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Into Hermit Country

Remember when your college roommate returned from his semester abroad with a lot of mildly amusing anecdotes and a firm conviction that he’d finally come of age? Jonathan Putman’s solo piece for Hermit Arts, about his time in Korea teaching English to children, is a lot like that. He seems like a nice enough guy, […]

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The Hermit in New York

Playwright Teresa Weed uses the writings of Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk and radical Catholic thinker, as the starting point for this story of his life. But her placid, overlong, dry-as-dust assemblage of set pieces for Still Point Theatre Collective fails to capture the essence of a man who was both removed from the world […]

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The Masrayana

Presenting a modern-day nightmare in old-timey dress, William C. Kovacsik’s story-theater piece, which includes music and dance, recounts the ordeal of an Indian farmer struggling to reclaim his identity after his unscrupulous brother and corrupt officials conspire to have him declared legally dead in order to seize his land. As Mr. Masra’s existential crisis unfolds […]

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The Merry Widow

Light Opera Works breathes new life into Franz Lehar’s 100-year-old Viennese operetta, about a fictional Balkan state whose financial future hinges on whether its wealthiest inhabitant marries a native or a foreigner. (In a comedy, of course, a proper wedding solves every problem–even in the Balkans.) A new English libretto by Gregg Opelka and Reader […]

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The Ticket

This Studio Z production supposedly combines a multimedia approach with elements of commedia dell’arte and long-form improvisation to tell the wacky story of a traffic ticket and its far-reaching ramifications. At least that’s what the program says. In truth, this is just another amateurish improv show featuring awkward performances lacking in confidence and comedy, punctuated […]

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What’s Wrong With Angry?

British playwright Patrick Wilde’s oddly titled 1993 play brims with the conventions of coming-out plays: sensitive but clever young hero, wry female confidante, conservative small town, high school bullies, star athlete who’s secretly gay, public-toilet cruising, sentimental moralizing, parents who just don’t understand. All that’s missing is a ruefully wise drag queen and some gratuitous […]

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Lake Street Extension

Oracle Productions opens the doors of its new storefront theater with this 1992 Lee Blessing drama about an abusive father, his troubled son, and the Salvadoran refugee who lives with them for a time. These are turbulent waters for a maiden voyage, but director Aaron Shapiro’s production holds up reasonably well. Exploiting the cramped space […]

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Red Georgia Clay

Caitlin Montanye Parrish’s new play focuses on a teenage brother and sister from a small town in north Florida as they come to terms with the death of their monstrous father. Throw in a couple of similarly troubled sidekicks–a suicidal cutter and a persecuted gay guy–and you’ve got four very sad kids. And that’s about […]

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Scarrie–the Musical

David Cerda describes his Scarrie–the Musical as a “parodage”–a parody that also pays homage. What he respectfully ridicules in this Hell in a Handbag production (reworked from a successful late-night show) is Brian De Palma’s 1976 film adaptation of Stephen King’s Carrie, about a bullied high school girl with telekinetic powers. For the homage part, […]

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Queen Lucia

In the first of the 1920s Lucia books, British humorist E.F. Benson pits his childish, snobbish heroine–Emmeline “Lucia” Lucas, undisputed queen of culture in the little village of Riseholme–against a far superior outsider. When opera singer Olga Bracely moves to town, she unwittingly steals the spotlight from Lucia, sparking an epic battle between the two. […]

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The Gardens of Frau Hess

Milton Frederick Marcus’s 1998 play is an egregious example of the American tendency to see every event in terms of personal melodrama: he uses the Holocaust only as grisly backdrop to a fictional affair between the wife of Hitler’s deputy fuhrer and her gardener, a Jewish botanist taken from a concentration camp. (You know how […]

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Hillbilly Antigone

The title suggests that this bluegrass musical version of Sophocles’ play is essentially a derogatory joke hinging on the assumption that putting rural mountain folk in a Greek tragedy is like bringing pigs to church. And ultimately the world here doesn’t so much resemble Thebes as a lurid Li’l Abner strip: cocreators Rick Sims and […]

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Pigs Have Wings

An adaptation of P.G. Wodehouse must convey not only the dialogue but the narration’s mock-serious tone, a perfectly balanced mix of ironic detachment, exaggeration, and understatement. And Page Hearn’s faithful, playful version of Pigs Have Wings manages to find room for the authorial voice–characters deliver the narration–and thus most of the book’s best lines. But […]

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The Age of Consent

MOB Productions makes its debut with Peter Morris’s 2002 play, structured as alternating monologues for a tacky showbiz mom and a young man serving time for a notorious murder he committed as a child. Though Morris tends to moralize on his themes–fame gained and innocence lost–the play proves a sensible choice for a brand-new cash-strapped […]