Married With Children

'Tis the season for family love and family strife, and the Gallery Players capture both in their winning production of Christopher Durang's classic play The Marriage of Bette & Boo. The most autobiographical of Durang's works, Bette & Boo twists and skewers the trappings of marriage, children, and domesticity, yet somehow still manages to exult in them. Sweet, childlike Bette wants nothing more than to have babies, and lots of them. After her first son, Matt, is born, however, she and Boo discover that her RH-negative blood will endanger the lives of any future children. Undeterred, Bette presses on even as Boo plunges into alcoholism and Matt withdraws further into himself. She has four more babies, all of whom die at birth.

As the play leaps back and forth over 30 years between 1940 and 1970, Matt revisits his parents' lives in an attempt to piece together his own history. Told in "33 short scenes," the play works as a scrapbook of his childhood. With each glimpse, we discover a new piece of the puzzle, and how or why or even where it might fit into the larger picture becomes a challenge for the audience as well.

In the beginning, Bette and Boo marry in an idealistic haze of wedded bliss, but the dysfunction of their families immediately portends a less than happy ending. On Bette's side, her domineering mother, Margaret, overbalances her father, Paul, who can do little more than stammer unintelligibly. Boo's father, Karl, on the other hand, talks incessantly. He is also a mean drunk, slurring his words as he constantly tosses toxic jabs at Boo's mother, Soot, who only giggles hysterically in response. Bette's sisters have problems as well: Joan is cruelly sarcastic and perpetually pregnant, while Emily is immensely self-critical, and her delicate nerves take her in and out of mental hospitals as well as a convent.

Durang's brilliance lies in his ability to be simultaneously cruel and bitter, and tender and hopeful. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners become dangerous domestic battlefields, but a final moment between Bette and Boo rings with poignancy.

Director Heather Siobhan Curran locates the essence of Durang's potent blend of tragedy and comedy, coaching fine performances from her cast. At times the pacing becomes erratic, however, and absurd gestures that might be further extended feel rushed. The mothers, in particular, would be better played more over the top, because the high absurdity of their personalities only balances and adds to the very realistic pathos of Bette's situation.

Erin Kate Howard's Bette is the heart of this production, and she deftly captures the character's sweetness, determination, grit, and fragility. "I love cute things," she explains to her friend Bonnie in a late-night phone call. This is a shining moment for Howard, who reveals Bette's desperation as she attempts to reach out to someone

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Deconstructing Monroe

Making Marilyn aspires to grand heights. Ken Cameron's play focuses on the legendary Monroe, adding into the mix a few obvious factoids about her troubled life, such as her addiction to pills and alcohol and her dependency on men. The result is a bizarre psychodrama, but one that benefits greatly from the seductive star power of Ashlie Atkinson. As the title character, Atkinson takes a disjointed, mediocre play and turns it into a captivating tour de force. The year is 1953, and Marilyn has come to the small town of Banff, Canada, to shoot her new film, The River of No Return. While filming the movie, the lonely star encounters a young teenager named Scout (Patrick Costello), who lives in a rundown house with his mother, also played by the beguiling Atkinson. The mother spends her days drinking and her evenings waiting for a husband who will never return. Her nights are spent entertaining the men of Banff. Although she tries to provide a stable environment for Scout, her inability to accept reality, coupled with her drinking and prostitution, creates a corrupted home life that the troubled youth longs to escape.

When Marilyn comes to town, Scout's dreams of a different life begin to take form. Their chance encounter blossoms into a tender friendship that eventually evolves into an intense sexual relationship, the ramifications of which prove tragic for both. Flash-forward to 1962, shortly after Marilyn's death, and Scout is speeding down a California highway. When an overzealous policeman (Robin Mervin) pulls him over, Scout's history with Marilyn, and his mental stability, begins to unravel in disturbing detail.

Cameron has intriguing ideas brimming with promise, but they ultimately fizzle in the execution. His depiction of Monroe as a boozy, pill-popping prostitute is particularly troublesome and narrow. The constant time jumping among three decades proves confusing and ultimately hampers the story. A sense of vagueness prevails throughout, with reality and fiction blurring to the point of distraction.

Robin A. Paterson's direction effectively creates a nostalgic aura that evokes a 50's movie. His use of movable screens to denote time and scene changes helps move the story forward and alleviates the confusion created by Cameron's script. Paterson also guides his cast of five to engaging and lively performances.

