The Sumptuous Tragedy of “Edward II”

 

By Michele Markarian

 

“Edward II” – Written by Christopher Marlowe; Directed by David R. Gammons; Set Designer, Sara Brown; Lighting Designer, Jeff Adelberg; Costume Designer,  Rachel Padula-Shufelt; Sound Designer, Dave Wilson. Presented by Actors Shakespeare Project, Charlestown Working Theater, 442 Bunker Hill Street, Charlestown, through March 19.

 

By most accounts, Edward II was a failure as king, considered weak, inept, and prone to lavishing money on his favorites. He fathered at least one illegitimate child and was reputed to enjoy the company of lower-class people, including his alleged homosexual lover, Piers Gaveston. It is this relationship and its repercussions that are the focus of Christopher Marlowe’s accessible and exciting play, “Edward II”.

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ART Delivers Compelling Take on Williams’ ‘Night of The Iguana’

 

by Mike Hoban

 

Night of the Iguana – Written by Tennessee Williams; Directed by Michael Wilson; Scenic Design by Derek McLane; Costume Design by Catherine Zuber: Lighting Design by David Lander; Sound Design by John Gromada. Presented by The American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St., Cambridge through March 18.

 

In “Night of the Iguana” the star-studded production now being mounted by the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Tennessee Williams may ostensibly be tackling the weightier themes of sex and religion, but at its core, the play is still about loneliness in its many forms. Williams has assembled a collection of principal characters, led by a “defrocked” clergyman turned second-rate tour guide, that have lived their entire lives without ever making that vital – and risky – connection to another human being. And during the 24 hour span which “Iguana” takes place, we experience the messy process of watching the characters trying to make themselves whole by trying to find that human bond.

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“AUGUST OSAGE COUNTY” (Little Theatre of Fall River)

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Little Theatre of Fall River’s current main stage show is “August Osage County” by Tracy Letts. The show won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize as well as five Tony Awards. It takes place in August, 2007 in a large country home outside Pawhuska, Oklahoma. It tells the story of the dysfunctional Weston family who all come together after the disappearance of Beverly Weston, the patriarch. The father opens the show when he is hiring an Indian woman, Johanna to look after his wife. He is a published poet who likes to quote T.S. Eliot. He delivers these ominous words “My wife takes pills and I drink. That is the bargain we have reached” which opens the gates to the adventure and whirlwind journey that the audience takes in this three act play. The couple’s three daughters, Barbara, Ivy and Karen are called back to the family home with husbands and beaus with them. Beverly’s wife, Violet is battling mouth cancer and a growing dependency on pain pills. They return to comfort their mother in her time of need and to try to get to the bottom of their father’s disappearance. Violet’s entire clan returns including her sister, Mattie Faye Aiken, her husband, Charles and their son, Little Charles. As the clan bickers and jokes, old truths come to the surface, jealousies flourish and eventually each one of the characters confront some past hurt and future fear. The moment as each one leaves Violet, is a marvelous moment in this show. It can be likened to Regina’s fate at the end of “The Little Foxes” when her daughter leaves her alone with her ill gotten gain of money. However this one is heard in the 21st Century. Director Roberto Soares casts these roles beautifully and obtains stunning performances from each one of them in this dramedy.

Leading this cast is Linda Monchik as Violet. Violet is an evil mom too end all evil moms, done with black comic moments thrown in the mix. She is excellent in this riveting role. The lesson to learn from these characters is you better be a good person or you’ll end up tasting your own poisonous venom. Her insults and running rough shod over the other characters is splendid to behold. The sordid secrets of the family come tumbling out wonderfully. Other colorful characters include Ron Caisse as Beverly, who delivers a strong monologue to start off the show as well as Violet’s strong willed daughters. Pamela Morgan is a powerhouse as Barbara. She delivers a tour-de-force performance. Her argument scene with her mother, husband, Bill and sisters are show stopping moments. These scenes are mesmerizing with their intensity. Michael McGill does a great job as Bill who tries to help his ex-wife with her problems with her dysfunctional family. Another impressive scene is the battle between Violet and Barbara about who will control the family. Violet needs Barbara’s help in Act 1 but then continually insults her in Act 2. Barbara finally puts her in her place in the dinner from hell sequence. It tells of the cruelty of family life but sometimes some kindness is thrown into the mix.

