Remembering the 2008 season at BAM
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"

Daisy

Review: More BAM gems as offered up in MACBETH.
BLOODY INSTRUCTION
MACBETH - now showing at BAM, opens strongly with 3 Emergency Room nurses (aka the three witches) nursing a bloodily injured, battle worn combatant whilst he moans broadly at impending doom. Macbeth, a general in the army of King Duncan and accompanied with military colleague Banquo at his side, soon enters upon the witches' turf who bluntly forecast his impassioned, poisony ambitions: "Hail, Macbeth, Hail Thane of Cawdor, thou shall be king hereafter." They also declaim to Banquo that he will be the father of kings – though not one himself. This will not sit well with Macbeth. Played with great smoothness and effortless curiosity from the outset by Patrick Stewart (hey, who's getting fooled now?), the ambitions of his Macbeth unfurl with certain ease. The tight direction under Rupert Goold’s attentive eye weaves well atop this dramatic smoothness, charmed by Stewart's stage intelligence. He makes this naughty fellow all very sinister, funny, - and human. Recalling William Shakespeare’s JULIUS CAESER comment that "ambition should be made of sterner stuff' makes one think about ambition's overkill in the hands of this Scottish villain. Having his gruesome goal - almost immediately - next fulfilled (as predicted by the evil hags) by thus becoming – in fact - Thane of Cawdor, the newly ambitious Scot sets off to wilder heights that include having (his cousin) Duncan rubbed out in red. In Goold’s ghoulish view of things Macbeth, our contemporary history by analogy rings fairly true: militarism rising up in politics American style – maybe British style, too, - and all, (of course) in the name of freedom. Read: ”we but teach bloody instruction, which being taught, returns to plague the inventor”. Following that, think fascist Italy, think Poland September 1939, think Soviets in Kabul 1979 and USA in Kabul 2002, think Abu Gharaib 2003 and beyond. Conclusion: bloody instruction degrades the doer (does that make him an evil-doer)? Macbeth is a sly shit also – wanting the nasty stuff to be done in order to attain his own kingship, - but wary that he might have to confront some awful repercussions if he fails at the bloody deed. In this context, his extra ambitious wife and virago, Lady Macbeth (grandly executed by Kate Fleetwood, and watch the way she manhandles that cake!), steps up to the plate, - titillated and enamored as she has been by Macbeth’s earlier letters detailing the witches’ premonitions. Such is the workings of the thirst and hunger for power, presented here with a near precision for New York audiences. Here, bloody thoughts turn into visual effect for our absorption - elements of sheer terror in the criminal range of ambition: lust, overreaching, hypocrisy, mendacity, misuse of armed forces, tyranny; sound familiar? Several darkly humorous touches in the unfolding drama move well: the spousal bantering, cuddling, and cajoling of Mr. and Mrs. Mac amid the psychic dance of their back and forth blaspheming to power, as well as their premature, flight-from-reality ballroom celebration (black piano and all) both come to mind. All these moments have enormous theatrical influence, and to ask of it that they should be more “scary” or “spooky” would be to risk placing the story of these two Macnaughties in cliché land. Fortunately that never happens. Here, the director has gotten just about everyone to suit the action to the word. There is not a weak actor in this cast, thank you very much (a personal relief of mine). Why can’t all hard-rehearsed Macbeth productions be this Macgood? _________________________________________________
Cast: Suzanne Burden (Lady Macduff), Michael Feast (Macduff), Kate Fleetwood (Lady Macbeth), Scott Handy (Malcolm), Bill Nash (Angus), Mark Rawlings (Lennox), Paul Shelley (Duncan/a Scottish Doctor), Patrick Stewart (Macbeth), Tim Treloar (Ross) and Martin Turner (Banquo). - KEVIN MARTIN
____________________________________________________________________ REVIEW: Samuel Beckett's HAPPY DAYS at Brooklyn Academy of Music. HAPPY DAYS - {Closed Feb. 2} Directed by Deborah Warner, with Fiona Shaw; ------------------------------------------------- Both a huge white sheet amid enormously-mixed mounds of rock and bog and an absolutely earth pounding, unforgettable locomotive - rip-roaring, pre-show sound effect grace the exquisitely lit, opening moments of HAPPY DAYS, - Samuel Beckett's ode to human uncertainty now showing at BAM. With Fiona Shaw as Winnie and staged with smooth, grand intelligence by Ms. Warner, this piece is a great awakening. "There is so little one can do, one does it all", Winnie utters outwardly as she ponders her existence. Her husband Willie arises from his own unterbog early on in Winne's witty lament; hers is a reflection on living misery, conscious or otherwise, - a clarion alert that our "sorrow keeps breaking in". " I can't say anymore for the moment", she asserts. This is a key puzzle piece to Winnie's dim but anxious experience. Beckett remains an eternal voice in the language of theatre. HAPPY DAYS is the turgid reminder that time is short and life is strange; "do something"!, she calls out to herself as well to Willie, - though to no lasting satisfaction. For Beckett, we all "make ready for the night" with lasting futility. Winnie longs for contact that may be unfamiliar; for Willie is now as much her "crawler" as he is her husband. Though love is in great demand, it's in short supply. Willie, too, is in short supply. Willie himself needs love. Indeed, we are all burdened by the threatening weight of emptiness. There is no question that Ms. Shaw's sparkling, innate sense of humor brings enjoyment to this production. Shaw's physical presence is a comfortable fit. Her clear, expressive eyes communicate radiance, with a warmly engaging face added for complement. In the second half, Winnie is fully entrenched in her bog of mortal stuck-ness. "To sing too soon is often fatal", she warns us. Winnie is Beckett's messenger, advising all who may like to listen that we are living out our limitations. When for a short moment, Willie - by the excellent Tim Potter - emerges from his bogged down struggle to make contact with Winnie - ("this is another happy day" she proclaims), that nearness of contact has a fragile register as our longed-for freedom from this mortal coil teases us back into oblivion. Beckett is articulating the inevitable. Warner, Shaw, and Potter churn it all into a bittersweet reminder: life is indeed a walking shadow that struts and frets its hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. - KEVIN MARTIN +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Below are archival samples of earlier reviews - ARCHIVING now in progress

