women of color. It’s a busy 90 minutes with no intermission. Fuller won the Pulitzer for drama in 1982 for A Soldier’s Play, the story of a racially charged search by a black captain for the murderer of a black sergeant on a Louisiana army base in 1944. One Night… is freighted with more stratified conflict, not updated racism, and not straightforward sexism, more like a pebble in a pool radiating multiple rings of conflict. It’s difficult to get emotionally on-board with any of the characters as they are so damaged. It is wearying to witness the struggle. As this drama focuses on the shattered consciousnesses of the protagonists one presumes the audience is meant to be distressed. Alicia G. (Rutina Wesley), a confidant black staff sergeant, is gang raped in Iraq by three soldiers, two of whom she can identify. The third rapist later explains they raped her because she was uppity, bragging about her prowess in battle, as the men...

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