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Monday, February 24, 2020

"Indecent" by Artists Rep @ PSU's Lincoln Hall

I love Paula Vogel's work. I read "How I Learned to Drive" in college, and the local production of "The Long Christmas Ride Home" at Theatre Vertigo in collaboration with Tears of Joy is among the best productions I've seen. 

"Indecent"has its strengths as well, particularly Michael Mendelson as a tailor who becomes enamored with the play-within-a play, "God of Vengeance" a real-life work that got the entire cast arrested for the "obscenity" of the lesbian kiss on Broadway.

I must note that significant bits of text are projected on a teeny-tiny screen attached to the set. I'm aware that I have subnormal vision, but even from my fairly close seat, I had a very hard time seeing. Perhaps the can adjust that? 

All in all, "Indecent" is worth seeing for its exploration of censorship, assimilation, and the power of theatre itself. It's worth seeing.....provided you can see.  

Crippled Critic Concert Preview: Joshua Radin at Revolution Hall Feb. 29th

Joshua Radin is a wonderful singer. I often describe him as Simon & Garfunkel in one body. I am looking very forward to his concert, which also features William Fitzsimmons, the man who holds the record for the longest show I've ever seen. So long that he ended up turning off the mic and playing in the audience. Radin is one of the few artist who, when I saw my first show I raided the merchandise booth. I highly recommend both artists, and Revolution Hall is among my favorite venues in the city. If you've never been, Joshua Radin's show is a great place to start.

Monday, January 27, 2020

"Up & Away" @Broadway Rose

"Up and Away" is a slight departure for Broadway Rose. It is far goofier than their typical offerings. In fact, my favorite part was the intentionally low-tech props and effects. It's a parody of superhero stories, most obviously Superman, but the rogues gallery of comic villains (in both senses of "comic") could fit in any universe. This light comedy was a welcome respite from some particularly somber productions elsewhere. Let Broadway Rose lift your spirits "Up & Away."

"School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play" @ PCS, co-prod w/ Artists Rep

"School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play" has undeniably interesting themes: Race, Class, definitions of beauty, and the role of all of them in society, shrunk down into a Girl's School in Africa. It does what it sets out to do, but with its remarkably brief 70 minute running-time, I was left with the feeling that the play had barely scratched the surface of any of the issues it raises. I mean, most shows in Las Vegas are at least 90 minutes and they have the ulterior motive of rushing guests back into the casinos. On top of its brevity, the ending was particularly unsatisfying. There are wonderful performances, so if that's enough, then by all means, buy a ticket, but be forewarned it is among the shortest pieces I've ever attended.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

"Wait Until Dark" @ Lakewood

Lakewood's "Wait Until Dark" is the show I've been looking forward to the most since the theatres announced their Seasons. It did not disappoint, to say the least. I would put this at the very top of your "Must-See" List. Lakewood did Frederick Knott's Dial 'M' for Murder" last Season, and returns to his work with this production. I've always considered Lakewood the best venue in which to see an old-fashioned, but still crackling thriller. Not only have they done quite a few over the years, the building itself just has that vibe: classy with a dash of gloom. With the play closing in mid-February, you may wait until dark, but not much longer.

Monday, December 30, 2019

"THE STRANGE UNDOING OF PRUDENCIA HART" By Artist's Rep @ The Tiffany Center

The Tiffany Center is the best ART On Tour benue yet. The immersiveness of the show, taking place on all sides of the ballroom "pub"is innovative, as is the idea of eating a pre-show meal pf pub-fare pre-curtain. But, sometimes one performer steals the whole show. In this case, that actor is Darius Pierce. It would be a monumental spoiler to reveal to you what role he really playsm but as one of Portland's most fully-committed actors, who seems most comfortable in odd roles that allow him to let genuine strangeness shine through, this is a role he was born to play. His big-reveal occurs at the very end of Act I, just as the comedy mined from Academic Politics was growing a little tiresome. His performance lends the show some badly needed momentum. It's worth seeing the show for, all by itself.

Monday, December 2, 2019

"It Happened One Christmas," @ Broadway Rose

With "It Happened One Christmas," Broadway Rose reclaims its rightful place on the Nice List. For years on end, Broadway Rose has been the go-to theatre for holiday cheer. Then came last year's "A 1940s Radio Christmas Carol"a show with a decidedly melancholy tone. I remember that a few audience members were not shy in expressing their disappointment in the shift. Much of this was surely due to the fact that audiences had come to count on Broadway Rose as the one theatre seemingly immune to the impulse to skew their holiday production in any direction other than festive. I'm happy to report that "It Happened One Christmas" has them back on the right track. I'll be sure to inform Santa. Also, if memory serves, there seem to be quite a few new songs in this one, which is always nice. If you want to get into the spirit of the Season, this is where to go.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

"La Ruta."

"La Ruta" is an undeniably harrowing story. The end is  searing. But, the winding road we take to get there is disappointing. The play feels overlong even at an intermission-less 100 minutes. There are huge sections of untranslated Spanish, and the way it treats time is utterly confounding, There are numerous projections that denote the time, but I believe that there are instances where time moves forward by years mid-scene.  I have absolutely no clue what purpose the singer is supposed to serve, and she too sings in untranslated Spanish, (the lyrics are translated in the playbill, but by lights-up I didn't feel compelled to go back and look. This play is part of ART's "Table/Room/Stage" series of commissions, as was "Wolf Play", that production's only flaw was a bit of a rough beginning. "La Ruta" seems unfinished, but there is enough potential to wish it the best.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

"Redwood" @ PCS

Tyrone Mitchell Henderson steals the show in "Redwood,"  so much so that it's almost too much. His character, Uncle Stevie possesses many of the conflicting traits that make the production itself such a difficult balancing act. He's a goofball, a flamboyant character who is 90% of the show's comic relief, in his ineptitude in the dancing interludes. He is also at times the show's moral-center, forcing the rest. to confront the uncomfortable past. The sometimes dark humor is the show's greatest asset, and its humor is wide-ranging, even managing to include jokes about the mundaneness of married life, which fit in with, and are relevant to, the struggles of young couplehood made more complicated by certain revelations. The sudden extreme seriousness of certain scenes mixed with the lighter fare is sometimes off-putting, but I think it's intentional, and meant to unsettle, but just be prepared.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

"Macbeth" @ PCS

When I first read, "Macbeth" like you've never seen it before" I expected it to be a bit of marketing hyperbole. This meant I was completely unprepared for its unique aspects. Namely, the all-female cast, which plays multiple roles. It's os an undeniably interesting set-up, and the actresses are exceptional. It must be noted, however, that this also makes the action difficult to follow, especially since the play is short enough not to require an intermission. To compensate, I'd highly recommend either reading the play, or watching one of its many film adaptations prior to going. This will help immensely, and it won't ruin the current performance by any means. The brief vocal musical interludes are beautiful enough on their own to merit buying a ticket. If you go in cold, you may be a little lost.