Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Comedy of Errors

"The Comedy of Error" presented by The Public Theater at Delacorte Theater, June 2, 2013

(photo by Joan Marcus)

The first of the Public Theater's presentations of Shakespeare in the Park is Shakespeare's take on Plautus' Menaechmi, complicated with an extra set of twins separated as small children.  There's no adaptation credit given in the playbill, but one might presume that dramaturg Robert Blacker was pivotal in the streamlining of the book down to a 90 minute one-act.  The result is a farce set in a 1940s Ephesus, complete with a jitterbugging, lindy hopping chorus gathered around the jukebox - - Shakespeare meets Guy and Dolls

Director Daniel Sullivan focuses his energies around Hamish Linklater and Jesse Tyler Ferguson as they take on the dual roles of Antipholus and Dromio, respectively.  Mr. Linklater achieves the greater success in creating two distinct characters around the long-lost brothers.  Mr. Ferguson comes in a close second.  Heidi Schreck also manages to find her way as Luciana.  Skip Suddeth brings us a Tony Soprano-style Duke.  The rest of the cast is serviceable if unremarkable, except for Emily Bergl's gasp-worthy pratfall as Adriana.

The pace is good.  The costumes colorful and sets work nicely.  There are plenty of laughs. It's a good night in Central Park.

Tickets are free, distributed the day of each show at the Delacorte box office in Central Park.  The Comedy of Errors runs through June 30.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Silver Cord

"The Silver Cord" presented by  Peccadillo Theater Company at the Theatre at St. Clement's, June 8, 2013

(Photo by Carol Rosegg)

A tradition of restorative productions is a sometimes unwieldy proposition.  Peccadillo Theater Company continues its residence at the Theatre at St. Clement's with a revival of the 1927 The Silver Cord by Sidney Howard (who won a posthumous Oscar for the screenplay of "Gone With The Wind).  The Silver Cord was something of a hit in its original run, telling the story of how a sociopathic moher interferes in the relationships of her two sons. 
There are obvious factors to support its revival: small cast, minimal costume and set changes.  Before staging this full production, Peccadillo conducted a reading of the play with Charles Busch as the mother. 

If only they had been able to sign him for this run.

Mrs. Phelps' (Dale Carman) two sons David (Thomas Matthew Kelley) and Robert (Wilson Bridges) dote on and adore their widowed mother, who makes the Dance Moms look like Donna Reed.  Robert is engaged to Hester (Caroline Kaplan) and David has already married Christina (Victoria Mack) during his European grand tour.  David arrives home shortly after his honeymoon and mother is out to maintain her claim of dominance over both sons' lives and relationships.  What ensues is a series of uncomfortable manipulation and self-aggrandizing ploys to drive the new women from their lives.

Despite a lovely, if awkward set (Harry Feiner), the ill-humored melodrama stumbles through two and a half hours of actors desperate to make sense of this creaky and uncomfortable play. 
Some find more success than others.  Costume designer Gail Cooper-Hecht manages to evoke the era on a typical off-Broadway tight budget.

Ms. Mack's Christina achieves a level of balance between the stilted language and manner of the period, and any relevance one might find in the dated situation. Ms. Kaplan's Hester also maintains a level of humanity as she sees herself becoming the forerunner of the Stepford Wives.  Messrs. Kelley and Bridges don't find much beyond the two-dimensional pages from which their characters spring.  Mr. Carman fails to channel his inner Lady Bracknell and leaves us with a Mrs. Phelps who is annoying at best, and forgettable at worst.

One can find some blame for all this in the dated and apparently untouched script from Mr. Howard.  The balance of blame falls to director Dan Wackerman for not bringing any sense of relevance to the dysfunctional family presented.  I won't dignify the scene in David's bedroom with any further description than to say, "ugh."

The Silver Cord runs through July 14.  Tickets are available here.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

2013 Tony Awards - my predictions

Just under the wire, here are my predictions:

Best Play *
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Best Musical *
Matilda The Musical
Best Revival of a Play *
The Trip to Bountiful
Best Revival of a Musical *
Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
Best Book of a Musical *
Kinky Boots - Harvey Fierstein
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) *
Kinky Boots - Music and Lyrics: Cyndi Lauper
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play *
Tom Hanks - Lucky Guy
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play *
Cicely Tyson - The Trip to Bountiful
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical *
Billy Porter - Kinky Boots
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical *
Stephanie J. Block - The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play *
Tony Shalhoub- Golden Boy
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play *
Judith Light - The Assembled Parties
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical *
Gabriel Ebert - Matilda The Musical
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical *
Andrea Martin - Pippin
Best Direction of a Play *
Nicholas Martin - Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Best Direction of a Musical *
Matthew Warchus - Matilda The Musical
Best Choreography *
Peter Darling - Matilda The Musical
Best Orchestrations *
Danny Troob - Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
Best Scenic Design of a Play *
John Lee Beatty - The Nance
Best Scenic Design of a Musical *
Rob Howell- Matilda The Musical
Best Costume Design of a Play *
Ann Roth - The Nance
Best Costume Design of a Musical *
William Ivey Long - Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
Best Lighting Design of a Play *
Donald Holder - Golden Boy
Best Lighting Design of a Musical *
Hugh Vanstone - Matilda The Musical
Best Sound Design of a Play *
Leon Rothenberg - The Nance
Best Sound Design of a Musical *
Peter Hylenski - Motown The Musical