Erica Vitelli plays the youngest daughter, Ivy who has lived near her parents all her life. Now she wants to run off with Little Charles but there is a dark hidden secret that might explode at any moment. The argument scene between Linda, Pam and Erica is riveting and electrifying. Kathleen Povar plays the sexpot sister, Karen very well. She is engaged to Steve, a handsome cad in sheep’s clothing who tries to seduce her 14 year old niece, Jean. Strong performances are given in these roles by Ray Almeida Jr. as Steve and Shauna Brosky as Jean. Other amazing performers include Jay Burke as Charles who delivers a terrific speech to tell off his wife from insulting their son, the biggest scene stealer is Deb Sadler as Mattie Faye who delivers her many hilarious one liners perfectly and has a hidden secret that rocks the family with high intensity and Jeffrey Griffin as Little Charles who loves Ivy. Rounding out the cast are Nadine Goulet as Johanna and Richard Brosky as the Sheriff. So for a stunning, well written and provocative black comedy, be sure to catch “August Osage County” at Little Theatre of Fall River. It will definitely make you appreciate your own family after witnessing this messed up one. This electrifying show wins a well deserved standing ovation at the end of the night.  A word of praise for the stunning three story set designed by Roberto and built by George Sadler and his crew. Run do not walk to the box office before time runs out. Tell them Tony sent you.

AUGUST OSAGE COUNTY (16 to 19 March)

Little Theatre of Fall River, BCC, 777 Elsbree St, Fall River, MA

1(508)675-1852 or www.littletheatre.net

“ROMEO AND JULIET” (Community Theater)

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The Players fourth show of their 108th season is “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare. It is considered to be one of the greatest works of romantic literature. Written in 1591, it is a story of deep passions which come out as lover or violence, the tragic tale soars with the poetry of heartbreak and doomed but perfect love. It can also been seen as a contemporary play with gang violence, emotionally absent parents, generation gap frustrations, reckless youth, unbridled passion and torrid romantic love. Director Roger Lemelin casts his show splendidly and blends the comic and dramatic moments together marvelously, too.

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“Shirley Valentine” at 2nd Story Theatre

By Richard Pacheco

 

“Shirley Valentine” is a one-character play by Willy Russell. Taking the form of a monologue by a middle-aged, working class Liverpool housewife, it focuses on her life before and after a transforming holiday abroad. Russell turned the acclaimed play into a film staring the actress who did the show on stage in London’s West End, Pauline Collins.

 

The current production at 2nd Story offers a bravura performance by Joanne Fayan that bristles, sparkles and delights without hesitation and without stop.

 

Shirley is stuck in her life, caught and trapped in the dull day to day in Liverpool. There seems to be no escape from her doldrums which daily encroach on her and only leave her with faded dreams and lost hopes, in short leave her in a dismal state longing for more. Shirley finds herself regularly alone and talking to the wall while preparing an evening meal of egg and chips for her emotionally distant husband. Her friend whose husband left her for the milkman, offers to take her along on a trip to Greece, all expenses paid and Shirley can’t resist. Her two children often annoy and distress her with their attitudes and antics. Her husband is often distant and self-absorbed leaving her feeling trapped with no way out of her dilemma, which only seems to get worse everyday.

So when she heads off to Greece she does with a mixture of trepidation and excitement. Here is a chance to revive herself and her life to reconnect with the Shirley Valentine who was bold and daring and tamed down when she became a wife, misplacing her sense of daring and love of life. In Greece, she is ignites in her love of life and herself once again, reviving her sense of daring and adventure, stirring her courage once again.

Joanne Fayan is raw delight in the role. She is poised and astute in her depiction of Shirley’s conflicting fees and dreams. She has personality that she exudes without fail. When she rants about her husband and her disappointments, it is comic gems, delivered with the right mixture so sassy and smart. The only thing missing from the performance is a Liverpool accent and frankly with this kind of gem of a performance, that is minimal and better no accent that a horrid one. Fayan’s performance makes up for this with a zest and convincing passion that illuminates the stage.

Mark Peckham directs with a sureness of touch and real energy, which takes full advantage of the theater in the round set up at 2nd Story’s upstairs theatre. He moves her with grace and supple confidence throughout the space, a sheer delight.

The setting and light design by Max Ponticelli is right on the mark evoking both the Liverpool flat and the Greek ruins with discrete and slight touches that work perfectly.

This is a bold and superb performance that shimmers with verve and personality, leaving an indelible mark in the memory and the heart. Ms.Fayan got a well deserved standing ovation at the end for her memorable performance. You don’t want to miss it.

It will be presented again until April 2in the Upstage theater with tickets: Regular – $35, Preview (online) – $20, Preview (phone/in-person) – $25. Under 25 – $25* Matinees are Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday matinees at 2:30.

“Shirley Valentine” at 2nd Story Theatre

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

2nd Story Theatre’s current show is “Shirley Valentine”, a comedy by Willy Russell. Inside Mrs. Joe Bradshaw, a 42 year old mother of two grown children, is the former Shirley Valentine longing to get out. Her schoolgirl dreams have faded and she is reduced to talk to the kitchen wall while preparing her husband’s evening meal. It is to be on the table at the same time every night as he opens the front door. Her feminist friend, Jane offers her a trip to Greece, and with great trepidation, Shirley seizes the opportunity and goes, to encounter a totally new lifestyle there. This one person show contains humor, pathos, warm sympathy and human insight. It contains a tour de force performance by Joanne Fayan in the title role who captures the essence of this character perfectly. The whole audience rose to their feet at the end of her phenomenal performance. Brava!

