A new play about President Donald J. Trump is scheduled for Theater 511 (511 W. 54th St.) beginning April 27 and running through May 19. Transparent Falsehood: An American Travesty stars Ezra Barnes as Trump. Written by Gil Kofman and directed by Richard Caliban, the play is a satire on the current resident of the Oval Office. Others in the cast are Wyatt Fenner as Barron/Jared, Stephanie Fredricks as Melania, Chuck Montgomery as Steve Bannon, and Latonia Phipps as Ivanka. The language is advertised as “consistent with its subject.” Performances are at 7 p.m. Tuesdays and 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. For tickets and information, visit transparentfalsehood.com.
The Metromaniacs is an adaptation of an obscure play from 1738 called La Métromanie, written by Alexis Piron—a poet who failed to make it in to the acclaimed Académie Française due to the lewd content of some of his writing. The production by the Red Bull Theater Company, however, is credited primarily to David Ives, who writes in the program note: “The Metromaniacs is a comedy with five plots, none of them important.” That sums up the one hour-and-45-minute farce and is also what makes the play so delightful. It is a classic comedy of mistaken identity, love at first sight, and, well, absolute fluff.
In 1940 British critic James Agate said of John Gielgud’s King Lear: “I do not feel that this Lear’s rages go beyond extreme petulance—they do not frighten me!” No such reservation afflicts Gregory Doran’s intelligent and well-spoken Royal Shakespeare Company production, which stars Antony Sher as the king—the Shakespearean role that Sher, who last year played Falstaff at BAM, says will be his last.
Lindsey Ferrentino’s This Flat Earth joins other recent plays in tackling a hot-button issue: Admissions at Lincoln Center examined affirmative action, and Miss You Like Hell at the Public is entwined with the deportation of illegal aliens, or undocumented immigrants, depending on one’s political leaning. Ferrentino’s chosen subject is gun violence in schools.
The reputation of Kurt Vonnegut nowadays rest on his comic novels—a mainstay of 1960s counterculture. He combined flights of hilarious whimsy with science fiction and sharp satire in works such as Cat’s Cradle (1963), God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1965) and Slaughterhouse-Five (1969). But at the height of his powers, Vonnegut also wrote a Broadway play, Happy Birthday, Wanda June. The play may not be a masterpiece, but the production by the Wheelhouse Theater Company under director Jeff Wise breathes screwball life into it with strong performances and unabashed theatricality.
A 16-year-old prep school student takes a train to New York City, spends some time in a bar, encounters odd sexual shenanigans in a hotel room, and struggles with an assortment of inner conflicts. In 1951, J. D. Salinger turned this scenario into gold with The Catcher in the Rye. But, in the TUTA Theater Company’s abstract and lumbering production of a 2011 play by Adam Rapp, these same elements hold little value. With extensive doses of narration broken only by a few unexplainable affronts of noise and light, The Edge of Our Bodies shares a border with the limits of our patience.
Stephen Schwartz’s Wicked has played somewhere around 6,020 performances and counting, and last week the show cleared $2.7 million. The newly opened Frozen, despite some dreadful reviews, was at 99.9% capacity. And both musicals—Wicked since its 2003 opening, Frozen via the 2013 Disney animated smash that inspired it—are cultural phenomena, especially among musical-loving teenage girls who respond to the heroines’ frustrations, bonding with other young women (a sister, in Frozen’s case), and their eventual triumph over adversity. Both shows have earworm empowerment anthems that have saturated social media since their premieres, Wicked’s “Defying Gravity” and Frozen’s “Let It Go.” And both would seem ripe for spoofing, of the Forbidden Broadway sort. Who, except possibly their most die-hard fans, wouldn’t want to have a little fun at these monoliths’ expense?
Dr. John Fryer, a seminal but little-known LGBT civil rights pioneer, is the subject of a the play 217 Boxes of Dr. Henry Anonymous, by Ain Gordon, to be presented May 3-9 at the Jerome Robbins Theater at the Baryshnikov Arts Center (450 West 37th St.). Gordon, an Obie award winner, will also direct.
Before 1972, homosexuality was considered a mental illness in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). The classification was used by government to justify statutes and regulations that marginalized homosexuals. Fryer gave testimony at the 1972 APA annual meeting that led to homosexuality’s removal from the DSM.
Originally commissioned by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and underwritten by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, the production is presented by Equality Forum, a national and international LGBT civil rights organization. For tickets ($40) and more information on Fryer, visit 217Boxes.com, or call Ovationtix at (866) 811-4111. All performances are at 7:30 p.m. and run for 70 minutes.
Hook & Eye Theater will present the world premiere of She-She-She, a new devised play written by Cynthia Babak, from May 19-June 2 at the Mark O'Donnell Theater at the Actors Fund Arts Center (160 Schermerhorn St., in Brooklyn).
She-She-She is inspired by the friendship between Eleanor Roosevelt and leading black activist Pauli Murray. In the 1930s, Roosevelt championed the “She She She” camps as a New Deal program tailored for women, housed in America’s national parks. Unemployed women from across the country, including Murray, moved away from their homes to gain hospitality and forestry training at the camps from 1933 to 1937.
