It’s always an adventure sitting down to watch Shakespeare. Where will this production send its viewers? To what time period or country? Will it be set in a fast-food restaurant or trying to stay as close to a traditional production as possible? The Dzieci Theatre company has taken a risk with its recent production of Makbet, a gypsy-infused performance of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, directed by Matt Mitler. The play is presented in a shipping container in the back of a junkyard in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Although it is an uncomfortable place to ask audience members to sit, the underlit and claustrophobic quarters alert the audience immediately to the darkness of the play.
Words are constantly shifting and changing meaning, and common phrases take on new personas in the world of Lauren Yee’s In a Word. Yee’s play tells the story of Fiona (Laura Ramadei), whose 7-year-old, emotionally disturbed son, Tristan, has been missing for two years. She has no information on his whereabouts, and she sorts through her memories endlessly to find any clue she can about why he disappeared. As Fiona flashes back to past experiences, Yee asks the audience to let go and come along for the ride.
Dutch playwright Lot Vekemans’ Poison, directed by Erwin Maas for Origin Theatre Company, delicately tells a story of loss, pain and grief with an unspoken complexity. This gnawing two-person play, elegantly translated in to English by Rina Vergaano, unfolds in a nondescript white room with an equally nondescript vending machine, a perfect room for waiting. As the audience arrives, actor Michael Laurence, who plays a character known only as He, is found doing just that—waiting. He is checking his phone, pacing, drawing intrigue by the slightest shake of his foot. Laurence conveys the growing stress on He’s nerves, until the light goes down and the play begins. Soon after, his character is joined by an anxious Birgit Huppuch as She, and the intricate layers of their relationship begin to reveal themselves. After having been separated, without speaking, for nine years, the couple has been brought together to discuss what is to be done about the groundwater poisoning that is seeping into the grave of their deceased young son.