Let's Talk Off Broadway

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

Tag: Thomas Bradshaw

Review | Job by Thomas Bradshaw | Directed by Benjamin H. Kamine | Featuring The Bats | Flea Theater

… why do the righteous playgoers suffer? …

The story of Job reinterpreted by a contemporary playwright:  what an intriguing idea.  Exotic times and places — here the ancient Near East — are appealing.  And a play that takes you to supernatural venues, like Heaven, as this play does, and to actually “see” God, at home, so to speak, always have an extra magnetism. 

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Review | Burning by Thomas Bradshaw | Directed by Scott Elliott | New Group | Acorn Theatre

… The Marquis de Bradshaw …  

One gets the impression that Thomas Bradshaw began by making a list of everything he could think of that might shock you  re sexuality and worked his story to get in as much of it as possible, and then went on to make sure to get it acted out as graphically as possible.  By the way, it’s not remotely erotic.  More just plain distasteful.  And disappointing, given the talent Bradshaw has shown earlier.

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Review | The Great Recession | Plays by Thomas Bradshaw, Sheila Callaghan, Erin Courtney, Will Eno, Itamar Moses and Adam Rapp | Flea Theater

The Flea is presenting six plays by six authors, each with some reference to the recession.  The actors are drawn from The Flea’s “Bats,” the young, capable and energetic actors of their resident company — you find yourself hoping for a good show at least as much for them as for yourself, but it doesn’t happen.  For most of the plays, the link to the recession is so synthetic it doesn’t matter.  The plays don’t matter much either, which is too bad for what must have seemed like a good idea.

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Review | The Bereaved by Thomas Bradshaw | Directed by May Adrales | Partial Comfort Productions | Wild Project

… race ya to the bottom …

At first it seems The Bereaved is going to be a superficial play, a sitcom, at best a comedy of manners and it does keep the audience laughing, but one comes to realize it’s a dead serious, carefully constructed and politically radical play, written by a Black playwright, about race — specifically about which race or races will come out on top and which at the bottom.

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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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