Charlie’s Waiting, a new dark comedy by Mêlisa Annis, demonstrates its young author’s flair for weaving comedy and drama together, as well as a wicked imagination. The “what if” behind the plot creates tension that is palpable.
In telling the story of an innocent young man wrongly convicted of a brutal murder, Lee Brock’s highly watchable production of Lyle Kessler’s Perp becomes a battle between good and evil. Its colorful characters challenge black-and-white assumptions, which in turn gives rise to universal questions about which side of this dichotomy they are on. But perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the play is the professional debut of Ali Arkane in the lead role. Arkane’s quirky portrayal of the protagonist Douglass is endearing through and through. With Douglass as the criminal center stage, Perp is one of the most serene crime dramas ever.
Quicksand is an apt name for the ambitious world premiere production of Regina Robbins’ theatrical adaptation of Nella Larsen’s semi-autobiographical work of fiction, written in 1928 and set in the same period. It chronicles the story of Helga Crane, a woman of both mixed ancestry and mixed race, who is, for that very reason, a tortured soul.
Director Kimberly Senior engages the audience from the first beat of Sakina’s Restaurant, performed by its author, Aasif Mandvi, for the 20th-anniversary production of his Obie Award–winning play. Dispensing with the fourth wall, she introduces the central character, Azgi, carrying a suitcase in the aisle of the auditorium, and he lights up the space with his greeting, “Hello, my name is Azgi,” a bright, toothy smile and a twinkle in his eye. Azgi has received a letter from America and is about to set off on the journey of a lifetime—leaving his native India to live and work in a restaurant in the U.S.
Richard Saudek, the creator and performer of the one-man show, Beep Boop, is a self-confessed “idiot who likes to make faces at himself in the mirror.” If his program bio is to be believed, “when he was ten, he ran off to perform in the circus as a young clown, then left the circus at the age of sixteen to pursue other theatrical stuff, such as commedia dell’arte in Florence; improv in Chicago; stilt-walking in Shanghai; burlesque opposite Steve Buscemi; and has portrayed madmen and fools for over a decade all over NYC.” Whether Saudek’s resume is 100 percent accurate or not, one thing is certain: his kind of rigorous talent does not happen overnight.
Discussing rape is not easy in any context. It has scarred our collective humanity; in many societies it is still a taboo subject; it is almost too offensive to broach. Intrusion, a one-woman show written and performed by writer/actor/activist Qurrat Ann Kadwani and directed by Constance Hester, finds a way.
The ups and downs of the creative process are personified as “beasts which must be tamed” in The Stone Witch, a new play by Shem Bitterman. The work is a somewhat convoluted and ultimately contrived attempt to tackle the psychological complexities of creating art. And while Steve Zuckerman’s production is visually and aurally rich, the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts.
Imperfect Love is a “serious romantic comedy” loosely based on the life and work of the 19th-century Italian actress Eleonora Duse and her nine-year love affair and tumultuous working relationship with the poet and playwright Gabriele D’Annunzio. Set in Rome on the stage of the Teatro Argentina in Rome in 1899, the plot of Brandon Cole’s two-act period play follows the backstage dramas of a theater company struggling to produce a new work.
Despite being written and directed by women, Steph Del Rosso’s Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill [or Fill x 7], directed by Marina McClure, is a macho exploration of the female condition. The production at the Flea Theater’s Siggy space, named for Sigourney Weaver, kicks off with confidence, succeeding in creating a stadium-sized atmosphere in a substantially smaller area. The raunchy, adrenalin-infused performance that Roland Lane gives as Noah, an ego-bound pop star on his Break-Up tour, fuels the theater with pheromones. He charms his demure, unsuspecting photographer girlfriend, Joni, acutely performed by Sarah Chalfie, from backstage onto the stage, like a deer in the headlights, and proceeds to embarrass her, leaving her mortified and alone.
Imagine the life of a young lad who was never told that he was a good kid. “From the time [Edgar Chocoy] was born,” says immigration defense lawyer Kimberly Salinas (Emily Joy Weiner) in the documentary-theater piece De Novo, “he was seen as this poor kid from the slums of Guatemala City, then a gang kid from East L.A., then a criminal alien teenager in Immigration Court. I don’t think anyone ever got to see who he really was.” Salinas’s reflection makes clear that a seemingly trivial detail such as this can impose serious implications on a person’s self-esteem and that a life can sustain enormous consequences from it.
Aging is the lens through which Susan Miller’s 20th Century Blues explores the relationships of four women who have known one another for 40 years. The play focuses on the baby-boomer generation and zooms in on how they deal with themselves, their friendships and their social status.