There is much to appreciate in David Lindsay-Abaire’s Rabbit Hole, and credit for Insight’s thoughtful production needs to go to director Jason Cannon for giving this often-performed domestic tragedy a deliberate and coherent reading. He constructs a through line illuminating the play’s use of parallelism in a dual context that insures that the ending makes sense to the audience. The story thus seems more organic than episodic, as is a danger with this script, and that is a major accomplishment by Cannon. It almost makes sense to me now that it got a Pulitzer Prize, and I can see why a reader would think it’s extraordinary. However, it can be argued (and of course, I’m going to) that it is very difficult to feel emotion that goes beyond admiration when the show is performed.
Victoria Grant (Janna Cardia) is a divorced, unemployed opera singer who is hungry and cold when she wanders into Chez Lui late one night. There she meets Caroll “Toddy” Todd (David Schmittou), a kindly gentleman who stands her to a hot chocolate and brandy (which is for him) over the protestations of the officious manager, Henri Labisse (James Beaman) who sounds like Inspector Clouseau. Labisse reminds Toddy of his outstanding tab, incurring one of his many minor injuries played for laughs. It is Paris, 1934, and several lives are about to change.
Yes, she could “say that,” and she made crafting double entendres into a fine art. A veritable bouquet of her most famous zingers wraps up Dramatic License’s production of Dirty Blonde with Artistic Director Kim Furlow as the extremely imitable West and John Reidy and B. Weller in various roles representing the many men in her life. Carolyn Hood directs with as much grace as Claudia Shear’s hybrid script (part play, part musical) allows.
The audience at the Rep’s 45th anniversary opener is “seeing red,” and maybe for the first time. In this case, the phrase has nothing to do with anger; rather, it means a way of receiving visual art per Mark Rothko, leading 20th century abstract expressionist painter. And playwright John Logan’s Red depicting a critical time in Rothko’s life is a tour-de-force on all levels, conceptual, artistic, and technical.
Unless you’ve been in a coma, you know that the 10th anniversary of 9/11/01 is upon us, and it is being observed in many public arenas, including theaters. End Days by Deborah Zoe Laufer is the New Jewish Theatre’s contribution, and it is mostly successful in balancing respect for the event with much-needed laughter. I liked it a lot.
By her own account, Anne Nelson wrote The Guys in response to the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 in only 9 days. By December, the play was in full production at the Flea Theatre in New York City for a three-week run attended by audiences whose shock and grief were communal open wounds. I wish I had seen the production then.
The playwright Edward Bond is the most prolific and important theatrical figure in the last 50 years of so that I’ve never heard of. The Manchester Guardian calls him “one of Britain’s most shocking and uncompromising playwrights.” He has written poetry, criticism, and screenplays. He is a director. Born in 1934 and self-educated after the age of 15, he is still working, and to date has published 40 plays that have received production, and a number of others that haven’t or are not available at this time. He’s a translator and a librettist. Restoration was written as a condemnation of the (Margaret) Thatcher administration—the “Iron Lady” who was the conservative Prime Minister of England in the 1980s—which, if Bond is to be believed, had a kind of “let them eat cake” attitude toward the common people.
Even as inured as much of society has become to violence, every once in a while, something comes along that horrifies us. Such was the case with the press-dubbed “thrill killers,” Nathan Leopold, 18, and Richard Loeb, 19, whose crime, though committed in 1924, still fascinates us today. They were possessed of genius IQ’s, both graduated college at 15, and were influenced by philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept of the “superman” (Übermensch), which Loeb (in the play; Leopold in real life) interpreted to mean that superior beings aren’t bound to the same rules as the rest of humanity. Or at least that’s the reading Thrill Me (book, music and lyrics by Stephen Dolginoff) provides.
Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical is ridiculous in both senses of the word. It is “silly” ridiculous, and “ridiculous” in the current slang meaning “that was so much fun, it was ridiculous!” The NonProphets played to a full house Friday night, which just goes to prove that if you give ‘em what they want, they’ll come out for it. Clearly, what St. Louis theatre-goers have been pining for is a comedy musical based on a classic porno flick. Who knew?
Director Jason Cannon introduced The Crucible by calling it one of the “best plays of the 20th century.” It’s not, but it may be the most important (and it is very good, as well). This production has a number of highs and a few lows, but is successful overall in conveying the madness of a society gone out of control due to factionalism caused by mistrust, misinformation, and misuse of fundamentalist religious beliefs.