As Scout's tough-talking, whiskey-swilling mother, Atkinson is all swagger and attitude. Her Marilyn, meanwhile, charms and delights, making the play come alive with each movement and word. In an astounding marriage of technique and natural talent, Atkinson seamlessly transforms herself from one character to the next and back, often within seconds. She modulates her voice, lowering the register for Scout's mother and raising it to bring Marilyn's breathy whisper to vivid life. But Atkinson's most accomplished feat is her ability to physically transform herself; her entire body changes so convincingly, it is like watching two completely different actresses at work.

Patrick Costello initially impresses as the troubled Scout. He convincingly plays the character's many torments, and his flirtatious moments with Atkinson are appropriately awkward and touching. But his portrayal is so overly nuanced that its shine eventually turns into a glare: his attempts at depth give way to a series of predictable psychotic ticks and manic ramblings that detract from the story and ultimately appear false. In the end, it seems more like a bag of tricks, unlike Atkinson's organic performance.

Robin Mervin scores laughs as the self-important cop. He takes an incidental role and finds comedy in the banal, turning in a hilarious performance. Devin Scott and Reyna De Courcy lend credible support in a series of minor roles.

While Making Marilyn ultimately buckles under the pressure of its weak narrative, the Bridge Theater Company's production thrives thanks to the exceptional Ashlie Atkinson's considerable gifts. Ultimately, Cameron's new play makes for an intriguing, if laborious, night of entertainment.

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Radio Days

Before television, radio served as the living room theater of the times. Listeners would tune in to follow their favorite characters in serials that boasted drama, suspense, and romance, as well as sound effects (supplied by foley artists) so they could visualize the action. Now, that simple idea has been turned around by putting the living room in the theater, as in the onstage radio productions of Radio Theater. Its current show, King Kong, is running through the end of December at the Kraine Theater, which makes for a timely tie-in with Peter Jackson's new remake of the 1933 film. As in the movie, nature filmmaker Carl Denham has learned of a place called Skull Island that's packed with fantastic beasts, and decides to make his next picture there. But when he has trouble finding a female lead willing to make a sea voyage with his rough and tumble all-male crew, he scours Manhattan for a fresh face. He soon meets the down-and-out starlet Ann Darrow, who's grateful for a place to sleep and somewhere to eat. The sailors are wary of Ann at first, but eventually grow fond of her�especially Jack Driscoll, who professes his love, which Ann returns in kind. Upon arriving at Skull Island, they learn of the dreaded Kong, and Carl becomes obsessed with putting him in the movie. But his fixation has disastrous results.

The story of a gigantic ape, the man who wants him, and the woman whom Kong wants is not entirely suited to the radio format. There are battles between huge prehistoric beasts and the destruction of much of Manhattan by Kong, both of which can't be depicted by prerecorded sound alone. Adapter Dan Bianchi has added a narrator to advance the plot, which was a normal practice in these types of broadcasts. But between Collin Biddle's tentative vocal performance and the overwritten, half-baked lines he's made to say, the narration actually slowed down the proceedings rather than expedited them.

Though the concept would lead you to believe that this is supposed to be the re-creation of a sound booth where performers acted out their roles and then waited for cues (like AMC's TV show Remember WENN), the staging instead employs awkward entrances and exits and blackouts at the end of scenes. Since these actors aren't changing costumes and the show's not too long, why not keep them onstage? If the director was looking for a bit of visual flair, he could've employed a foley artist to come up with inventive, elaborate ways to provide sound cues, rather than the two sullen characters hidden behind a host of machinery.

The production does have some good things going for it. John Nolan's mellifluous voice is criminally underutilized in the small roles of the host and Captain Englehorn. His "day job" is radio announcing; why not employ him as the narrator? Donna Heffernan plays Ann as a husky-toned angel of the streets, but she also has fun with a few celebrity impersonations at Kong's New York City coming-out party.

Still, it's not enough to make up for the slow pacing of what should be an exciting and fun event. Upon exiting, one young audience member said, "[The postcard] said, 'King Kong live onstage,' but you didn't see him!" Maybe a more imaginative production would have allowed him to.

