Let's Talk Off Broadway

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

Tag: Jim Simpson

Danielle Slavick and Stephen Barker Turner. Photo Hunter Canning.

Review | I See You by Kate Robin | Directed by Jim Simpson | Flea Theater

Danielle Slavick and Stephen Barker Turner. Photo Hunter Canning.
Danielle Slavick and Stephen Barker Turner. Photo Hunter Canning.

This play is a compendium of current topical concerns about the environment, junk food and junk in our food, etc., built around a romance between a man and a woman, each with children and each married to someone else.

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Review | The Vandal by Hamish Linklater | Directed by Jim Simpson | Flea Theater (returning March 22-31, another chance to see it!)

ak bleak bleak — a bold way to start a play, but it works wonderfully.  Strangers, a woman and a boy, on a cold, road at night, next to a cemetery, waiting for a bus, but the vivid characters bring it to warm, pulsating life — which is exactly the point. 

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Review | Heresy by A. R. Gurney | Directed by Jim Simpson | Flea Theater

Heresy is topical, very funny, and totally enjoyable modern parable filledProgram with references to today’s politics and based, roughly, on the life of Christ.  Some of the characters have Biblical names, like Mary for the mother of Chris, her idealistic, purist son currently in jail.  But Gurney’s a wonderfully surprising playwright so you can’t guess from that what to expect.  

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Review | Looking at Christmas by Steven Banks | Directed by Jim Simpson | Flea Theater | World Premiere

News Flash 12/15/2011:  The Flea’s Romantic Holiday Comedy
Looking at Christmas Comes to TV
December 21 – 25 on Thirteen WNET

Thirteen WNET will air The Flea Theater’s acclaimed 2010 production of Looking at Christmas by Steven Banks (head writer of SpongeBob SquarePants) beginning December 21. Filmed live at The Flea last year, this romantic comedy set in front of New York’s famed holiday window displays is directed by Jim Simpson and features The Bats, The Flea’s resident company of actors. Broadcasts on Thirteen WNET are slated for Dec. 21 at 10pm; Dec. 23rd at 3am, and Dec. 25 at 11pm. Check your local listing for airdates in other markets.  Here’s the review (Dec. 2010 )

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Future Anxiety | Raul Sigmund Julia as Malcolm sets down his heavy bucket for a moment as Holly Chou as Comrade Li profers a creation. Photo: Richarde Termine

Review | Future Anxiety by Laurel Haines | Directed by Jim Simpson | Flea Theater

                … normalcy meets end of world …

Future Anxiety is a vast, crisp ensemble play that brings you to the future by following through on everything that’s undermining our earth as we know and love it.  “Vast” even though it all takes place in The Flea’s rather small Off-Off-Broadway theater but when this talented group gets through with it — it seems positively epic! 

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Review | Looking at Christmas by Steven Banks | Directed by Jim Simpson | Flea Theater | World Premiere

The Flea’s Romantic Holiday Comedy
Looking at Christmas Comes to TV
December 21 – 25 on Thirteen WNET

Thirteen WNET will air The Flea Theater’s acclaimed 2010 production of Looking at Christmas by Steven Banks (head writer of SpongeBob SquarePants) beginning December 21. Filmed live at The Flea last year, this romantic comedy set in front of New York’s famed holiday window displays is directed by Jim Simpson and features The Bats, The Flea’s resident company of actors. Broadcasts on Thirteen WNET are slated for Dec. 21 at 10pm; Dec. 23rd at 3am, and Dec. 25 at 11pm. Check your local listing for air dates in other markets.  Here’s the review.

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Office Hours by A. R. Gurney | Directed by Jim Simpson | Featuring The Bats | Flea Theater

… twilight of the Great Books …

Office Hours is a tender and passionate love story about — the love Humanities professors hold for the great books of the western tradition just when the core focus (aka “privileging”) of these books is on the way out.  It’s also a fine comedy.

We’re in the late 1960’s, and in a flexible, amusing setting of young professors’ offices.  The profs are all teaching sections of the required two-semester Western Tradition core course but they’re worried.  Rumor has it that this course is to be eliminated.  No more core.  Good-bye dead white males.  The young teachers, concerned individually about their futures, share an overriding concern: for Homer, Aeschylus, Virgil, Dante and Shakespeare.

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Review | A Light Lunch by A. R. Gurney | Directed by Jim Simpson | Flea Theater

This new play is inspired by our recent presidential elections: the issues are alive and the play sparkles with vitality — and partisanship.  Obama supporters, don’t miss it!  Bush supporters might do better to stay away.

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Review | Dawn by Thomas Bradshaw | Directed by Jim Simpson | Flea Theater

… partial redemption …

Dawn at The Flea Theater has lots to keep you interested including vivid and sensational scenes, great acting and important content — alcoholism and child sexual abuse.  It would be stronger if it did not struggle with problems of character and plot.

In the most powerful episode, a pedophile Uncle transforms an on-line Lolita into his sexual partner all the way to rolling-on-the-floor-naked success.  It’s the crux in this play of family disaster and a classic scene:  well observed, well written, an engine for the narrative and on a significant topic.

But other scenes are only titillating ad-ons.  A gorgeous young actress in a Victoria’s Secret garter belt ensemble lustily climbs astride her elderly, gin sodden husband, failing to get a rise out of him.  It’s part of a subplot that brings hype to the play, not drama, and doesn’t ring true.

The acting hits every target.  Gerry Bamman as the successful business man and elderly alcoholic conveys psychological nuance and hilarity — he’s never out of character.  Irene Walsh as the desirous younger wife, Kate Benson as the ironic but vulnerable first wife, Laura Esterman as the beleaguered mother of the sexually abused 14 year old, Steven as the God loving abuser, Jenny Seastone Stern as the 14 year old “in love” with her Uncle — all are perfect.

But in spite of their best efforts, the play is unconvincing.  How on earth does this elderly, violent, man who polishes off gin by the quart maintain his successful business and — if that were not enough — remain an object of sexual and emotional desire for two women?  Why on earth is his young wife filled with lust for an old drunk who doesn’t reciprocate her passion, and why so unwilling to leave him?  Why should we believe in the facile religious conversion of this brutal, dyed-in-the-wool alcoholic?

The ending, though, is smart, thought provoking and true — it goes part way to redeem the rest.

DAWN plays at The Flea Theater on White Street in Manhattan’s Tribeca, through December 6.

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