The Seafarer, Irish Repertory Theatre

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by guest critic Steven Strauss

The Seafarer, Conor McPherson’s Olivier Award-nominated play that premiered at the National Theatre in 2006, imagines the plight of humanity as that of lonely sailors lost at sea, teetering on the safe, dry deck of morality above treacherously immoral waters. No matter how far you roam, the Devil that is your sins of the past can always find you. Walking on water isn’t a foreign concept to celestial entities. A reckoning will come, and spiritual debts must be paid.  

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We Live By the Sea, 59E59

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by guest critic Steven Strauss

Even in the current march towards greater representation across the arts for all marginalized communities, people with learning disabilities too often find themselves on the outside always looking in, literally. Though their stories have graced stages and screens throughout the years, they’re often performed by actors not personally afflicted with the depicted disabilities.

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Disco Pigs, Irish Rep

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by guest critic Steven Strauss

So there used to be this movie theater in New York City that always made me laugh by insisting on including subtitles over movies IN ENGLISH, albeit those with heavy accents. Let’s just say that this multiplex’s average clientele was of a certain age, and their diminished hearing required some help in understanding strong dialects of any kind from every corner of the world.

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Interview | ‘All roads lead to Tim Webb’: Peg Schuler-Armstrong on working with Oily Cart

by guest writer Steven Strauss

New York’s Lincoln Center invited UK-based Oily Cart to be one of three theatres from outside the US to perform at the Big Umbrella Festival, the first of its kind dedicated to such audiences.

In addition to Oily Cart’s Light Show, the one-month festival includes other one-off events, symposiums, and professional development opportunities for artists, arts professionals, presenters, and audience members interested in expanding the theatrical spotlight on this shamefully under-served community.

Simply put, major theatres around the world should really be funding such festivals all the time. To find out more about the process of bringing the Big Umbrella Festival to life, we interviewed Peg Schuler-Armstrong, the Director of Programming and Production for Lincoln Center Education, the organizers of the festival.

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Feature | Addiction and the Audience in People, Places & Things

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by guest critic Steven Strauss

Heaps of deserved praise has been showered on Jeremy Herrin’s production of Duncan Macmillan’s People, Places & Things, with much directed at Denise Gough’s thrillingly committed performance of a struggling actor in rehab. Yet after seeing it at Wyndham’s Theatre in mid-2016 then its New York City run this year, it’s easy to see there’s more to it than Gough. A second, transatlantic viewing proves just how thoroughly the production theatricalises addicts’ experiences in order to generate audience empathy with the struggle to overcome addiction.

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Ordinary Days, Drayton Arms Theatre

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by guest critic Gregory Forrest

A single piano backs this tongue-in- cheek trip into the lives of four ordinary New Yorkers living out ordinary days. In just 75 minutes we traverse heartbreaks, five-year plans, and the elaborate traffic network which swirls around the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A distinctly American musical about Central Park, Broadway, and groceries from Gristedes, Ordinary Days doesn’t shake up the twenty-first century, but this is certainly a solid production.

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The Toxic Avenger, Arts Theatre

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I’ve seen sexist theatre. I’ve seen ableist theatre. But it’s rare to come across a show that is so openly and unashamedly both of these things.

Even more frustrating, these aspects of the story are heightened and played for laughs. There’s no commentary or condemnation, just the worst parts of cult movies rolled into one superhero story reliant on anti-women stereotypes. The performances are excellent and there are some great tunes, but the overtly offensive storyline overwhelms any of the production’s positive aspects.

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