Author: Sarah Downs

Magdalene: I am the utterance of my name

In her solo piece Magdalene: I am the utterance of my name,  Sylvia Milo challenges received notions of the identity of Mary Magdalene, seeking to restore an unjustly silenced female voice to public consciousness, correcting historical inaccuracy and malicious mischaracterization. Mary Magdalene has been more canvas than  character in her own narrative, as her ‘identity’ has been projected onto her through the eyes of a handful of men centuries after the fact. I had high hopes for Magdalene even as I had no idea what to expect.  There can be such joy in the unexpected.  Alas, this was not the case here.  This disorganized, self-indulgent piece lacks coherence and direction.

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The Fires

The Fires is a fascinating new play by Raja Feather Kelly, In a railroad apartment in Brooklyn, characters in three distinct time periods cross paths in precise yet organic choreography on the same narrow set, oblivious to each other’s existence – sometimes with mere inches to spare.  The play is kind of surrealist drama/dream ballet that is both otherworldly and very much of this Earth.  The delicate veils separating the fields of play, as it were, could so easily fray at any moment, and yet they do not. Our willingness to suspend belief, and the actors’ powerful focus hold the fabric together. This is the shared joy of theater.

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Invasive Species

Invasive Species at the Vineyard Theatre, interrogates the confluence of certainty and accommodation in the search for, or creation of, identity.  The performance is colorful, inventive, visceral, funny and a bit manic.  Playwright and actress Maia Novi narrates her real-life voyage from her native Argentina to the Yale School of Drama, in flashes of dream, memory and parallel storytelling.  Bright-eyed and determined, Maia holds our attention with her insistent sincerity.

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The Wiz

The Wiz has returned to Broadway, and boy is it fun – and boy is it exhausting.  Director Schele Williams has taken a “more is more” attitude to this classic show, with emphasis on bright color, brassy sound and lots and lots of dancing.  Yes it’s over the top, but with some updated references in the script, and an excellent cast and ensemble, this Wiz mostly succeeds.  Where it falters is in the curation of moments.  The show needs more lows to balance the highs, and would benefit from a stronger overall arc.

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Perfect Crime

Perfect Crime is a charmless, clueless play that passed its sell-by date 20 years ago.  Between endless monologues, convoluted plot line and extraordinarily maladroit execution, this play is nearly unendurable.  To heap insult upon injury, it runs an immoral two hours.  Well into the first hour I began to feel that if something didn’t happen soon, a real crime might be perpetrated – by me.  

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