Director Mark Peckham cast the right person for this role and elicits a stunning, multilayered performance from Joanne. He blends the comic and dramatic moments together splendidly. The show takes place in two acts. The first is set in a kitchen in Liverpool, England and the second is set on a secluded Greek island beach with a taverna. The sets by Max Ponticelli are superb. In the first act Shirley tells the problems of her life to the kitchen wall while drinking a glass of wine during scene one. The Nativity story with her son as Joseph is hilarious. In scene two, she tells the wall that she has decided to take the trip without telling her husband while running around getting ready to leave. She wants life beyond the wall and her neighbor gives a silk robe to take with her on her trip. The second act reveals how Shirley has become a free spirit again while recapturing her long lost youth. Shirley realizes it is what you want to do that is more important than what you have to do. Joanne runs the gamut of emotions in this role, keeping your attention during the whole 86 page script. She is absolutely brilliant in this role, making this one of the must see shows of this season. So for a powerhouse one woman show, be sure to catch “Shirley Valentine” at 2nd Story Theatre. Tell them Tony sent you.

SHIRLEY VALENTINE (10 March to 2 April)

2nd Story Theatre, 28 Market St, Warren, RI

1(401)847-4200 or www.2ndstorytheatre.com

 

Apollinaire Blinds Us With Science with Provocative ‘Informed Consent’

 

by Mike Hoban

 

Informed Consent – Written by Deborah Zoe Laufer; Directed by Dale J. Young; Set Design by Jessica Pizzut; Sound Design by Camilo Atehortua; Costume Design by Elizabeth Rocha; Lighting Design by Danielle Fauteux Jacques. Presented by the Apollinaire Theatre Company at the Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet St., Chelsea through March 12.

 

Informed Consent, the unsettling and thought-provoking work now being staged by Apollinaire at the Chelsea Theatre Works, is – on the surface – about finding the middle ground between science and belief systems that may or may not serve a greater purpose for those that hold them. But it is, at its core, a very human story. Powered by an affecting performance by Becca A. Lewis, it is a compelling tale of how rigidly applying science and logic devoid of any real humanness can complicate rather than solve complex problems. It is also a very human story of how fear-driven behavior can cripple one’s ability to connect with the rest of the universe in a meaningful way.

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Company One’s ‘Really’ a Painfully Brilliant Work of Art

Rachel Cognata and Kippy Goldfarb in REALLY (photo by Paul Fox)

 

Really – Written by Jackie Sibblies Drury; Directed by Shawn LaCount; Costume Design by Amanda Mujica; Lighting Design by Jason Fok Scenic & Properties Design by Ben Lieberson; Sound Design by Lee Schuna. Presented by Company One Theatre in Partnership with Matter & Light Fine Art, a gallery in SoWa, 450 Harrison Ave., Boston through March 12.

 

 

There’s a touchingly beautiful song by Jackson Browne called “Fountain of Sorrow,” which begins with the songwriter stumbling across some photographs of an old girlfriend and remembering what their time together was like. In the song, he’s struck by one of the pictures of  her that he knows she may not have liked as much as the others, but that showed her “true” spirit, including a “a trace of sorrow in (her) eyes” – that forces him to realize “what I was seeing wasn’t what was happening at all” in the relationship.

 

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Trinity Rep’s “A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM”

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Trinity Rep’s current show is Shakespeare’s romantic comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” It was suggested by “The Knight’s Tale” from Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” and was written between 1594 to 1596. This version is set at a 1986  Spring High School dance.

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“URINETOWN” (Bristol Theatre Company)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Bristol Theatre Company’s current show is “Urinetown” which won three Tony Awards in 2002. “Urinetown” is set in the future where a drought of epic proportions has forced corrupt officials to come up with a unique way to conserve water: people may only use public restrooms and they must pay for the privilege. Fed-up citizens take to the streets, but those breaking the law are carted off to the mysterious “Urinetown” never to be seen or heard from again. The satirical musical pokes fun at and sends up “The Threepenny Opera”, “Annie”, “Fiddler on the Roof”, “West Side Story” and the Gershwin romances simultaneously. Director Chris Plonka casts all these roles beautifully and infuses the show with high energy from start to finish. He also brings out the light hearted side and brings the much needed tongue in cheek humor it deserves. Diane Campagna creates all the dance steps which spoofs the other shows wonderfully while musical director, Mario Sasso supplies the topnotch musical direction to pull off this unique and funny show.

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