She-She-She marks Hook & Eye Theater’s fourth devised work. Founded in 2010 by co-artistic directors Carrie Heitman and Chad Lindsey, the Brooklyn-based ensemble creates works using history, myth and science.
Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. May 18–21, 23–25, and May 30–June 2; there are 2 p.m. matinees on May 20 and June 1. Tickets are $25 ($15 students and seniors) and may be purchased by visiting hookandeyetheater.com. For more information, call (347) 927-6475.
In 1956, New York Times critic Brooks Atkinson described a new play by Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot, as “a mystery wrapped in an enigma.” That Churchillian phrase captures the Godot-like inscrutability of No One Writes to the Colonel (El coronel no tien quien le escriba), an early novella by Nobel laureate Gabriel Gárcia Márquez (1927–2014).
Sara Farrington’s Leisure, Labor, Lust has interesting subject matter—the intersection of class divisions and sexual orientation in the early 20th century—that is rarely explored in American theater. As a subject, the intertwining of sexual desire across class lines underlay The Judas Kiss, David Hare’s 1998 play about Oscar Wilde, but unfortunately Farrington brings little new to the table except the persons on whom she has modeled her characters.
Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story, a new musical by Hannah Moscovitch and Ben Caplan from Canada’s 2b Theatre Company, is the story of two Jewish refugees fleeing Romania in 1908. Chaim and Chaya Moscovitch meet in an immigration holding facility in Halifax, Canada. Chaim is 19, hardworking, gentle, and eager to start anew—his entire family has been killed in a pogrom. He is also ready to fall in love. Chaya is 24, practical and hard-nosed. She lost the husband of her youth, Yochai, to typhus and, soon after, their child as well.
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.
It’s a truism that William Shakespeare’s tragicomedy The Winter’s Tale divides into two distinct parts. In the first, Leontes, king of Sicilia, suspects his queen, Hermione, of adultery with his friend Polixenes, king of Bohemia, who has been spending a long sojourn with them but who is leaving for his home country immediately. The biggest hurdle for actors playing Leontes is to make his sudden jealousy credible. “The part is one of the hardest ever written,” Margaret Webster noted in Shakespeare Without Tears: “with almost no preparation, the emotion of it is at flood height.”
When Lee Blessing’s A Walk in the Woods opened in 1988 at the Lucille Lortel Theater and then moved to Broadway, Ronald Reagan was President and the Soviet Union had not yet collapsed. Blessing’s two-character play about a Russian and an American diplomat discussing arms reduction in a series of meetings in Geneva was fresh and timely—and splendidly acted by Sam Waterston and Robert Prosky.
Babette’s Feast, based on a short story by Danish writer Isak Dinesen, centers not on the namesake of the title, but instead on two sisters: Philippa (Juliana Francis Kelly) and Martine (Abigail Killeen, who conceived and developed the show), the daughters of a rector (Sturgis Warner) who heads an ascetic Protestant sect. In Berlevåg, a small town on the coast, their lives are is pretty ho-hum, except for a few spats between congregants, until Babette (the earthy and grounded Michelle Hurst) arrives. She is an exile who has escaped the Paris Commune of 1870, an uprising she took part in, and has made her way to where the sisters live, on the recommendation of an opera singer who once, long ago, passed through the town.
Abby Rosebrock is a different kind of triple threat. As a playwright, she brings an invigorating new voice to the stage with the debut of her comedy-drama Dido of Idaho, at the Ensemble Studio Theatre. As an actor in her own play, portraying a former beauty pageant contestant in crisis, her comic timing is precise. And as a practitioner of stage combat, “threat” is too gentle a word for her character who, when faced with a challenge to her domestic security, brandishes a razor-sharp pair of cuticle scissors.
The triple bill of one-acts at the Irish Repertory Theatre is a rare chance to see plays by Lady Gregory, William Butler Yeats and John Millington Synge, although in small-space productions downstairs at the invaluable venue. One may not feel that the first two plays, The Pot of Broth and The Rising of the Moon, should occupy the umbrella title of Three Small Irish Masterpieces alongside Synge’s Riders to the Sea, which fits the bill; the first two seem slight by comparison. But they make a pleasant enough evening of unfamiliar entertainment, enhanced by the proximity to St. Patrick’s Day.
Is middle age too late for an earth-moving romance between a Bostonian with Brahmin reserve and a Midwesterner for whom grand passion is essential? In Later Life, the 1993 hit comedy revived by the Keen Company, playwright A.R. Gurney dramatizes this question with characteristic wit and capacious heart. Gurney, who grew up affluent in Buffalo, N.Y., carved a niche for himself Off-Broadway with a handful of urbane comedies—notably The Dining Room and The Cocktail Hour—whose characters have origins similar to his own. When Gurney died last June at age 86, he left a legacy of 49 plays, plus operas, musicals, and novels.
Forming a theater company is a bold move; ending a successful one is even bolder. A hat tip, then, to Scott Alan Evans, a founding member of TACT (The Actors Company Theatre) who, over the past quarter century, has produced and/or directed more than 150 productions for the company. Having declared the troupe’s artistic mission accomplished, Evans takes a final bow with an uneven production of a new work, Three Wise Guys, which he not only directs, but also co-wrote, with screenwriter and occasional lyricist Jeffrey Couchman.