Let's Talk Off Broadway

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

Tag: 59E59 Theaters Page 2 of 3

Review | Desire | Six Plays Based on Tennessee Williams Short Stories | The Acting Company | 59E59 Theaters

Echoes of Tennessee Williams

Most of these six plays are sketches, some are better than others, and some bring you closer to Williams than others – which isn’t always the same thing.

The Resemblance Between A Violin Case And A Coffin by Beth Henley is about an over-close brother and sister, Tom and Roe, whose hot-house relationship with its submerged sexuality is upended when Roe, who gets her first period on stage complete with blood running down her leg (i.e., she’s reaching sexual maturity), develops an intense crush on a new boy in town, a violinist with whom she’s slated to play a recital.  It’s fun to recognize Williams’ dramatic themes – frail people living in dream worlds and thwarted, immature love. The playwright seems uncertain about what’s really causing his character’s, particularly Roe’s, troubles, and the role imagination plays in his character’s lives.

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Review | The Subtle Body by Megan Campisi | 59E59 Theaters

Directed by Michael Leibenluft, Gold No Trade production

This is a light comedy about an English physician, Dr. John Floyer, and his wife who are in China in the early 18th century.  There really was a Dr. John Floyer at this time who, like Floyer in this play, was interested in measuring the rate of the pulse, although the real Dr. Floyer never went to China.  What he knew about Chinese medicine came through missionary reports.

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Review | Everybody Gets Cake! | Created and Performed by Joel Jeske, Danny Gardner and Brent McBeth | Directed by Mark Lonergan | Music Composed & Performed by Ben Model, Parallel Exit | 59E59 Theaters

…  yes, everybody does get cake …

Everybody Gets Cake is a zany, free flow roust through the free-flow  imaginations of its three creators.  Why do you go?  For laughs — and there are plenty of them!

L-R Danny Gardner, Joel Jeske, Brent McBeth. Jim R Moore/Vaudevisuals

L-R Danny Gardner, Joel Jeske, Brent McBeth. Jim R Moore/Vaudevisuals

Using mime, surprise, and hilarious connects and disconnects that go back to early vaudeville and film comics like Charlie Chaplin and the Three Stooges, they scamper through kaleidoscopic vignettes, fighting with invisible objects, following impossible instructions, entangled in the absurd and valiantly surpassing it.  Director Mark Lonergan orchestrates a brisk and exciting pace.

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Review | The Woodsman by James Ortiz | Directed by James Ortiz and Claire Karpen | Music Composed by Edward W. Hardy | Strangeman and Co | In Association with Robb Nanus and Rachel Sussman | 59E59 Theaters

The Woodsman, using actors, puppets, mime and music, gives us back story, based on not well-known writings of Frank Baum, on how the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz came to be:  it’s a rich multi-media hour-long spectacle, but the story ends up pointless.

We’re in eastern Munchkinland where one tiny nuclear family finds a bit of freedom from the domination of the oppressive Witch by living self-sufficiently in a remote section of the woods, making a living by cutting trees.  As the Mother and Father mature and eventually die, young Nick is left on his own, following in his father’s footsteps as a woodsman.

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Bray Wilkins and Sarah Beckham Turner in SLOW DUSK. Photo Buckman

Opera Review | Slow Dusk and Markheim by Carlisle Floyd | New Chamber Arrangements by Inessa Zaretsky and Raymond J. Lustig | Little Opera Theatre of NY | 59E59 Theaters

What a wonderful evening of theater.  Two short American operas, narratives set to dramatic music, superbly performed.  One leaves thrilled and elated.

L-R Jennifer Roderer, Sarah Beckham-Turner, Alexander Charles Boyd in SLOW DUSK. Photo Buckman

L-R Jennifer Roderer, Sarah Beckham-Turner, Alexander Charles Boyd in SLOW DUSK. Photo Buckman

Slow Dusk takes us from commonplace to ecstatic, to tragedy, from afternoon to dusk.  Aunt Sue is shelling peas on the porch of a farmhouse in the Carolinas when Jess comes in from the fields, we learn of their concern about their niece, Sadie, who’s seeing to much of Micah — his family belong to the Truelights and they belong to the Disciples, and anyhow she’s smart and he never finished eighth grade.  They’re wild for one another and agree to marry but — not family as in Romeo and Juliet — accident intervenes, as fast as it can in life. 

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Review | Bauer by Lauren Gunderson | Directed by Bill English | San Francisco Playhouse and Roland Weinstein | 59E59 Theaters

Bauer focuses on a fascinating episode in the history of modern art in which the German artist Rudolf Bauer, in the midst of a successful career, stopped painting. Why?

Stacy Ross as Hilla von Rebay and Sherman Howard as Rudolf Bauer in Lauren Gunderson’s play, at 59E59 Theaters. Photo Carol Rosegg.

Stacy Ross as Hilla von Rebay and Sherman Howard as Rudolf Bauer in Lauren Gunderson’s play, at 59E59 Theaters. Photo Carol Rosegg.

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Review | Gidion’s Knot by Johnna Adams | Directed by Austin Pendleton | With Karen Leiner and Dara O’Brien | 59E59 Theaters

… truth …

Gidion’s Knot is an intense gem.  Two persons, a mother, Caryn (Leiner) and a grade school teacher, Heather (O’Brien) are engaged, during a parent-teacher conference in a taut  offensive-defensive search for truth.

L-R Karen Leiner and Dara O'Brien.  Photo by Carol Rosegg

L-R Karen Leiner and Dara O’Brien.  Photo by Carol Rosegg

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Review | I Am The Wind by Jon Fosse | English Adaptation by Simon Stephens | Directed by Paul Takacs | With Christopher Tierney and Louise Butelli | The Shop at 59E59

… duet …

R-L Louis Butelli and Christopher Tierney.  Photo Cherylynn Tsushima

R-L Louis Butelli and Christopher Tierney.  Photo Cherylynn Tsushima

This intense, gripping short play is superbly acted and perfectly produced.  It’s about what happens to two men, The One (Tierney) and The Other (Butelli) as they un-moor a small boat and sail out past the lighthouse to the sea.

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Review | Working, A Musical | From the Book by Studs Terkel | Adapted by Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso | Contributions by Gordo Greenberg | Prospect Theater Company | 59E59 Theaters

… singing about work …

People talked about working in Studs Terkel’s oral history book of 1974, Working:  People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do — in Working, the musical, they sing about it.

It’s a great idea — as composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz — of Godspell and Wicked —  thought when he first brought Working to the stage not long after the publication of Terkel’s book.  Revised and performed through the years, in its current version it’s an engaging and at times moving series of fine musical numbers (though I wish there were no rhymes, see below), beautifully performed by a cast of six who, all in all, take the parts of twenty-six characters and sing in the ensemble.

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Review | North | Conceived by Christina Ritter and Jennifer Schlueter | Written and Directed by Jennifer Schlueter | he for/word company | 59E59 Theater

 … aviation pioneers …

Interestingly, diaries give an important slant on a character but they aren’t a last word!

Christopher Marlowe Roach & Christina Ritter in North at 59E59 Theaters

A play about an encounter among three early aviators, Charles Lindbergh, whose first solo flight across the Atlantic electrified the world, his wife Ann Morrow Lindbergh, a pioneer aviator and talented writer, and French aviator and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery is an intriguing  idea, but NORTH, even though drawn from their writings, doesn’t characterize these historical, intensely charismatic figures consistently or believably.

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