Archive | March, 2018

Theater2020 MURDERS Assassins!

16 Mar

“Everyone has a right to their dreams and to be happy”, right? Sure, that seems like an easy pill to swallow. But what if their dream is to assassinate the president? Now, we must pause. This is what hit me within the first five minutes of Theater2020’s powerful and timely production of Assassins by Stephen Sondheim. I wish I could say that I was able to stop wrestling with that question and simply “enjoy” the show, but that would be a lie. Thanks to purposeful direction by David Fuller, this production doesn’t let the audience off the hook so easily and makes us ponder the inconceivable; do murderers deserve to be humanized and understood? I didn’t clap once until the show was over because of how profound this show is, not because there was ANY lack of talent on stage.

 

What happens when some of the USA’s most infamous presidential killers meet in an altered reality to connect with each other over their heinous acts? The result is hilarity and unnerving truths that we do not want to acknowledge because it scares us as it reveals the darker sides of the human condition. The cast does a great job of forcing the audience to sit with their feelings. We sit so close to the stage and the performers use the whole theater, which means that you can’t escape no matter how badly you want to check out. Amber Dewy serves as the narrator and lastly as Lee Harvey Oswald. Her magnetic voice strikes to the core. Dewey shape shifts well, switching vocal styles seamlessly. There’s no weak spot in her voice and it’s a pleasure to listen to her. Christian Doyle plays John Hinckley so well that we believe that the only way for him to win Jodie Foster’s love is to kill Ronald Reagan. His vulnerability is so honest that we can’t help but feel for his plight and root for him (almost).Insane! Bringing outstanding comedy to the show is Danny Wilfred. He saves us from total despair by making us laugh at the most inappropriate times. The rest of the cast impresses as well and all are praiseworthy.

But is doing a show like Assassins glorifying these men and women who have caused so much pain? Or is it a way to remind us all about mental illness and perhaps the need for stricter gun  control? Well, I leave that up to you to decide. But with our current political climate I urge you to be brave and go see this show. This is top-notch off off Broadway theater and yet again, a prime example of Theater That Matters! Simply put, they MURDER this production.

Assassins plays now through March 25, 2018 at 182 Remsen St., St. Francis College http://www.theater2020.com

Brietwisch Farms is FARMtastic!

13 Mar

Sometimes we go to the theater to be entertained and there’s nothing wrong with that! But sometimes we are lucky enough to learn at the same time. If you are seeking mere entertainment, don’t go see this show. However if you are seeking a thought-provoking, socially conscious, and morally engaging piece of theatre please go see Breitwisch Farm by Jeremy S. Kamps. Based on Anton Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard, this play is a firecracker brought to us Esperance Theater Company.

Doing a modern adaptation of a classic work is always dangerous. But in this case, it pays off ten-fold. For a full description of the Cherry Orchard please see (http://www.sparknotes.com/drama/cherryorchard/summary). But, Kamps play asks what happens when Web returns home to find that his mother’s farm in Wisconsin is in danger of being foreclosed upon? To his surprise and dismay, no one seems to care or take it too seriously. Web does not plan on staying too long but in comes Tai, a youthful idealist who captures his heart. On the farm we also meet Dolores and her son Oscar, immigrants from Mexico whose father was deported five years ago. Oscar has the potential to attend college on a full scholarship because of his academic and athletic prowess, but that comes to an dramatic end when racist teenage boys cripple him because of his ethnic origin.  

Chekhov was primarily concerned with the disappearance of the middle class. This play deals with our loss of agriculture and how we treat farmers, especially migrant ones. There are other story lines and themes that emerge throughout the play, such as fracking, human rights and political tensions. Weaving all these issues together into one play seems daunting, but playwright Jeremy S. Kamps does a masterful job of joining these events together like a skilled seamstress.

But what’s a play without its actors? Nothing! The cast is stellar. There is not one weak link in this knockout production. The chemistry between Joe Tapper (Web) and Danata Esperanza (Tai) are breathtaking and heart-wrenching at the same time. Their scenes moved me to tears beyond words. Alejandro Rodriguez is powerful as Oscar. His journey from arrogant youth to a leading young man is praiseworthy. Equally as impressive is Maria Peyramaure as Dolores. She is simply stunning and no other words are needed. I could say something flattering about all the actors in this gorgeous cast, but for the sake of brevity I will keep it short.

Simply put, you MUST see this show. It is awe-inspiring, meaningful, and eye-opening. If this is a taste of what Esperance has to offer us; timely socially conscious theater, I say bring it on in abundance. Thanks to them my belief in the transformative power of theater was reaffirmed. They say that “their roots run deep”. After seeing this wonderful production, I couldn’t agree more. This is a prime example of affordable, outstanding theater offered in the off off broadway community. And if you can’t afford it, they are generous enough to offer community tickets-free tickets-for those who otherwise might not be able to afford a night at the theater. This is a must see show and certainly a profound example of Theater That Matters.

Breitwisch Farm runs now through March 16, 2010 at Town Stages 221 West Broadway. http://www.esperancetheatercompany.org