Let's Talk Off Broadway

Yvonne Korshak reviews Off-Broadway, Broadway, Film and Art

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Gary McNair in A Gambler's Guide to Dying. Photo: Benjamin Cowie

REVIEW A Gambler’s Guide to Dying | Written and Performed by Gary McNair | Directed by Gareth Nicholls | 59E59 Theaters

storytelling

Actor-author Gary McNair recounts his granddad’s excitement at winning a big bet on the 1966 World Cup, and a lifelong quest to recreate the thrill.

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REVIEW | OSLO | By J. T. Rogers | Directed by Bartlett Sher | Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center

… at the gates of war … 

No conflicts seem more stubbornly unsolvable in modern politics and history than the hostilities  between Israelis and Arabs.   How fascinating that there were, in fact, secret negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, enabled by idealistic,  peace-seeking Norwegians, that resulted in a signed agreement in 1993, the first of the Oslo accords.   Oslo tells the that story in such a way that the audience is caught up in the suspense of high stakes history.

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Strongman, Qindynasty (221-206 B.C.), Terracotta, H. 61 3/4 in. (156.8 cm), Lent by Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum.

Art Review | Age Of Empires: Chinese Art of the Qin & Han Dynasties (221 B.C.-A.D.220) | Metropolitan Museum of Art

… when China became China …

Here is an opportunity to see some of the most remarkable objects of art and archaeology excavated in China.  Because some are so lavish, and in some cases unique, a number have been featured in Western publications including newspapers and magazines, but most have never been seen outside of China.The Qin and Han dynasties together make up the classical period of Chinese art and culture, when the basic forms of political organization and intellectual and artistic paradigms were formed.   The key theme of this period, and of this exhibition, is unification of the vast territory of China under the powerful Qin emperor, Qinshihuang, and its maintenance and expansion in the Han dynasty.

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REVIEW | Les Bonnes/The Maids | By Jean Genet | Directed by Oliver Henzler | La MAMA |

… oppression  …

Enter the weird world of Claire and Solange – the world of what oppression does to the human spirit.

The language is brilliant and stunningly expressed by two great actresses in this production, the psychological twists and freehand switches on role playing are the products of a stupendous dramatic imagination. But unlike the actual notorious murder that inspired the play, the Papin case, the maids, not the mistress, are the ultimate victims.  The author’s profound reversal of the expected ending raises this play from a shocking oddity of kinky love-hate relationships (which it is!) to the level of a true classic.  To have seen this great, passionate production is a life treasure.

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REVIEW Sweat | By Lynn Nottage | Directed by Kate Whoriskey | At Studio 54

… losers and losers …

Sweat is not a perfect play but it’s important and by the end has great impact. As this drama unfolds, we witness through the lives of engaging individuals how competition for jobs poisons relationships between ethnic and racial groups and, most poignantly, between friends.  The backdrop is the total disregard of industry and “Wall Street” for the individuals who support them.

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The 17th Century Actor Edward Kynaston

REVIEW Prince of Players | Opera by Carlisle Floyd | New York Premier | Little Opera Theatre of NY

|… what a difference a king makes …

In Prince of Players, a private, personal and intimate story – that of an actor thrown out of work by a King’s decree — plays out against a canvas of broad historical meaning.  Although I’ve seen thoughts to the contrary, I found it monumental, and Carlisle Floyd’s swelling, varied music, performed by a cast of fine singer-actors supported by a full orchestra fulfills and amplifies the strong emotions and large resonances.

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The playwright ponders ... Pierre Corneille by an unknown 17th century artist. Bibliotheque Nationale de France.

REVIEW The Liar | By David Ives | Adapted from Corneille’s play Le Menteur | Directed by Michael Kahn | Classic Stage Company

… bold brilliance …

This play is for everybody who loves words, word play, unexpected puns and rhymes of an unbound imagination.  It’s hilarious –and expands one’s sense of the English language.

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“I-don’t-know-what-I-can-save-you-from”-By-Neil-LaBute-with-Richard-Kind-Gia-Crovatin.j

REVIEW AdA (Author directing Author) | POWER | at LaMaMa

Written and Directed by Neil LaBute, Marco Calvani, Marta Buchaca

Each playwright wrote one of these short plays, directed by another of the authors, and the acting is for the most part stellar.   It’s a brisk and engrossing evening of theater.

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Benjamin Eett as the Mariner. Photo Carol Goldfarb

REVIEW   Albatross | By Matthew Spangler and Benjamin Evett | Starring Benjamin Evett | Inspired by “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“Sometimes there is no why … ” The Mariner

In Albatross, Benjamin Evett gives us a surpassing performance in a magnificent play.

Alone on the stage, Benjamin Evett contends with the wind and waves, the details of his ship’s rigging, loneliness, madness, thirst, hunger, loss, memories, yearnings, cruelty, and the guilt of having caused the arbitrary death of an innocent, friendly creature.  His is an ultimate human voyage.  We are lucky to have so compelling an actor as Evett to take us on this journey:  he keeps us tight beside him all the way.

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Austin Pendleton as Paul and Eric Joshua Davis as David

REVIEW Consider the Lilies | Written and Directed by Stuart Fail | House Red Theatre Company

… Socrates and Alcibiades? …

I wanted to see Consider the Lilies because Austin Pendleton is such a fascinating actor to watch:  he didn’t disappoint here, but he’s the main element of interest. (Pendleton is also a fine director, though he didn’t direct this play.)

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