cinemastage.com

Reviews of 2017!
Remember Philip Seymour Hoffman....
2017!
"Nutcracker Rouge"
CINEMASTAGE_FringeBlogNYC2014
FRINGE NYC 2013 - So Far!
2013 Starting the Year (January) With a Few Good Promises
Current THEATER Reviews - for 2013
"MANIPULATION" at Cherry Lane
Fringe 2012
Fringe 2011 (NYC)
onStage with "HERE COMES THE CHANGE"
Some Things in 2008 Worth Remembering: First "Happy Days" at BAM, then The Scottish Tale
Prior to 2007
Past REVIEWS: "OPUS"; "WALMARTOPIA", "DIVIDING THE ESTATE"
Angelica Torn
New York Timers - Friel's "Freedom"
 Reviews and Other Things in Late 2016 and 2017
 
THE EMPEROR JONES
Irish Repertory Theatre, NYC;
 Review by KEVIN MARTIN
 
These days, the Irish Repertory is hitting all high marks for stage artistry - and this exquisite theatrical
kind of artistry reminds one why the seats are always full. (Comfortable seats alone can't do it). In this
current production of  Eugene O'Neill's "The Emperor Jones", lead actor Obi Abili - in the starring role of  Brutus Jones, gives a heart-pounding, blistering characterization of a man with a mischievous, murderous past. Set here in a Caribbean island of the early 1900s, and taken from an event in Haitian history, Brutus (whose past was that of a Pullman porter) is a tormented soul on display, pursuing  - acting-out before acting-out was an overused term - a power fantasy that goes too far. Brutus is enabled in part by a Cockney fellow he encounters in his new domain. Brutus then impresses upon the natives that he is a great magician, who in response to this dazzle, choose him as their emperor, very likely in the hope that he could make their existence more fruitful if not just plain 'ol better. But Brutus - a man sheltering gigantic fears of his own, turns out to be a mean-spirited abuser and manipulator for his own satisfaction.  His end is, well, brutal. Sound a bit "Trumpian", in any way? Could serve as a timely warning, of sorts, for our own time. Only time will tell.  This is an excellent, absorbing production, led by the skillful direction of Ciaran O'Reilly with an exemplary cast,and superb production values. How good is this production of "Emperor Jones"? Well, it's been extended to May 21. Go see it.
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THE PIGEON IN THE TAJ MAHAL
- Review by Kevin Martin
"The Pigeon in the Taj Mahal" - presented at the Irish Repertory Theatre toward the end of 2016 - was a juicy, convincing fantasy romance, appealingly taken up by the likes of love-searching sad sacks in a certain dingy, lonesome Irish roadside trailer - belonging to "Pigeon" himself (the truly excellent character actor John Keating).  The  production's fine acting is amply filled in by Keating and his two terrific co-actors Laoisa Sexton (this play's playwright) and Zoe Watkins. Aptly and smoothly directed by Alan Cox, "The Pigeon in the Taj Mahal" takes flight amid Pigeon's own yearnings and charming channeling of Elvis Presley. This 80 minute excursion brings up the unfulfilled hopes done with very human chatter, but an honest, energized chatter at that. This play is a wonder of sharp, earthy Irish interaction of personal need and escapism, - while simultaneously seeking to make human connection, and always decked out in conversational pursuit. My own take is that Pigeon's isolated trailer on the outskirts of town is an effective device to capture this probing of unrealized hopes of  three human beings here (courtesy of the eventual arrival of another unmarried woman, played by Zoe Watkins) - in a closed-up kind of way.  It is this same excursion of hot and cold wit - that is perhaps a survival tool for the lonely world of adults. We could all learn this reminder for ourselves - and be better for it.  This pigeon soars. 
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CRACKSKULL ROW
 -Review by KEVIN MARTIN
- The Irish Repertory Theatre recently - in February and March - gave us a renewed presentation in the form of a starkly
   honest portrayal of morality's most concerning, most taboo of all taboos. (Can't tell 'ya here). Written with a fearless hand
   by Honor Molloy and very nicely staged by its director, Kira Simring, "Crackskull Road" captivates our own scarred
   humanity - as collectively represented by the characters herein, namely Masher Moorigan the mother (Terry Donnelly),
   Young Rash/ESB Boy (John Charles McLaughlin), Rasher/Basher (Colin Lane), and Dolly/Wee Dolly (Gina Costigan).
   A main idea from this (app. 75 minutes) story is the unkempt, jarred memory of past ill-deeds among family. It is a dark
   past full of unwanted, sad fury and in its carefully tapered way, transmits its nightmarish tale to us audience members.
   Watching it all unfold, I got the sudden impression that we were all eavesdropping in some unexpected manner. The
   crumbling, haunting, decrepit appearance of this shack-like house, with its entry to the front of the premises, is set
   literally at the end of the last millennium's May Eve (1999). The secret of the awful doings that once transpired here
   becomes the riding explanation as to why these hapless human beings are doomed. They (mother Masher and son Rash -
   as well as "young" Rash -, and even daughter Dolly, who in a Masher-induced hallucination, dramatically enters the
   house from a rotted chimney) - are all knotted together by rage and shame (mother and son the more so). Living
   peacefully and happily for even a minute shall always remain far, far out of reach. But the acting reaches out to the
   audience in an intriguing way. Terry Donnelly is top-notch, as she navigates her character's strange blend of horror for all
   of us to witness.  Donnelly uses each second of her stage time with smart perfection. It is difficult to take our eyes off
   her.  The rest of the cast, including Colin Lane who shines as Rash, easily acquits itself with impressive skill.  
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THE ARAN ISLANDS - by J. M. Synge
   Review by KEVIN MARTIN
 
In what can only be described as a magical mystery tour
of fine acting by the gifted Brendan Conroy in this joyful, and
at times bittersweet one-man play, "The Aran Islands" comes
at you with forceful (but never forced) gusts of emotion, by
way of the writings of John Millington Synge. With both a
steady, focused adaptation and stage direction by Joe O'Byrne,
the audience is amply rewarded.  It is probably never always
easy to take an author's writings ("The Aran Islands" are
based on Synge's observations of Aran Island culture at the
beginning of the last century) and then convert it to a stage
dramatization; however, it all works seamlessly here.
This is perhaps thanks in large part to those Irish that deeply
understand and cherish things Irish, as done at the Irish Rep
by actor and director both. Here, for about 100+ minutes -
including a brief interval - Brendan Conroy encapsulates the
several stories of Aran life and ways by skillful embodiment - as
he aptly fulfills the very clear detail as per the program notes, wherein
Conroy succinctly,affectionately shows the Aran people and "their customs,
their habits, their labors, as well as their battles with the elements,
their trials and tragedies, their response to death, and ....
descriptions of the funerals with their keening are an incredible
record of an ancient rite". This is such a memorable theatrical presentation,
moving, uplifting and ever faithful to Synge's gifts of literary richness that
it is virtually impossible to find anything wrong with the production. It would
be downright rude to not mention the brilliant set design of well felt village
waterside life and turf, encased with great fishermen nets and tools, et al.
Great thanks for this goes to Margaret Nolan. Additionally, excellent lighting
belongs to director O'Byrne, while the very effective costume design and
original music sit wonderfully well with Marie Tierney and Kieran Duddy,
respectively. The last performance of "The Aran Islands" is July 23.
You know what to do.
 
Tickets: irishrep.org/the-aran-islands 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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