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A Violent Life

Pier Paolo Pasolini, little known in America, is probably Italy's most important postwar intellectual. One reason for his relative obscurity in the States is his use of so many different mediums of expression and his lack of a central, easily digestible idea. He is a welter of contradictions: a lifelong Communist who sported expensive suits and an Alfa Romeo; a cosmopolitan who championed a peasant dialect; a poet and a filmmaker; awarded prizes by the Catholic Church and arrested as a vile pornographer. Pasolini was always a provocateur and an iconoclast, caught between purity and puerility, scatology and eschatology. Openly flaunting his homosexuality, he confronted the fascistic morality of his time with an unflinching realism about the tragic perversions of life that pervaded the lurid Roman alleyways: hustlers and prostitutes, backstabbings and secret deals. Pasolini mired himself in that imbroglio of political and sexual intrigue, and suffered as a result.

The Life and Death of Pier Paolo Pasolini presents this complicated figure through interlaced biographical vignettes, the dates and locales of which are projected onto the backdrop. We watch Pasolini plead his case in several court appearances, overhear his t

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A Good Buzz

A great deal of art intended for children is best left unexamined by adult sensibilities, as anyone who's watched a self-appointed guardian of moral or social conscience disappear down such a slippery slope knows. (Exhibit A: Jerry Falwell looking deep into the sexual agenda of the Teletubbies.) Still, it's hard to resist scratching beneath the surface of the puppet show The Adventures of Maya the Bee, now entering its sixth season at the Culture Project. The central conceit is something every kid can relate to: shirking your chores to play in the wonderful world around you. The unusually inquisitive (for a worker bee) Maya is born into the hive at the show's opening, quickly decides that collecting pollen doesn't scratch her traveler's itch, and flexes her wings in search of points unknown. Over the course of her three-day jaunt, she comes face to face with various insects of both pond and meadow

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Deer Santa

The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, presented by the Dysfunctional Theater Company and Horse Trade Theater Group, is a deliciously wicked alternative for those who prefer edgier holiday entertainment. Playwright Jeff Goode's dark comedy portrays a North Pole community unlike any presented in traditional seasonal offerings, but which bears a striking resemblance to shadier visions of contemporary America. Alcohol abuse runs rampant, sexual orientation is a hot-button issue, and a sex scandal threatens the reputation of the highest-ranking official. Each of the eight famed sleigh-pulling reindeer presents one of the monologues, slowly revealing the rift developing in their elite team over the sordid tale that could ruin Santa Claus

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Everyone's favorite redheaded orphan has been recently reborn in a new production by the St. Jean's Players on the Upper East Side. The company's sterling version of Annie is absolutely charming and makes for a perfect holiday treat. Sometimes a commercial work of art gets so engrained in the popular consciousness that it becomes easy to take it for granted. This is true of a perennial like Annie; it would be easy to dismiss this well-known and frequently performed show, but it has such heart and such a talented cast that it demands respect.

As does its famous score, with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin, along with Thomas Meehan's book, adapted from the popular comic book. Young Erin Moriarty is superb in the title role, bringing both charm and pathos to numbers like "Maybe" and "Tomorrow," songs that are as challenging as they are catchy. It is hard not to imagine her treading the boards on Broadway in the near future.

Annie's plot hasn't changed much over the nearly three decades since the show first hit the stage. The lovable orphan gets taken in by billionaire Daddy Warbucks (Charles Mobbs) at Christmastime, only to encounter his previously undiscovered feelings, both paternal (for Annie) and romantic (for assistant Grace Farrell, played by sweet-voiced Jennifer Hoddinott). Miss Hannigan (Sharon O'Neal), who runs Annie's boarding house, throws a monkey wrench into the Warbucks clan's plans by getting into cahoots with her no-good brother Rooster (Dean Polites) and his dame, Lily St. Regis (Amanda Butcher).

Does all end well? Bet your bottom dollar it does. Yet Sharon Lowe directs this family production with such finesse that one is engaged throughout. O'Neal is perfect as the nasty Miss Hannigan, and she and Polites (who proves to be remarkably flexible in the "Easy Street" number) work off of each other quite well. Lowe's entire company proves to be nearly flawless, from Arthur Gruen as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, to Larry Hirshik as radio personality Bert Healy, to Bailey Mason as Star-to-Be; her melisma during her "N.Y.C." solo is another testament to the score's strength. Furthermore, the girls who play Annie's orphan friends present a phalanx of talent.