ART (right): "PERMISSION" by KMM;
Dry Pastel/Paper, 2002;
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Archival Favorite (2003:

BAM's current presentation of "UNCLE VANYA" has been a major stage attraction (along with "TWELFTH NIGHT" which runs in repertory with "UV"), and it is no small wonder that audiences have reacted to it all with near (that's "near") unanimous praise. Directed by a truly favorite director of the hour, - Sam Mendez - the entire effort sparkles. This engagement ends on Sunday, March 9.


Archival Favorite:

UNCLE VANYA, which I greatly enjoyed, was graced throughout by a backdrop scenery of the Russian high grass lands, suggesting an enormous sweep of two things: the complex emotionality of Chekhov's misfits, & the staggering land mass that is the great mother Russia.
KM

A Past Review: EDGE, a play which deftly evokes the pained, intelligent woe of SYLVIA PLATH, in a One-Woman play with ANGELIKA TORN, is at Union Square's DR2.

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An absorbingly original "BITTER BIERCE" @ P.S. 122
March 2003


An Archival Favorite:

Ambrose Bierce was a unique sort of wordsmith, a literary & social firebrand in later 19th century America. While writers & word lovers might , generally, write their prose & poetry in committed discipline, Bierce's special craft was to be disciplined in his artistic brazenness. (Look him up & check out his supremely biting "Devil's Dictionary"). In this one-man dramatic & witty performance, actor Stephen Mellor (in a genuinely persuasive task onstage ) effectively brings A.B. to caustically unsentimental, sardonic life, sprinkling biiographical (or AUTO-bigraphical) information about himself as writer & man, and giving us pause to wonder, as well, - can you really separate the two? The program notes, describing Bierce appropriately as a "drastic moralist" - (where are they NOW?) - are very constructive, thank you very much. This {app.) 80 minute piece is well written & directed by Mac Wellman. The set is a changeless triad pattern of three windowish looking squares suspended in evenly separate distances from the ceiling, and perhaps representing the written page(s) of Bierce's personal & professional experience. It is impressive in its own simplicity. If I like the set, as I did here, it obviously adds to my enjoyment & curiosity; there is also resting on a center table a head of lettuce. I have to tell you that I was taken by the lettuce. If you have had an opportunity to see "BITTER BIERCE", you too should have surely registered some bemusement. What makes this whole hour-plus presentation so well worth it, is the show's basic unity of effect: production values such as sound tech, set, lights & props; clean direction; finally, a performance of a character by an actor that understands the person he "inhabits". All of these pieces of the production are effectively used, with admirable results. This was a thoroughly dynamic evening, - but too bad, of course, that "BITTER BIERCE" had to be scheduled as a limited run.
- Kevin Mitchell Martin
........................................ More REVIEWS & a PROFILE or two appearing this MONTH (December 2003) - Click Here, - for a Profile on BINA SHARIF & her new theatrical feature, a one-woman play called "MUSLIM GLITTER" opening at TNC in the East Village for a four week rune beginning December 4th

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