Let's Talk Off Broadway

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

Tag: Pearl Theatre Company

Review | Charles Dickens’ Hard Times | Adapted by Stephen Jeffreys | Directed by J. R. Sullivan | Pearl Theatre Company

Dickens wrote a play?  How interesting, I want to see this?  I thought, learning about the Pearl Theatre’s presentation of Hard Times,  and too intrigued to bother to read further.  But Dickens didn’t write this play* — it’s an adaptation by Stephen Jeffreys from Dickens’ novel Hard Times as I learned when I focused in.  The acting in the Pearl’s production is marvelous, and there are flashes of interest extracted from Dickens but the play is diffuse and comes across as overlong, hinting at its origin in a book that was written to be read gradually — serialized over many weeks. 

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Review | Misalliance by George Bernard Shaw | Directed by Jeff Steiter | Pearl Theatre Company

.. an update on Hypatia …

What a lark!  What delicious wit!  What a pleasure to see the Pearl’s production of Shaw’s Misalliance!  It would be hard to have a better time.
All the events of Misalliancetake place one summer day in the conservatory of the Tarletons’ English country mansion.  John Tarleton has made a fortune in underwear, “rags-to-riches” you might say, yet in this play written in 1909 one of his guests is a British Lord, along with the Lord’s son who wants to marry Tarleton’s daughter, Hypatia.  Thus one of the themes of the play is about the new melding among the classes in England, as the upper class gets poorer and the upper middle class gets richer and buys them out.

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Review | Playboy of the Western World by J. M. Synge | Directed by J. R. Sullivan | Pearl Theatre Company

… not all ‘classics’ are classic …

J. M. Synge’s Playboy of the Western World is an overrated classic. It’s a well constructed play hinging on a preposterous idea: that an entire isolated Irish village, particularly the women, would become totally infatuated with a young man who appears suddenly among them because, according to him, he killed his father in an act of rage. It doesn’t hold water.

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Review | Vieux Carre by Tennessee Williams | Directed by Austin Pendleton | Pearl Theatre Company

… streetcar named memory …

The setting is a run-down boarding house in New Orleans’ French Quarter in the 1930’s and you know you’re in good hands from the first moment.  The house is empty now, The Writer comments at the start, remembering when he lived there, but clearly it isn’t — Mrs. Wire, the landlady is on stage even before the play begins.  With that brilliant contradiction, Williams conveys the paradox of memory.

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Review | Twelfth Night (or What You Will) by William Shakespeare | Directed by J. R. Sullivan | Pearl Theatre Company

…. Let’s Hear it for Malvolio …

If you are collecting “life Shakespeare plays” the way birdwatchers collect “life birds,” here’s a chance to add Twelfth Night.  The stage is large in comparison with the audience space — not a bad seat in the house — and the actors all have good diction so you’ll catch every word, though perhaps not the fullness of the poetry.

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The Oedipus Cycle | Directed by Shepard Sobel | Translated by Peter Constantine | Pearl Theatre Company

The story’s the thing.

The three plays of the Oedipus Cycle at the Pearl Theatre tell a continuous story although Sophocles wrote them “out of order” over vast intervals of his life (~ 496-406 BCE): Antigone, which ends the cycle, when he was in his fifties, Oedipus the King, which starts it, in his sixties, and Oedipus at Colonus,just before he died.  Although they aren’t a true trilogy, the material was with him all his life and the Pearl Theatre gives us the opportunity to see them in narrative sequence, a stimulating experiment. The problem is that in this production the story’s the thing — instead of the play. Twenty five percent of the text has been eliminated, and with it, much of the poetry and meaning. Evidently this was done to make the three plays fit into a single theatrical evening. Also the somewhat lofty language of the translation collides with the fast trendy rhythms of the actors’ speech.

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