Lowe's leads also excel. Mobbs is wonderful as Warbucks, who goes from thinking with his wallet to thinking with his heart. As he plays against Moriarty, you can't imagine someone would not melt in her presence. And though occasionally drowned out by the orchestra, Hoddinott, who also worked on the costumes, makes for a perfectly righteous Grace.

Annie may be an evergreen, but with solid performances and well-crafted songs, Lowe keeps it fresh, finding the perfect marriage between comedy and sentiment. It's shows like this that bring cheer to the holiday season.

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Sins of the Father

Syphilis was to the 19th century what AIDS was to the 20th: a slowly debilitating disease that society

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Gay 90's

All men are created equal, but all theater is not. The quality of a show depends on the talent and budget on hand, which marks the difference between Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway shows. Then there are companies that choose to focus their energies on producing strong plays, playwrights, or performances. T. Schreiber Studio trains actors at all levels and produces full-length productions in order to give its students practice in developing a character through the rehearsal process and the show's run. This is not to say that the company doesn't put equal effort into its presentations' design elements; its main goal, however, is to allow the actor to do his or her work. T. Schreiber's current production of Love! Valour! Compassion! does just that.

Terrence McNally's brilliant piece on the changing landscape of gay life revolves around eight men who stay in the summer home of celebrated dancer/choreographer Gregory Mitchell over three holiday weekends in 1994. Fortysomething Gregory is in a four-year relationship with the 20-ish, visually impaired Bobby Brahms. "Old married couple" Arthur Pape and Perry Sellars are celebrating 14 years together. Failed British composer John Jeckyll has brought along his newest boy toy, dancer Ramon Fornos. And admitted musical theater queen Buzz Hauser is staying (and dealing with AIDS) alone. John's twin brother James, also in the advanced stages of AIDS, eventually comes over from England to join them.

John's lover, the hot-bodied, often nude Ramon, proceeds to throw the group's dynamic out of whack. He seduces Bobby, flirts with Arthur, and makes Gregory feel old. Sebastian LaCause (and his sculpted, tanned physique) fits the role's aesthetic requirements, but he is a little old to be believed as a cocky twentysomething.

Moreover, one would think a certain amount of animal magnetism is what draws people to Ramon. (Wouldn't it make sense that Bobby's attraction to him is based more on pheromones, since he can't see Ramon's ripped abs and Ramon is not very bright or personable?) But LaCause is a little too cool to play such a (supposedly) hot customer.

The rest of the cast delivers strong performances. Gary Cowling sparkles as Buzz, transcending the character's "tragic clown" surface to find shades of optimism and defeat. This is a person staring down death, and yet the audience is able to care about him without feeling buried by the gravity of his situation. John Lederer handles the potentially bland character of the affable, driven Gregory by lending him a quiet intensity that fills in what the author has left out.

Kenneth John McGregor, playing both the caustic John and the bubbly James, differentiates between the two through his voice and mannerisms, though they share a similar ennui. Peter Sloan and Terry Wynne have a natural chemistry between them as Perry, the cynical lawyer, and Arthur, the bleeding-heart accountant. Collin McGee plays Bobby as a na

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Ol' Man Robeson

The media's darling of the day is rapper 50 Cent, whose face is splayed across movie screens in the bio-pic Get Rich or Die Tryin'. The publicity poster encapsulates that tough trajectory with an image of the tattooed rapper, a baby in one arm and a gun in the back of his jeans. If we take our cultural cues from the media, that is the face of African-American ambition in 2005. Not too long ago there was another popular recording artist who showed, in quite different colors, how difficult and precious the rise to popular success can be for a black man in America. The New Federal Theater is mounting Phillip Hayes Dean's 1978 play with music, Paul Robeson, whose Broadway debut starred James Earl Jones. The son of a former slave turned an all-American athlete, Broadway star, lawyer, and global activist, Robeson remains one of the most stellar individuals of the 20th century.

