CHARLES SPENCER’S LAST REVIEW FOR THE U.K. TELEGRAPH: RICHARD BEAN’S ‘TOAST’ and more...


CHARLES SPENCER’S LAST REVIEW FOR THE U.K. TELEGRAPH: RICHARD BEAN’S ‘TOAST’

 

(Spencer’s article appeared 9/1.)

“I like work,” wrote Jerome K Jerome in Three Men in a Boat. “It fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours”.

The playwright Richard Bean evidently took these words to heart when writing his first professionally staged play, Toast, which set his career rolling in fine style at the Royal Court back in 1999.

It’s a good old-fashioned piece in the tradition of David Storey and Arnold Wesker, based on the dramatist’s own experience of working in bread factory in his native Hull when he was 18.

It announced Bean as a bright new talent to watch, a promise this prolific writer has triumphantly fulfilled since then, not least with his smash hit One Man, Two Guvnors.

What’s astonishing is that so many of his distinctive gifts were in place so early in his career, as this excellent and highly welcome revival, directed by Eleanor Rhode and grittily designed by James Turner, abundantly testifies.

 (Read more)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/theatre-reviews/11066383/Toast-Park-Theatre-review-constantly-compelling.html

Visit Stage Voices Publishing for archived posts and sign up for free e-mail updates: http://www.stagevoices.com/ .  If you would like to contribute a review, monologue, or other work related to theatre, please write to Bob Shuman at Bobjshuman@gmail.com .

     

AARON POSNER: 'STUPID F***ING BIRD' (REVIEW PICK, CHI)

(Chris Jones’s article appeared in the Chicago Tribune, 8/22.)

At one point in "Stupid F***ing Bird," the endlessly self-aware play by Aaron Posner that will be sweet and oft-hilarious relief for anyone who has sat through way too many shattering productions of the fragile plays of Anton Chekhov, the characters, neurotics all, start to obsess about how little they mean.

They're merely characters in a play, they tell us, and they well know that moments after they exit stage left (or right or wherever the heck), we'll be shuffling to the end of the row and checking our smartphones for whatever precious emails we missed while they were baring their souls, or, say, planning to kill themselves. They do, however, take some solace in that they are in a play with profanity in the title. That bit of bait-and-switch, they chuckle, at least has sold some tickets. Well, maybe that and a two-bit Masha, here named Mash, singing "Desperado" on her crummy little banjo.

(Read more)

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/reviews/ct-ent-0823-bird-review-20140822-column.html

Visit Stage Voices Publishing for archived posts and sign up for free e-mail updates: http://www.stagevoices.com/ .  If you would like to contribute a review, monologue, or other work related to theatre, please write to Bob Shuman at Bobjshuman@gmail.com .

     

CAMILLE PAGLIA: ON JOAN RIVERS

(This story first appeared in the June 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.)

Joan Rivers is a force of nature. Her caustic voice, relentless energy and driving ambition remain formidable, while her flinty toughness has carried her through bruising career reverses and shocking personal tragedies. Joan is the queen of comebacks and a master of all media, having invaded every format from stand-up, theater, movies and books to talk shows, shopping channels, reality TV, radio and the web.

When I arrived on the public scene after the release of my first book in 1990, I was called "the academic Joan Rivers" -- a title I loved. Yes, Joan influenced me profoundly. Watching her on TV, I learned so much about how to work a crowd or wake up groggy students in my morning classes. With her combative, rapid-fire style, Joan has shown generations of women how to command a stage and make it your own.

(Read more)

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/camille-paglia-joan-rivers-iconic-565825

Visit Stage Voices Publishing for archived posts and sign up for free e-mail updates: http://www.stagevoices.com/ .  If you would like to contribute a review, monologue, or other work related to theatre, please write to Bob Shuman at Bobjshuman@gmail.com .

     

SANDY WILSON, REST IN PEACE (1924-2014)

 

(Michael Freedland’s and Michael Coveney’s article appeared in the Guardian, 8/27.)

The composer and lyricist Sandy Wilson, who has died aged 90, achieved his greatest success while still in his 20s – and what a success it was. In the 1950s, The Boy Friend ran for more than five years at Wyndham's theatre in London and spent more than a year on Broadway. When it opened in the West End, in January 1954, it was revolutionary, a totally new and different kind of musical.

Big American shows such as Oklahoma!, Annie Get Your Gun and Carousel had dominated musical theatre for years. They were big and brash, full of women in gingham dresses and men in big hats chewing cigars. Here came a show that was a throwback to the flappers of the roaring 20s. Young women were seen with flattened chests and cloche hats; young men wore bell-bottomed trousers and all but said, "Anyone for tennis?" Set in a finishing school in the south of France, The Boy Friend revolved around the romance of a wealthy boy and girl who are each attempting to keep their family's fortune a secret.

Could it work? Amazingly, it did. And when the show opened in New York in September 1954, its startlingly brilliant leading lady was Julie Andrews, making her Broadway debut. It was Wilson's plangent, plaintive songs, such as I Could Be Happy With You and A Room in Bloomsbury, that really made the show. The tunes became standards, and for a time everyone wanted to do the charleston: the packed audiences found some kind of relief from the austerity of the postwar years in this romantic tribute to a more lighthearted age. The Irish playwright and journalist Hugh Leonard later proclaimed it to be "as English as muffins and monocles". The show ran in London for more than 2,000 performances, outstripped only by Agatha Christie's runaway success with The Mousetrap.

(Read more)

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/aug/27/sandy-wilson

Visit Stage Voices Publishing for archived posts and sign up for free e-mail updates: http://www.stagevoices.com/ .  If you would like to contribute a review, monologue, or other work related to theatre, please write to Bob Shuman at Bobjshuman@gmail.com .

     

LAOISA SEXTON: ‘THE LAST DAYS OF CLEOPATRA’ (REVIEW PICK, NY)

  

(Andy Webster’s article appeared in The New York Times, 8/25.)

Last year, the actress-playwright Laoisa Sexton delivered a bleak, funny and flavorful take on women’s lives in recession-ravaged Dublin with her winning “For Love” at the Irish Repertory Theater. With “The Last Days of Cleopatra,” now at Urban Stages, she again depicts that city’s working class, but across genders and generations.

The central event in “Cleopatra” is the death of Tess, the largely unseen matriarch to a fractious clan. The father, Harry (Kenneth Ryan), once a touring trumpeter, drives a cab and hangs at the pub but somewhat fancies himself a smooth operator. Though he waxes nostalgic about Tess (his “Cleopatra”), he flirts with a friend’s ex. (Kevin Marron, here in drag, inhabits small roles.) Harry’s son, Jackey (Michael Mellamphy), is a pudgy newsstand clerk obsessed with Twitter and twerking. (Harry calls him a “twinkle toes.”) Harry’s daughter, the alternately caustic and tentative Natalie (Ms. Sexton), strives for a performing career of sorts, wearing Elmo and Easter bunny costumes at children’s birthday parties and drifting uneasily into striptease.

(Read more)

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/26/theater/the-last-days-of-cleopatra-a-dark-comedy-by-laoisa-sexton.html?hpw&rref=theater&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=HpHedThumbWell&module=well-region®ion=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well

Visit Stage Voices Publishing for archived posts and sign up for free e-mail updates: http://www.stagevoices.com/ .  If you would like to contribute a review, monologue, or other work related to theatre, please write to Bob Shuman at Bobjshuman@gmail.com .

 

     

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