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A Lie of the Mind

Kerstin Broockmann and Maggie Speer’s clean, naturalistic staging lives up to the many challenges of Sam Shepard’s dark, dense epic of American denial and rage. In one of his finest, most thorough works, the playwright known for his almost surreal depiction of American dysfunction takes us into the painfully intimate heart of the relationship between […]

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X &Y (Two Working Stiffs)

X & Y (two working stiffs), Black Forest Productions and Synerdreams, at Angel Island. Seamus (James) Connors, writer and director of this uneven, seemingly unfinished new play, would have greatly benefited from an outside eye in staging it. Set in the “near future” after a nuclear “occurrence,” the story is strangely divided between the antics […]

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The Calling of Sebastian

THE CALLING OF SEBASTIAN, Broken Taillight Productions, at Voltaire. In the program notes for this new sketch-comedy show, Broken Taillight instructs us that it has no message; unfortunately, it also shows few signs of intelligence or talent, despite press-release claims that this “black comedy” makes “very strong comments on society.” Essentially The Calling of Sebastian […]

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Love Diatribe

LOVE DIATRIBE, Great Beast, at National Pastime Theater. For its debut production, the Great Beast theater company stages one of the late Harry Kondoleon’s lesser-known works. Perhaps best known nationally for Self-Torture and Strenuous Exercise, Kondoleon has a unique, strangely satirical voice that earned him two Obie awards. His depictions of dysfunction and absurdity in […]

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Top Girls

TOP GIRLS, Piven Theatre. In the decade since Caryl Churchill’s contemporary classic Top Girls premiered, the problem she addresses–how a woman can make it in a man’s world–hasn’t changed significantly. While women in America and western Europe have made strides toward equality in the workplace, unresolved issues of pay, child care, and maternity leave show […]

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Amanda and Eve

AMANDA AND EVE, Bailiwick Repertory. Alexandra Billings’s charming if somewhat stilted new play, Amanda and Eve (inspired by the Tracy-Hepburn film Adam’s Rib), explores the painful definition of marriage for a contemporary professional lesbian couple. Both the play and the movie pit married attorneys against each other as they take opposite sides in a spousal […]

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Praying for Sheetrock

PRAYING FOR SHEETROCK, Lifeline Theatre. The phrase “praying for Sheetrock” comes from one of the most moving passages in Melissa Fay Greene’s 1991 award-winning book about the struggle for civil rights in rural Georgia: a black woman who stood in ice to pack shrimp into cans for 20 cents a piece until she grew too […]

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Born Yesterday

BORN YESTERDAY, Bog Theatre. This production of Garson Kanin’s contemporary classic remains true to its 1940s setting and feeling, taking the audience straight to the heart of post-World War II Washington, D.C., where Kanin’s archetypal characters fight for the meaning of democracy. In the play, the corrupt forces of big business, embodied by the swindling […]

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Tetragrammanon Is

TETRAGRAMMANON IS, at Saint Paul Church of the Redeemer. What this is is a very noble effort for an extremely worthy cause. Unfortunately Francois Dimanche’s spiritual, surreal play–about an ordinary woman who’s transformed into what may be the new messiah–has some structural problems: it seems to end several times, and it’s filled with lengthy monologues […]

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Train Of Thought

TRAIN OF THOUGHT, American Blues Theatre. Company member Andrew Micheli’s first produced play contains many dramatic problems common to playwrights’ first attempts. His longish one-act, set on a train platform, not only lacks dramatic crescendo and climax but, more important, is overwhelmed by the playwright’s self-conscious attempts at intellectuality. When two strangers meet on a […]

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The English Only Restaurant

The English Only Restaurant, North Avenue Productions, at Voltaire. Silvio Martinez Palau’s extremely clever comedy is still frighteningly relevant seven years after is was first produced by the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater in New York. Set in a restaurant owned by a Latino immigrant who forbids employees and patrons from speaking Spanish, the play explores […]