New Federal is making its home at the Abron Arts Center, tucked just a few blocks under the Williamsburg Bridge on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Known as the breeding ground for some of the best black actors in America

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Soap Satire

The function of a satire is to exaggerate the inanity of "serious art." Good satire will make the audience laugh because they recognize the embellished source material and feel pride in doing so

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Entropy in Elysium

Time's arrow travels in one direction only; love's arrows dart in countless, unpredictable directions. Thus, in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia, the warm gymnastics of physical bodies become the foil for the cool geometry of bodies in physics. Stoppard's premise is that passion

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Instant Insight

Off the Leesh Productions's Help Me Help Myself: The New York Guide to Love, Fame, Fortune and Everything You've Ever Dreamt of in 30 Days or Less, despite its lengthy title, is a streamlined piece of theater that nonetheless delivers more laughs than many shows twice its length. The 75-minute play is an ironic, comic odyssey through the intersecting lives of one very Zen New Yorker and four neurotic ones. Claire (the endearingly wry Marina Kotovnikov) is a struggling writer, frustrated at how her blissful childhood has hindered her ability to "contribute to the general malaise that is afflicting [her] generation." Claire meets Becky, a self-help-obsessed actress played with appealing sincerity by Julie Tortorici, who touts the program set forth in her favorite Oprah Winfrey-endorsed book, Help Me Help Myself. The two characters play off each other's contrasting personalities to delightful comic effect as Becky tries to convince Claire to join her on the road to self-actualization.

In Claire's efforts to find her own copy of the book

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Olsens: The Musical!

The highbrow tradition of the theater and the lowbrow phenomenon of celebrity culture seldom go hand in hand. Usually, the only times the two worlds converge is when a Hollywood A- or B-lister decides he or she needs to be taken "seriously" as an actor by performing in something with no loud explosions, and preferably by Shakespeare. Occasionally, though, these two areas do come together on a decidedly less erudite mission, and the results of this unorthodox partnership can currently be seen at Don't Tell Mama. The Misadventures of the Wholesome Twins, running through Dec. 19, is a musical parody based on the travails of America's favorite twins, the Olsens

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Recently on National Public Radio, artists, musicians, and scholars talked about the enduring effects of Moby-Dick on American culture. Playwright Tony Kushner (Angels in America) cited the novel's expansiveness as an influence on his work

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Cyrano Out West

Like attracts like. Or something like. Despite the best efforts of sociologists to pin down the hows and whys of human attraction, there are always, always, exceptions to the rule. In Cowboy v. Samurai, Michael Golamco's freshly acute (and hilarious) reinvention of the classic Cyrano de Bergerac story, characters negotiate the sketchy terrain of romantic attraction as they wrestle with expectations, reservations, pride, and prejudice. The National Asian American Theater Company has produced a superb incarnation of Golamco's script. Welcome to Breakneck, Wyo., where out of 1,000 inhabitants, only two are Asian: our Cyrano, Travis (Jose de la Fuente), a high school English teacher who escaped from Los Angeles after a disastrous relationship, and Chester (C.S. Lee), the assistant manager at Taco Tuesday, the only ethnic restaurant in town. (The irony isn't lost on him.) The militant Chester also leads the Breakneck Asian Alliance (population of two), but everything changes when Veronica (Hana Moon), a beautiful Korean woman from Flushing, Queens, arrives to teach biology at the high school.

Travis and Veronica strike up a fast friendship, swapping stories about their families and lamenting the lack of tofu at the local grocery store. As the conversation shifts to past relationships, however, Travis is offended when it becomes apparent that Veronica, as a rule, does not date Asian men. "Race has nothing to do with attraction," Travis argues, but it is clear that, at least for Veronica, race figures predominantly into the equation.

Although he is falling for Veronica, Travis knows better than to pursue her; instead, he decides to help his friend Del (Timothy Davis) win her over. Del is a lovable, dimwitted hunk of a cowboy who teaches phys ed at the high school. While he is also smitten with Veronica, Del is threatened by her intellect and enlists Travis to write letters to her on his behalf.

Travis's letters are poignant, clever, humorous, and wise, and, at least from our perspective, they could not possibly be written by Del, who uses "dumb" as a noun. But Veronica, after ascertaining that Del's sock drawer contains no Asian porn, happily launches into a relationship with her Wyoming cowboy. When things begin to turn sour, however, she turns to Travis for comfort. The secret of Travis's masquerade inevitably leaks out, and he must face his fears and restraints, while Veronica must account for, as Travis calls them, her "preferences."

Under Lloyd Suh's polished direction, the cast delivers crystal-clear performances. At the show's center, de la Fuente gives a graceful arc to his performance, effectively evoking the complexity of Travis's friendship with Del and the angst of his growing affection for Veronica. Moon makes a lovely Veronica, and she puts aside her sarcastic exterior to find something more delicate in a late-night confrontation with Chester. Thankfully, Davis moves beyond the stereotype of the hick cowboy; instead, his Del is an intriguing portrayal of a sheltered local boy forced to expand his perspective.

