Apollinaire Theatre Company Journeys to the Russian Empire with “Three Sisters”

 

by James Wilkinson

 

Three Sisters – Written by Anton Chekhov, adapted by Tracey Letts. Presented by Apollinaire Theatre Company. Directed, Sets and Lights by Danielle Fauteux Jacques. Costume Design by Elizabeth Rocha. Sound Design by Camilo Atehortua. Musical Direction by Demetrius Fuller & Robert Orzalli. Dialect Coach, Christopher Sherwood Davis. Presented by the Apollinaire Theatre Company at 189 Winnisimmet St, Chelsea through January 21

 

I have found that there’s a very odd phenomena in the theater community where the plays of Anton Chekhov are concerned. Everyone sort of assumes that everyone loves Chekhov (his work, that is). Personally, I’ve always run hot and cold with his plays, though I would be hard pressed to be able to put my finger on exactly why. I enjoy Uncle Vanya and a number of his comic sketches, but I haven’t been able to stomach getting through even a reading of either The Seagull or The Cherry Orchard since college. Three Sisters, however, has always stood apart in my mind. For some reason, that’s the play of his where all of the elements click together and the genius of Chekhov becomes apparent to me. I adore the play. When I walked into Apollinaire Theatre Company’s production of Three Sisters, now playing at Chelsea Theatre Works, I went with high expectations and can joyfully report back that the production more than met them. If you’ve never before encountered the work of the great Russian master, then Apollinaire Theatre Company’s production is a fantastic introduction.

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Manual Cinema’s ‘Ada/Ava’ Uses Old School Technology to Present Haunting Tale at ArtsEmerson

 

by Mike Hoban

 

Ada/AvaCreated by Manual Theater; Directed by Drew Dir; Sound Design and Original Score by Kyle Vegter and Ben Kauffman; Designed by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, and Julia Miller. Presented by Manual Cinema and ArtsEmerson at the Paramount Theatre, 559 Washington Street, Boston through January14th.

 

One of the great pleasures of being a theater reviewer in Boston is getting to see productions that push the boundaries of traditional theater, and nobody serves up such a mind-blowing amalgamation of cool stuff as ArtsEmerson, which continues to amaze with its latest offering, Ava/Ada. You’re not likely to see an overhead projector used as anything but a prop in any theatrical production these days, but Chicago-based Manual Cinema employs four of them as the primary technology to create a kind animated silent film that is alternately touching and unsettling. The projectors are used in conjunction with hundreds of shadow puppets and live action silhouettes, and the “movie” is supported by a killer live band (with a quadraphonic sound system) that establishes the haunting tone for this provocative work.

 

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NSMT’s Delivers Spirited ‘Christmas Carol’

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Bill Hanney’s North Shore Music Theatre’s holiday show this year is the 27th Anniversary production of “A Christmas Carol, A Musical Ghost Story” which is an annual favorite. This version of this well known holiday tale was written by former NSMT artistic director, Jon Kimball which he adapted back in 1989. As Jon explains “A Christmas Carol” is a timeless story that still resonates with people of all ages and carries a message that is as genuine and poignant now as it was when it was first written back in 1843. This splendid musical version captures the true spirit and meaning of the holiday season for one and all.

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“Nurse Play” is Strange, Surreal, and Satisfying

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By Evan McKenna

 

“Nurse Play” – Created and Written by James Wilkinson; Directed by Joe Juknievich; Stage Management by Tori Skoniecki; Movement Director Kayleigh Kane. Presented by Exiled Theatre at Boston Playwright’s Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston through December 17

 

“Black Pawn to E four,” says Nurse, engaging in a verbal game of chess with her bed-bound, disabled patient, Joe. “White pawn to E five” Joe defiantly replies. Nurse sits alone at the only table in the small, poorly lit room, sunglasses over her hollowed-out eyes and a stack of Blondie records next to her record player, waiting to make her next move.

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Greater Boston Stage’s ‘She Loves Me’ a Joyful Musical Journey

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Greater Stage of Boston’s winter show this year is Joe Masteroff’s 1963 musical, “She Loves Me” with music and lyrics by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick (who also wrote “Fiddler on the Roof.”) This musical is based on a 1930’s play by Miklos Laszlo on which the movies “The Shop Around the Corner”, “In the Good Old Summertime” and “You’ve Got Mail” are also based. “She Loves Me” takes place in a perfume shop in Hungary in 1930 and the characters live in a world of love and longing.

