The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time and the Mystery and Suspense Genre

 

by Michael Cox

 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-TimeAdapted by Simon Stephens from the novel by Mark Haddon. Produced by Speakeasy Stage Company and playing at the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion October 20 – November 25.

 

Just after midnight in Swindon, a town 71 miles West of London, fifteen-year-old Christopher John Francis Boone finds a dog brutally murdered in his neighbor’s garden. Wellington, a cherished family pet, has been impaled with a pitchfork and is still pinned to the ground. Mrs. Eileen Shears, the owner of the dog and the garden, calls the police. And when they arrive they’re looking for answers. But Christopher can’t provide them. Instead, he assaults the officer.

 

As The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time unfolds, Christopher tells us his side of the story. He writes it down in a notebook as part of a school project, and he chooses to convey the experience as a murder mystery.

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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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NSMT’s “42ND STREET”

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Welcome back to 1933 and the wonderful world of tapping feet in “42nd Street” at North Shore Music Theatre with a huge cast of 30 performers. It is loosely based on the 1933 movie musical with the same name which starred Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell. The stage musical version opened on August 25, 1980 and ran until January 8, 1989, won the Tony Award for Best Musical. It starred Jerry Orbach as Julian Marsh and Tammy Grimes as Dorothy Brock and I was fortunate enough to catch that musical back in 1980. “42nd Street” is the tale of up and coming chorus girl, Peggy Sawyer who arrives in New York seeking a career on Broadway.

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“In the Heights” Soars at Wheelock Family Theatre

 

By Michele Markarian

 

In the Heights.  Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Book Quiara Alegria Hudes.  Directed by Rachel Bertone.   Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre, 200 The Riverway, Boston, MA, through November 19.

 

I don’t know if anyone remembers watching the 2008 Tony awards, but the winner of that year’s Best Musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda, rapped his acceptance speech. “What an odd little guy”, I thought, with a mixture of admiration and disdain (even for the Tonys, it was an unusual form of acceptance speech). I never felt compelled to see “In the Heights”, but given the quality of Wheelock Family Theatre’s musical productions, I figured, why not?  This wonderful show, expertly directed and choreographed by Rachel Bertone, does not disappoint.

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Lyric’s “Souvenir” a Keeper

 

By Michele Markarian

 

‘Souvenir’ – Written by Stephen Temperley.  Directed by Spiro Veloudos.  Presented by The Lyric Stage Company of Boston, 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA through November 19.

 

“How many people have already seen the show?” asked Producing Artistic Director Spiro Veloudos during his curtain speech. A large number of hands went up in the audience. “What the heck?  Who sees a show twice?” I thought. After seeing “Souvenir” once, I get it.  This is one of the funniest shows I’ve seen all year, with its two performers wonderfully in tune with each another.

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‘Silent Sky’ Shines Brightly at MRT

 

By Mike Hoban

 

‘Silent Sky’ – Written by Lauren Gunderson; Directed by Sean Daniels; Set Design by James J. Fenton; Costume Design by Anne Kennedy; Lighting Design by Brian J. Lilienthal; and Original Composition and Sound by David Keeton. Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre at the 50 East Merrimack Street through November 12

 

Lauren Gunderson’s ‘Silent Sky’, now being given glorious life by Merrimack Rep’s first rate production, is proof positive that science can indeed be fun. It certainly helps that it’s the science of the stars – and its infinite possibilities – at the heart of this dramedy, which is uplifting without hitting us over the head with the very real importance of its subject matter. Silent Sky tells the story of Henrietta Swan Leavitt, the groundbreaking astronomer who devised a method of analysis that established “the relationship between period and luminosity in Cepheid variables” – which essentially provided the building blocks for the discovery that the universe is considerably bigger (by billions of times) than previously thought.

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Huntington’s “A Guide for the Homesick” Artfully Mixes Global Politics, Personal Pain

 

by Mike Hoban

 

A Guide for the Homesick – Written by Ken Urban. Directed by Colman Domingo. Scenic Design by William Boles; Original Music and Sound Design by Lindsay Jones; Costume Design by Kara Harmon; Lighting Design by Russell H. Champa. Presented by Huntington Theatre Company at the Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts, through Nov. 4.

 

About a third of the way through A Guide for the Homesick, the outstanding new drama being presented by the Huntington Theatre Company, it becomes apparent that this is not going to be your typical “boy-meets-boy, boy-is-closeted, boy-gets-boy” story. Instead, what we get is an utterly engrossing new work that weaves religiopolitical and mental health issues into a tale of two men (who just met) sharing their guilt and remorse over their potentially life-destroying screw-ups in a place far from home. The play, written by Huntington Playwriting Fellow Ken Urban, features two Boston-born protagonists, and is fittingly receiving its premiere at the Boston Center for the Arts’ Calderwood Pavilion.

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“Oleanna” Stirs a Disturbing Debate

 

By Michele Markarian

 

‘Oleanna’ – Written by David Mamet.  Directed by Elaine Vaan Hogue. Presented by New Repertory Theatre, Arsenal Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA through November 5

 

I feel like I need to start this review off by saying that I am – absolutely – a feminist.  Keep reading, and you’ll see why.

 

“Oleanna” takes place in the office of John (Johnny Lee Davenport), a professor at a college whose impending tenure has just been announced. The subsequent raise in pay is allowing him to purchase a new home. A series of phone calls negotiating the details of this real estate transaction is interrupted by the arrival of Carol (Obehi Janice), a student who claims to be having difficulty with his class and in particular, his textbook. The textbook, one that he has authored himself, refers to higher education as “systematic hazing”. As someone who has worked hard to get herself to college, Carol is deeply offended by this. As she despairs at being too “stupid” to understand what is going on in his classroom, John offers to give her an A, if she agrees to meet with him for tutoring sessions. This decision will ultimately be John’s downfall.

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