Huntington’s ‘Who and the What’ Examines American Muslim Family Life From the Inside


By Mike Hoban


‘The Who & the What’ – Written by Ayad Akhtar; Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara; Scenic Design by Cristina Todesco; Costume Design by Mary Lauve; Lighting Design by Annie Wiegand; Sound Design by M.L. Dogg, and Original Music by Saraswathi Jones. Presented by Huntington Theatre Company at Wimberly Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St., Boston through May 7

“Anything worth believing in, is worth questioning,” a friend with a healthy skepticism of all things institutional once told me. That thought came to mind while watching “The Who & the What,” the intense but often comical drama now being staged by the Huntington Theatre at the Calderwood Pavilion. And while questioning long held beliefs that are accepted as truth – particularly those of the religious sort – may be a healthy intellectual exercise and a path to true wisdom, challenging the belief systems of others usually has consequences, as it does for the central character in this very funny and thoughtful play.

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Bridge Rep/Playhouse Creatures’ “Mrs. Packard” A Nightmarish Journey Into the Bad Old Days


by Mike Hoban


Mrs. Packard – Written by Emily Mann; Directed by Emily Ranii; Scenic Design by Jon Savage; Lighting Design by Ed Intemann; Costume Design by Chelsea Kerl; Sound Design by Don Tindall. Presented by Bridge Repertory Theatre in a co-production with Playhouse Creatures Theatre Co. of NYC at the Multicultural Arts Center, 41 Second St., Cambridge through April 9


When I was a boy in middle school, I was a huge fan of the B horror films that ran on Saturday afternoon showcases like Creature Double Feature. There weren’t many classics in the “Dracula” or “Frankenstein” vein, but there was plenty of silly dreck like “Attack of the Giant Leeches” and “The Thing That Wouldn’t Die” that were more laughable than frightening. But there was one film that truly did horrify me, and that was “Bedlam”, a low rent Boris Karloff vehicle that told the story of a woman wrongly committed to an insane asylum in Victorian England known as Bedlam – which was depicted as a Hollywood backlot version of Hell on Earth. What made it so terrifying was that while there no traditional movie monsters, Bedlam was a real place, and the monsters were the evil men running the asylum.

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Huntington’s Dark Comedy “Topdog/Underdog” Examines Life as Rigged Game


by Mike Hoban


‘Topdog/Underdog’ – Written by Suzan-Lori Parks; Directed by Billy Porter; Scenic and Costume Design by Clint Ramos; Lighting Design by Driscoll Otto; Sound Design by Leon Rothenberg. Presented by The Huntington Theatre Company, 264 Huntington Ave, Boston through April 9.


In “Topdog/Underdog” the Pulitzer Prize-winning tragicomic drama now being staged by the Huntington Theatre, playwright Suzan-Lori Parks gives us a front row seat into the lives of two damaged brothers alternately chasing/escaping a warped version of the American dream – one that is exclusively reserved for those on the lower rungs of society’s ladder. The vehicle for that dream happens to be “Three-card Monte”, a sucker’s game played by street hustlers in large American cities, but the allure of the fast-money-for-little-work scheme could be applied to any number of similar cons (drug-dealing, prostitution) embraced by those growing up in economically-distressed urban environments. And while the play focuses solely on the interplay between the troubled pair in this intense two-hander, the parents who abandoned them, as well as the love interest of one of the men, loom as large players in this raw and explosive work.

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imaginary beasts’ Winter Panto is Devilishly Good Fun!


By CJ Williams


‘Winter Panto 2017 – Princess and the Pea – by Imaginary Beasts; Directed by Matthew Woods; Set and Sound Design by Jason Sherwood and Matthew Woods; Set Construction by Daniel Atchason and Joe Oullette; Puppet Design by Beth Owens and Jill Rogati; Stage Management by Nate Goebel; Costume Design by Cotton Talbot-Minkin;  Lighting design by Chris Bocchiaro. Presented by Imaginary Beasts at Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116 through February 4.


You don’t have to be a child to enjoy the delightful Winter Pantomime being put on by Imaginary Beasts this chill season – nor do you have to be an adult to giggle at the devilish and timely jabs and jibes the troupe insert regarding current events and personalities. As I sat in the theatre this weekend, surrounded by old, young, and innumerable in-betweens, the slapstick and sly both elicited hearty merriment. Sometimes, the stuff I thought might go over the littler one’s heads got the largest laughs from them in particular. But this is partially because the audience-involved pandemonium was written – and performed – with enough versatility that where subtle politics miss some, there’s enough energy and incongruity to the situations themselves to leave humor a-plenty, references aside.

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Echoes of the Past Pulse through the Present in “Incident at Vichy”


By Michele Markarian


Incident at Vichy, by Arthur Miller.  Directed by Hatem Adel and Daniel Boudreau.  Presented by Praxis Stage, Inner Sanctum, 1127 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA, through January 26.


The year is 1942.  Nine men and one fifteen-year old boy find themselves in a detention center in Vichy, France.  With one exception, none of them have committed any crime in the eyes of the authorities, save for one thing – they’re Jewish. The reality of this fact differs for each of them – several men, like Leduc and Lebeau, have been in hiding already. Monceau, an actor, believes that with the right aplomb, he can pull off anything, including false papers. The Waiter, who regularly serves the German officers, keeps insisting that they’re nice. Bayard, a Socialist electrician, believes that the working class will rise up and defeat the elitist Nazis. He is incensed when von Berg, the only known non-Jew in the prison, insists that the Nazis are working class. The tension between those who are in denial of what is happening around them and those who know the truth is only eclipsed by the tension and fear that they all share at being held.  Various authority figures come in and out of the room, occasionally summoning one of the captives to another room offstage, which only makes the men more fearful.


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