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The Seafarer at Merrimack Rep is a Sea of Surprises

November 1, 2009

Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer is currently one of the top 10 most produced plays in America–and after garnering a Tony nomination for Best Play last year, why shouldn’t it be?  It didn’t win (the prize went to August: Osage County by Tracy Letts–but really, any of the four plays nominated in 2008 could have walked away with the Tony), but that clearly hasn’t stunted Seafarer‘s popularity.  With powerful dialogue and memorable characters, playwright McPherson tells a touching story that constantly surprises–and despite its morbid namesake (an Old English poem so sorrowful you’ll want a drink after you read it), it’s funny as hell.  Literally.

The play’s popularity has brought it for a second time to the Boston area, this time at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell (SpeakEasy Stage produced it last year).  If you don’t have a car, getting to Merrimack Rep probably sounds like a pain.  But I decided to make the trek, carless and all–and I am so glad I did.   Artistic Director Charles Towers brings unique vision to the play, and his strong cast lights up the stage, backdropped by an incredible set.  Talent marks Merrimack Rep’s production of The Seafarer, which is mostly hindered, strangely enough, by the Tony Award-nominated script.  Read more…

Fun and games at the Publick Theatre

October 17, 2009

Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virgnia Woolf? falls easily into the top five most brutal plays of the American stage.  If done well, it should be a harrowing ordeal, a 3-hour barrage of relentless cruelty that leaves both audience and cast emotionally exhausted.  While problematic in several ways, the Publick Theatre’s production of Virginia Woolf is exquisitely upsetting, a savage display of powerful acting and unique vision that doesn’t fail to exhaust. Read more…

The Magic of Social Media

October 15, 2009

I am one of three Artistic Directors of a small, growing theatre company, the Independent Drama Society. (Yes, one of three Artistic Directors. It’s weird, I know. But that’s sort of how we roll.) I don’t intend this post to be a plug for my company, so I’ll just keep it short and say that we started producing plays in 2007, have done 4 shows in a legitimate theater, and registered as an organization with the government more recently than I’d like to admit. Although I’ve been with the company since the inception, I only began leading in any sort of capacity when I was suddenly thrust into the role of Marketing and Public Relations Director after the girl who had previously been doing that stuff left the group.

This is where I shamefully admit that I have no knowledge of marketing or public relations. Read more…

A Thursday Night bash

October 10, 2009

“Can I speak?” asks Kate Donnelly, playing “Woman,” as she lights a cigarette. As she speaks, smoke rises up in a towering cloud, stretching hazy and dark towards the single stage light that illuminates her from above. Despite the deliberately tiny performance space (a platform that’s 10×15 at the most), the smoke is not intrusive, though Donnelly lights up at least five times over the course of her half-hour-long monologue. It taints the air with a stale stench that only adds to the extremely pressured atmosphere that the production has created thus far.

This is probably the best way to describe Theatre on Fire‘s production of Neil Labute’s bash: pressured. I really tried to think of another word–really, I spent a long time on it (I don’t even think you can use ‘pressured’ as an adjective, but you know what, this is my blog and I’ll make up words if I want to). But ‘pressured’ just feels right.

Let me try to explain what I mean. Read more…

A Little “Adult Entertainment”

October 6, 2009

Disco tunes pound fast and loud through the tightly packed room. The crowd, pressed shoulder-tight, undulates like waves under a cloud of sweat; it is a sea of spandex and glitter. Powerful spotlights pierce the dark at unpredictable angles, pulsing a groovy technicolor beat. Pretty boys in sexy shorts wind their bodies to the music, beckoning us to dance. High above the floor, the DJ spins another vinyl, and the party kicks into high gear. In here is a world far removed from the puritan streets of Cambridge, a glitzy homage to a funkier time: this is The Donkey Show. Read more…

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