cinemastage.com

2014 FringeNYC!

Remember Philip Seymour Hoffman....
2017!
"Nutcracker Rouge"
CINEMASTAGE_FringeBlogNYC2014
FRINGE NYC 2013 - So Far!
2013 Starting the Year (January) With a Few Good Promises
Current THEATER Reviews - for 2013
"MANIPULATION" at Cherry Lane
Fringe 2012
Fringe 2011 (NYC)
onStage with "HERE COMES THE CHANGE"
Some Things in 2008 Worth Remembering: First "Happy Days" at BAM, then The Scottish Tale
Prior to 2007
Past REVIEWS: "OPUS"; "WALMARTOPIA", "DIVIDING THE ESTATE"
Angelica Torn
New York Timers - Friel's "Freedom"

  Fringe NYC 2014!
REVIEW BLOG
SICK CITY BLUES - written and directed by Jake Shore - there's a good deal of back-n'-forth following of the details in what is likely a deliberate sort of "who was it" or "who done it" playwright's motif.  It gets in the way once in a while but this is still a good, intelligent playwright's effort.  Dirt follows dirt, one might add, with ample presence of "fuck' in the discourse.  In this 80 minute presentation, what you see is a bunch of wacky, crooked, criminal low life (sick?) characters setting up a whack job as a way of seeking further opportunity for themselves.  The whole exercise has has a slight film noir-ish feel to it as the clever and buzzing antics actually keep the audience involved. These hoods are trying to stop or blot out some organized crime types and there in lies the rub for the groundlings. Amid the psyho mayhem unfolding, we are watching parts of a puzzle fall into place.  This makes the piece rather interesting if not over ambitious. 'Nuff said. Let it suffice that the cast and direction are generally good, with notable application by actors Cara Monetto, Gavin Starr Kendall (an unctuous "Sal"), and Justin Colin.  (Presented at the Connelly Theatre 220 East 4th St.) - KEVIN MARTIN
 
 
WARM ENOUGH FOR SWIMMING - Disfunctionality acquires further recognition (a distinctly American cultural aspect) in "Warm Enough For Swimming", a very intelligent exercise by playwright Maggie Cino (directed by Fred Backus).  It is a very smart, west-coast-east-coast (California and a New Jersey beach town) sort of soap opera saga-melodrama that explores a truly nutty nut job of a family (I have met these types before; after all, I was born and raised in the USA. And yes, siblings from the very same family can easily grow up quite differently).  Generally, if the cast as an ensemble had had a little more of actors' concentration in their portrayal, and if the whole darn thing were better, more helpfully lit, the tone and execution of the story of the befuddled, newish, reluctant husband Eddie and his wayward, high strung sister Bridget  would have had to be more dramatic and more funny - at the same time. This production - in spite of its overall intelligence, seemed to drag as a consequence.  "W-E-F-S" centers around a mix of guilt and shame - and secret crime - both past and present - of the family "reunion" that takes place due to the death of Grandma (unseen but talked about; we do see her life-support apparatus standing still in the corner of the family's very messy living room that never gets tidied up; I was waiting, somehow, for that thing to say something so as to further energize the entire production. Alas, it said nothing). The direction languished a little, unfortunately. The acting throughout could have been sharper, more quickly paced, -  but Derrick Peterson as Alex, a trashy, petty kind of self-involved criminal who hots it out with girl friend Bridget, succeeds in breaking away from cliche-ness in the process. The whole noble effort, however, could have used a little more fine tuning. Even big, ambitious ideas need adjustment in order to run better.  (At the Sheen Center in the Black Box Space on Bleeker Street, between Elizabeth and Lafayette Streets) - KEVIN MARTIN
 
THE THREE FACES OF Dr. CRIPPEN - is a smart, unassuming romp of intelligent story-telling - as per the bloody, real death of Mrs. Crippen about 100 years back, - all bloodily chopped up and lodged in the basement of his home.  The "three faces" of the title character (all played suitably well by 3 actors: Stuart Ritter, Scott Cupper and Matt Holzfeind) refer to so-called public, private, and self-imagined personas of the same. This is a kind of Sherlock Holmes challenge of course - in finding how/why the murder took place. Running about 90 minutes, the story - or riddle - unfolds amid ocean cruises and other dramatic locales.  Did Crippen do the awful deed? Why? And, if so, "which" Crippen was the culprit?  Emily Schwartz has written a refreshing piece, and demonstrates a fine sense of darkish humor.  The overall pacing - with lighting, sound (great musicians!), and acting included - is led astutely by director Jimmy McDermott, and works smoothly from the very first opening musical moments all the way to its very (ahem!) execution. (Presented at the Connelly Theatre 220 East 4th St.) - KEVIN MARTIN
 
