Sunday, August 25, 2013

THE LYONS • Max & Louie Productions

You think you've got a messed up family?  Think again.  Max & Louie Productions closes its 2013 season with a brutally comedic look at one of the most caustic families you're likely to ever meet -- "The Lyons".

The play begins with Ben Lyons (Bobby Miller) lying in a hospital bed dying of cancer while his wife, Rita (Judi Mann), leafs through decorating magazines.  Now that the patriarch of the family is not long for this world, she figures there's no time like the present to think about revamping the living room she's always hated, describing their old sofa as "some washed-out shade of dashed hopes" with a carpet "matted down with resignation".

Sunday, August 18, 2013

TIME STANDS STILL • Insight Theatre Company

Insight Theatre continues its season with a thoughtful character study of sorts by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Donald MarguliesA couple of his plays that I've seen before ("Collected Stories" and "Dinner with Friends") seem to drop the audience into the everyday lives of everyday folks who are on the edge of transition, with gratifying observations about how the characters evolve and are changed during the passage of time.  This captivating production is no exception under John Contini's refined direction.

The play starts with James (Chad Morris) attentively escorting Sarah (Jenni Ryan), his partner of eight years, into their Brooklyn loft.  She's a photojournalist returning to the states with a splintered leg, an arm in a sling and shrapnel scars she suffered from a roadside bomb while covering the war in Iraq.  James, a reporter, was there too, but had a breakdown and left before her accident -- having to go into therapy to work through the horrors he witnessed.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

THE SUNSET LIMITED • Theatre Lab

There's another new theatre company on the scene, folks -- Theatre Lab, and according to the "About" section provided in the program, the "Lab" part of its title "…indicates that our company likes to experiment.", with intentions of presenting a variety of work chosen by the performers, when the work is ready, and a commitment to a high level of quality.  Well so far, score.  Theatre Lab has come out of the gate with a striking two-hander written by the author of No Country for Old Men, novelist and playwright, Cormac McCarthy.

As the audience files into the Gaslight Theater, the characters, simply noted as "Black" (Robert Mitchell) and "White" (Zachary Allen Farmer), are engaged in a card game onstage.  As their dialogue unravels, we learn that Black has brought White back to his run-down New York City apartment after snatching him from the path of an oncoming passenger train.  Black, an ex-con and devout Christian is cool and relaxed, affably extolling the bible to White, a disillusioned professor, agitated and anxious to leave.  What follows in this intermission-less hour and a half or so, is a bit of a ping-pong match of existential exchanges -- prodding each other for the basis of their opposing beliefs.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

INTO THE WOODS • Ozark Actors Theatre

Road trip!!

OAT's season closer, "Into the Woods", was inspired by Bruno Bettelheim's 1976 book, The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales.  In Sondheim and Lapine's 1987 Tony award winning morality tale, familiar storybook characters, along with a few new ones, venture into a dark forest for different reasons.  They may be known from children's stories, but these woods -- an allegorical rite of passage of sorts, offer up some hard lessons and somber themes for the group that leave the lot of them changed from when their journey began.

After the opening line, "Once upon a time…", our Narrator (Lanin Thomasma) introduces us to our primary players -- Cinderella (Sabra Sellers), Jack (Michael Detmer) and a Baker and his wife (Blane Pressler and Brittany Proia), whose wishes force them all "into the woods".  Cinderella wants to go to the King's Festival and Jack is ordered by his mother (Laura Light) to head to the market to sell his best friend, the family cow, Milky White (Rebecca Light).

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