Dec 072012

We saw Oscar Wilde’s AN IDEAL HUSBAND at the Shaw Festival in summer, 2010. It was an excellent production, the staging and costumes were terrific.

Here is a cute video that shows how the stage got changed between THE WOMAN and THE IDEAL HUSBAND that summer. The Shaw Festival has three theaters, each showing 2-3 plays. The Stratford has four theaters, each showing 2-3 plays. The Canadians really take these festivals seriously.

Amazing how these theaters put on so many plays at once. AN IDEAL HUSBAND first played in 1895. Its wit and the topic plays well more than 125 years later. It has been filmed three times, most recently in 1998 with Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett, Rupert Everett and Jeremy Northam.

Nov 302012

We have probably all seen the movie version of this with Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor where the book’s subtext of Brick’s homosexuality is submerged beneath illusions of something else. We saw it in 1992 at the Hilberry Theater, which is the graduate repertory theater associated with Wayne State University in Detroit. A young actor, Thorsten Kaye, played Brick, the Newman role. I thought it would be fun to see whether he had any success after his years in Detroit and see he is currently on the tv show SMASH. He seems to have had steady if not spectacular success since 1992.

Here is a clip from the original Broadway version with Ben Gazarra and Barbara Bel Geddes

Nov 232012

We saw this episodically charming musical at the Shaw Festival at Niagara on the Lake in 2010. The show was written by Ogden Nash and S.J. Perelman, with the music by Kurt Weil. The clip above is from a Broadway version. It has also been made into a film with Ava Gardner. The book isn’t particularly riveting but a lot of the music and staging was fun. It’s the story of the goddess, Venus, brought to life.
For musical theater lovers, there are some lovely songs.

Nov 162012

George F. Walker is a renown Canadian playwright whose work should be performed in the U.S. more often. I saw this play at the Attic Theater in Detroit in 1992. Sad to say, I have little memory of it. It originally opened at the Factory Theater (Toronto) in 1989 to positive reviews and standing ovations. It examines a variety of moral issues through the metaphor  of class conflict as embodied in the lives of society’s downtrodden. But it is also a comedy.

Walker wrote 19 comedies in 20 years at the time that this one was in Detroit. He is known for making the bizarre believable.
The Attic Theater was big on socially relevant plays as I look through my programs from the years it existed. The Attic was the baby of Lavinia Moyer who still directs theater in Detroit.

Nov 092012

I have never seen the movie shown here (is it a parody?) but we saw the play THREE SISTERS by Anton Chekhov at the Stratford Festival in 2008. I must confess I far prefer Chekhov’s stories to his plays, which seem overly lethargic, dramatic, enigmatic. For me, a play is immediate and I have little patience with enigmatic characters on a stage. Especially a cast full of them. When reading a play, you can stop to mull a line over but on stage, the action or inaction continues.

But I am sure there are some great fans of his plays.

Oct 252012

We saw this at Stratford Shakespeare Festival this summer. A nicely mounted production but not my favorite play by any means. The actor playing Henry played Lenny in THE HOMECOMING last season and oh, my I liked him better in that. He was transfixing in that play.

I have to admit Shakespeare’s history plays leave me cold except for Richard III.Am I a philistine?

Oct 182012

We saw THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY at the Abbey Theater on September 29th. What a special place to see this scary work by Oscar Wilde. The young actor playing Dorian was in his first play and he was marvelous. Sweeping around like the narcissistic prig he was. The production never showed the painting. They used a huge frame with a blank background. At first, I found it jarring, but eventually it came to seem like a good decision. Horror is scarier imagined, I think.

For anyone who’s interested, I have an interview at Tom Pluck’s Belly Up to the Bar. It’s because I am widely known for my drinking prowess. 

Oct 112012

This was performed at the Gaiety Theater in Dublin two weeks ago. It was an amazing production where more than half of the stories in Joyce’s  DUBLINERS were magically brought to life almost solely through his words and a few changes of costume. Seeing it in the city of Dublin was just terrific.

Adapted by Michael West and Annie Ryan
. Four performances of this classic were not nearly enough. I have to assume it will play elsewhere. It would be a travesty if it were not.

Oct 052012

We saw this in Edinburgh at the fringe festival in 1994. The play is by Stephen Greenhorn and deals with a fishing community and the trials and tribulations such families live through.

The Edinburgh fringe festival prides itself on showing small and experimental plays that could not get major productions. I see this one has been produced again. And that Mr. Greenhorn is still writing for the stage and screen.

Sep 272012

I saw this at the Clurman Theater in New York in 2007. I can think of few plays I liked less than this one. It was cynical without being interesting. Opaque and yet preachy at the same time. I’ll leave it at that. I can’t think why we chose it. Maybe the tickets were free?