 
TWELFTH NIGHT  - the Bard's funny, racy send-up of gender identity and sexual role-play at the Loretto in the Sheen Center on Bleeker Street is presented as a neat, economically set effort adapted and directed by Tony Lance, that mainly succeeds (for the most part) in extracting fun-filled laughter and enjoyment from the audience. This piece came in just under 2 hours, but time did not drag. Worthy mention of appreciation for the lively commitment to Shakespeare's words ("the play's the thing") go to actors Matt Renskers (a fresh as fresh can be Malvolio), Lauren Wiley (an exquisite, affected Olivia), M. Rowan Myer (a thoroughly apt Sir Andrew Aguecheek), as well as Kate Lydic and James Soller (as the finely mixed-up twins, Viola and Sebastian). On the whole, the ensemble acting was true from start to finish. The entire outing - done with minimal set pieces (thank God!), was well put and - actually, could and should have a longer, extended run. Play on!             - KEVIN MARTIN
 
 
 A THOUSAND DEATHS - Jack London had a short life, used up well before later years could have him.  He was an anti-establishment individual, unsettled of heart and soul, caught up in prejudices social and racial, but otherwise not without great insight and sensitivity toward life and living.  This was the mix that made his appeal so lasting, why people still read him - and yes, also continue to learn a little bit more about man and nature in the exercise. London's curiosity took him into the science fictional world, and thus the presentation of London's 'A Thousand Deaths" at Venue # 1 (64 East 4th Street) offers an astute understanding of the eccentric, lively, - almost scary imagination of this uniquely American thinker and writer.  In this, Anthony Pennino as playwright-adapter and director takes on a mini-Herculean challenge as he skillfully sets up this story of the quest for a cure for death (go figure).  This search materializes in the form of characters located in the Asian-Phillipine region of the late 19th century (at the moment of the very short Spanish-American War, one of the U.S.A.'s more successful imperial routs). Henry, a navy sailor americanus (played nicely by Blake Merriman) is actually "dead" when he appears at the hands of Joshua the "scientist" (good acting by Sean Hoagland), who manages - in the interest of medical research?? - to repeatedly revive, then expire - or re-kill poor Henry as part of this particular pursuit of science. The rest here is better left unsaid, save to say that the Irish character O'Brien (the musically talented Peter Collier) factors importantly into the story. This is definitely worth seeing. The rest is silence. - KEVIN MARTIN
 
 
DONT'T PANIC: IT'S ONLY FINNEGAN'S WAKE!
I once - at a wee young age, read Joyce's "Ulysses" in fits and starts - and am now feeling inspired to going back to it - and to re-read Finnegan's Wake, too, - and soon, I hope. In the interim, we have a Joycian thing such as "Don't Panic, etc", at Venue #12, 64 East 4th Street, based on Joyce's last work, "Finnegan's Wake".  "Co-written" by actor Adam Harvey and James Joyce, and staged and acted by Harvey, "Don't Panic" is an example of arduous love making and appreciation of Joyce the Genius's literary powers. This 90-minute one-man venture succeeds, though it's not really a "play" (conventional plot, actions, character development, conflict resolution).  It's more of a lecture - albeit enthusiastic, celebratory, wondrous.  And brilliant, too. The actor/presenter/narrator Harvey is commendable for bringing Joyce's words of magical weaving to the fore, and making it a memorable visit for the audience.  Speaking of memorable, this guy's (Harvey) memory is sharper than Buck Mulligan's razor, with flashes of lightning, too. Look up "Finnegan's Wake" and see if YOU are able memorize and recite a few of those ultra-Joycian passages! - KEVIN MARTIN
 

INTERIOR: PANIC - at Teatro LATEA at the Clemente - written by Tennessee Williams and directed by Emily Lyon, is an early, artful, and thought-provoking preview of Tennessee Williams's later penned great labor of love and agony, "A Streetcar Named Desire", - and succeeds nicely enough for its own prescient value.  It also sets a reminder to the re-writing needs of responsible artists (e.g., Williams) to finely hone their poetic ideas and emotional tasks for turning a worthy vision into a work of extraordinary feeling.  "Interior: Panic" takes the early version of "Streetcar" characterizations and shows us the playwright's commitment to real art. Art disturbs, and rightly so. As acted/presented onstage by the Hedgepig Ensemble (as opposed to Hedgehog) we witness a fairly effective close-up look into the lives of this New Orleans (eventually) dysfunctional marriage between Andrew Hutchison's "Jack" (later the Stanley of "Streetcar fame) and Gwendolyn Kelso's Blanche. This is a good one-act-length play - pointing us toward the painful journey - already underway - for this badly crest-fallen, sorrowful, promiscuous but extremely fragile soul, from whose own travel she will find no sanctuary in her sister Grace's ("Hey, Stella"!) world. Grace is well expressed in the able hands of Mary Candler.  "Interior: Panic" , under the helpful guidance of the director moves well - with just enough pain for us vulnerable mortals to be reminded that, yes, the kindness of strangers is still very important to everyone alive. - KEVIN MARTIN

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