Hooked from the start on Yee’s Hookman

May 10

Hooked from the start on Yee’s <i>Hookman</i>

Leave it playwright Lauren Yee to bring clear definition to the sub-genre "existential slasher comedy." That's exactly what her Hookman is, a fascinating world-premiere play from Encore Theatre Company that draws laughs from teen speak and the usual first year of college tropes but blends in a rich and disturbing examination of loss, responsibility, maturity and what it is to be a young woman in the 21st century.

Is the man with the hook a real serial killer?

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Sublime stories from Word for Word and Alice Munro

Mar 08

Sublime stories from Word for Word and Alice Munro

Any celebration of Alice Munro merits attention, but when that celebration comes from Word for Word, the ever-astonishing local company that transforms short fiction into brilliant theater with complete fidelity to the original text, attention must not only be paid but also reveled in and savored.

Word for Word brought a Munro story to life in 1999 ("Friend of My Youth"), and the intervening years have brought more acclaim for the Canadian writer and a Nobel Prize for literature. Now that she is rightly revered for her masterful prose, Munro is given a full Word for Word evening in Stories by Alice Munro: "The Office" & "Dolly," a sort of career bookend.

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Shaker it up, baby now!

Feb 06

Shaker it up, baby now!

If, as they say, 'tis the gift to be simple, then Early Shaker Spirituals is truly gifted.

Just what is this show exactly? Is it an hourlong piece of documentary theater about songs sung (and danced) by the Shakers, an offshoot of the Quakers? Is it a simply staged concert in which four women sing along with a record album? Is it some avant garde comment on simplicity and spirituality by New York's famed Wooster Group? Yes, yes and yes.

If you happen to be going to this sold-out touring production now at Z Space, first of all, lucky you.

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Threats of totalitarianism have never been so fun

Dec 08

Threats of totalitarianism have never been so fun

Our sorry political state may be sending the country down the toilet, but it sure is inspiring some grand entertainment. Veep and House of Cards offer two distinct points of view on the absurdity of Beltway power mongering. Lauren Gunderson's The Taming was a comic highlight of last year's local theater scene (review here) in its exploration of political game playing.

Now we have Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's The Totalitarians, a Z Space production in association with Encore Theatre Company and the National New Play Network.

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Nine justices ponder pasties, g-strings and nudity in Arguendo

Oct 31

Nine justices ponder pasties, g-strings and nudity in <i>Arguendo</i>

For those of us with no ear for legalese, for whom courtroom scenes in TV shows and movies induce narcolepsy, the premise of Elevator Repair Service's Arguendo does not sound promising. This celebrated and intrepid New York company, most famous for its word-for-word production of The Great Gatsby (the eight-hour Gatz), turns its attention to our highest court for a verbatim account of a 1991 case, Barnes v. Glen Theatre Inc., that dealt with issues of public nudity, more specifically the nude dancers at the South Bend, Ind., Kitty Kat Lounge and Glen Theatre.

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Life, love, kick-ass music in Bengsons’ Hundred Days

Mar 06

Life, love, kick-ass music in Bengsons’ <i>Hundred Days</i>

In those moments, when the music and voices are soaring, the drums are pounding, the feet are stomping and the hands are clapping, there's no better place to be than sitting in Z Space fully immersed in the glorious new rock musical Hundred Days.

A creation by The Bengsons, the musical duo comprising spouses Abigail Bengson and Shaun Bengson, Hundred Days is an unconventional musical that is so much more than it seems.

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