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Huntington’s Hilarious ‘Tartuffe’ Keeps Classic Relevant

 

By Mike Hoban

 

‘Tartuffe’ – Written by Molière, Translated by Ranjit Bolt, Directed by Peter DuBois; Scenic Design, Alexander Dodge; Costume Design, Anita Yavich; Lighting Design, Christopher Akerlind; Sound Design, Ben Emerson; Choreographer, Daniel Pelzig; Original Music, Peter Golub. Presented by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Avenue of the Arts/Huntington Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave., Boston, through December 10

 

As someone who did not grow up reading the classics, and came into the theater later in life, I must admit that I don’t usually share the same sense of glee as some of my counterparts when it comes to reviewing plays written before the 19th century. The archaic language and rhythmic structure often make it difficult for the untrained ear to follow, and by the time I catch on, the first act is usually half over. Such is not the case with Tartuffe, the wickedly funny 1664 comedy by Molière now being staged at the Huntington. Powered by a wonderfully oily performance by Brett Gelman in the title role, Tartuffe is as accessible as any 20th century work, and a howl to boot.

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‘Three Fifths Traveling Minstrel Show’ Entertains and Provokes

 

 

by Evan McKenna

 

‘Three Fifths Traveling Minstrel Show’ – Created and Written by James Scruggs. Directed by Mark Rayment. Presented by Sleeping Weazel at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, 527 Tremont St. Boston, through 11/9

 

We live in an age when too much political discourse takes place over Facebook and Twitter, where we can safely hide our opinions behind screen names. We can choose to ignore the perspectives of those whom we disagree with and move on. But that liberty is lost when you are confined to an intimate room with a diverse audience, where a play about racial issues is being staged. Such was the case with James Scruggs’ tense and confrontational “Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show” which made its debut at the BCA.

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Revisiting History with The Longwood Players’ “A Bright Room Called Day”

 

by James Wilkinson

 

The Longwood Players present A Bright Room Called Day by Tony Kushner. Nov 3-11, 2017. Presented at Chelsea Theatre Works. Directed by Kaitlyn Chantry. Set Design by John Randell. Lighting Design by Erik Foxx. Costume Design by Sandy Chantry. Sound Design by Lee Neikirk. Projection Design by Sunil Doshi. Prop Designer by Kaitlyn Chantry and Kat McCorkle.

 

I have a friend who absolutely refuses to read a book more than once. Her reasoning is that once she knows what’s going to happen in the story, (AKA the plot), she loses interest. For her, the magic is in finding out what happens next. Personally, I’ve never been that sort of person (and have argued with her on that point many times), but her theory is one that you often find lobbed at theater companies, especially those who specialize in the classical cannon (“Why, oh why do we need to see yet another production of Hamlet?”). To those people I would say that a theater script isn’t like a novel or a movie, which remains fixed each time the viewer comes to it. A play script is more like a template or, if you like, a tool box. Even within the most precise of writers there can be a great deal of variety in how a theater director explores the possibilities the playwright lays out. As an audience member, there can be a great deal of fun in going to a new production of a play you’ve seen before and saying “How are they going to tackle this one?”

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Sleeping Weazel Combines Thought-Provoking Message, Humor with “Traveling Minstrel Show”

 

Review by James Wilkinson

 

3/Fifths’ Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show. Conceived and Written by James Scruggs. Directed by Mark Rayment. Scenic and Graphic Design by Michael O’Reilly. Video Design by Jason Batcheller. Lighting Design by Bridget K. Doyle. Sound Design by Mark Van Hare. Choreographed by Nejla Yatkin. Makeup Artist: Brian Strumwasser. Presented by Sleeping Weazel through November 11.

 

There’s an inherent irony present in this review which I cannot help but appreciate. A white male is going to tell you what he thinks about a show that is very concerned with examining what happens when black men do not have control over their own narratives. If this is the kind of scenario that bothers you, then feel free to check out after this paragraph (I promise that I won’t take it personally). I’ll boil the review down to this: You should go see Sleeping Weazel’s production of James Scrugg’s play, 3/Fifths’ Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show. You should see it, form your own opinion on the work and contribute to the conversation that Scruggs and his director, Mark Rayment are trying to start.

 

Still with me? Fantastic…

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ArtsEmerson Delivers Tense and Moving “Kiss”

 

by Michele Markarian

 

‘Kiss – Written by Guillermo Calderon. Directed by David Dower. Presented by ArtsEmerson, at the Emerson Paramount Center, Jackie Liebergott Black Box, 559 Washington St, Boston, through November 19.

 

“Kiss” begins as a televised performance of what appears to be a melodrama from Syria, loaded with betrayal of both friendship and love, staged by young Americans. The character of Hadeel (Ashley Dixon) is being propositioned by the character of Yusef (Derek Brian Demkowicz), despite the fact that both of them are friends with their respective others, the characters Ahmed (Brandon Beach) and Bana (DeeDee Elbieh). “Hate is fire – the beginning of a second love,” Yusef tells Hadeel, who tries to resist him. “Right now you think you hate me, but that’s just the beginning”.  Hurt feelings and jealousy come into play with the arrival of Ahmed and later, Bana, especially after Bana announces triumphantly that she has been kissed. She does chastise Yusef for his odd revolt from the relationship with “Before you break up, you have to become distant and weird”, which he has not done.

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