With expert comic delivery and impeccable physicality, Lee all but steals the show as Chester. An Asian man of indeterminate heritage (his adoptive parents never took the trouble to find out where he was born), Chester grew up in Wyoming as a self-described "island of yellow in a sea of white." Without any definite lineage to draw from, he adopts aspects of Asian culture to create his own Asian-ness, as it were. Chester worships Bruce Lee (the "Gospel of Bruce"), dresses as a ninja (complete with grappling hook), and criticizes Veronica for "playing a piano without any sharps or flats" (dating only white guys).

While it contributes to the show's humor, Chester's insatiable desire for racial definition also stirs up pathos. He wrestles with isolation and rage, and his aforementioned confrontation with Veronica exposes the self-hatred that paralyzes them both.

The show's design is strong overall, but Stephen Petrilli's lighting is a standout. As Del reads from his (actually Travis's) letters, he is bathed in a spotlight; Travis sits at his desk in the background, where only subtle streaks of light touch his face. Late in the show, Travis says, "When you write something down, you become the words." In this expert bit of staging, he sits out of the light

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For the Love of God

To update one of the best-known stories from the Bible is to run the risk of alienating all sorts of groups: strict constructionists who feel these stories need no adaptation; audience members looking for something fresh to watch rather than stories they have already read in Sunday school; and those who prefer their theater fare on the lighter side, not weighed down by allegory. That Working Man's Clothes's production of Bekah Brunstetter's To Nineveh is an accessible, let alone engaging, work is a miracle worthy of the play's source material. Nineveh is a modern-day amalgam of several Old Testament stories, and while the character names include Delilah and Jonah, the crux of the plot focuses on the plight of Isaac (Roy Miller), a successful lawyer, and Rebekah (Ellen David), his Sunday school teacher wife. Isaac favors his hotheaded son Esau (Jared Culverhouse), who has followed in his career footsteps, while Rebekah is loyal to the more sensitive Jacob (Paul Fears), a music student and a closeted homosexual who has just taken up with his professor, Jonah (David Carr-Berry).

There is one other integral relationship

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Swiping Sizes

"Do not go gentle into that good night. Go thin." Flirting with metaphors, chewing up euphemisms, tongue set firmly in cheek, Margaux Laskey pulls out all the stops in size ate, a one-woman show that is part confessional, part stand-up comedy, part musical, and, unfortunately, part confusion. Born to a professional linebacker father who was rewarded for one type of body (big and strong) and a model-like mother who was rewarded for another (petite and demure), Laskey grew up with conflicting messages about her body. She has been every imaginable size, she tells us, and she has the history of diets, anorexia, and emotional baggage to prove it.

As her sweetly cheeky title suggests, Laskey wants to combat the fiction of "perfect" size in our culture. Set designer Julie Walker has wisely provided Laskey with nine mannequin torsos (labeled in even-numbered sizes from 0 to 16), which, under Steven McElroy's direction, strongly illustrate Laskey's rhetoric. Laskey lugs the mannequins into various configurations

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Slaves to Image

The Maids was Jean Genet's first major text that did not have explicit homoerotic themes. Jean-Paul Sartre, however, claimed that Genet told him that the two maids should be played by men; Genet later denied he said this. The play's initial production met with mixed reviews. In 1965, the Living Theater, under the direction of Julian Beck, staged an unauthorized production with an all-male cast. Genet tried to close it down. In most subsequent and successful productions, though, men have performed the roles. So staged, the play becomes an enactment of simulacra dissolving into the very things they represent, even as the things they represent dissolve from reality altogether. Master and servant, image and beauty, truth and appearance

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Devil's Due

At first, the concept for Out, Out Damned Clock: Faust Meets Macbeth! seems a thought-provoking one. Faust and Macbeth, two of literature's most well-known characters, are so alike in their ambition and hubris that they could be brothers. The parallel may be easy to identify, but it's much more difficult to dramatize adeptly. In trying to do so, Footlight Players' production falls disappointingly short. As playwright and director Nathaniel Green writes, "The Faust theme is one of the most borrowed in world literature." Even a list of only the tale's most familiar incarnations must be abbreviated: Christopher Marlowe's Dr. Faustus, Goethe's Faust, Arrigo Boito's 1868 opera Mefistofele, Damn Yankees. Such a pedigree is difficult to live up to

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