HANNAH AND THE DREAD GAZEBO by Jiehae Park at Oregon Shakespeare Festival

HANNAH AND THE DREAD GAZEBO by Jiehae Park at Oregon Shakespeare Festival

All the cringeworthy hallmarks of a neophyte playwright are on display here: Unnecessary profanity, inane dude patois, self-referential winks about playwriting, sitcom ham, wildly weird non sequitor lines presented as some sort of triumph, cartoon character exaggeration, awkward scene cutting, et al.

No doubt deeply autobiographical and full of meaning for the playwright – but not much here for the audience.

Even at a scant 90 minutes, seems to take forever to end.

Neck in neck horse race with THE LIQUID PLAIN for worst show ever seen at OSF.

What happens when a great new play touches down in the world capital of theatre? | THE FERRYMAN at Royal Court goes nuclear

The Ferryman Royal Court
Sure, they’re British. But still. Londoners have lost their minds over Jez Butterworth’s new play, THE FERRYMAN.

Hark! It’s a rock concert, it’s a world cup soccer match, it’s a – play?

If now and then you forgot just how insanely popular theatre can be when a play connects with the audience in a real theatre town, well, we’d understand.

I mean, outside of HAMILTON and a few other shows, how often is it that an old-fashioned theatre play sets a city on fire?  It happens.  But way less frequently than it should.

Too often it’s the opposite end of the spectrum – begging and pleading with people to shell out $8 for a show.  And still they won’t come.  That’s not how it should be.

Well, hello London.  Jez Butterworth’s new play THE FERRYMAN started previews this past Monday at the Royal Court, and it appears we have a Nantucket sleigh ride on our hands.

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For Oregon: All the world’s a stage

And the envelope says…

Lynn Nottage wins her second Pulitzer for SWEAT, a play commissioned and premiered by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

We’ve known for a few years now, but this really drives it home:  Oregon (Ashland, Oregon, to be specific) has become one of the great theatre centers of the world.

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THE FERRYMAN by Jez Butterworth opens April 24 at the Royal Court

There are a lot of exciting things in the theatre these days. London’s Royal Court Theatre is one of them.  Jez Butterworth is another.  And a new play by Jez Butterworth at the Royal Court?  It doesn’t get much more exciting than that.  THE FERRYMAN opens April 24.

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THE ANGRY BRIGADE by James Graham at Third Rail

THE ANGRY BRIGADE by James Graham at Third Rail Rep

Thru April 15, 2017

In what is undoubtedly the most exciting old theatre space remaining in Portland (Imago), a blast of comedy and 70’s confusion from Third Rail.  The first half may be a bit too funny for where we’re headed, but the switch after intermission drives home evergreen youthful rage against the machine.

Winter 2017 New York Theatre Blitz

A recent trip to America’s drama capital confirmed two evergreen truths about New York theatre: There is always something good on; Theatre is cheaper here than anywhere else if you know how to look.

Here’s what I saw with a few recaps.

  • JITNEY by August Wilson on Broadway (TDF) $45
  • Signature Theatre – EVERYBODY by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (TDF) $36.50
  • Second Stage – MAN FROM NEBRASKA by Tracy Letts (TDF) $32
  • Labyrinth Theater – DOLPHINS AND SHARKS by James Anthony Tyler $34.50
  • Signature Theatre – WAKEY, WAKEY by Will Eno (TDF) $36.50
  • Irish Rep – CRACKSKULL ROW by Honor Molloy $52.50
  • Mint Theater Company – YOURS UNFAITHFULLY By Miles Malleson (TDF) $33
  • Atlantic Theater – THE PENITENT by David Mamet (TDF) $31.50
  • Joe’s Pub – LET US ASCERTAIN YOU by The Civilians $15
  • Roundabout Theatre – IF I FORGET by Steven Levenson (TDF) $40
  • Theatre for a New Audience – THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH by Thornton Wilder (TDF) $32
  • LCT3 – BULL IN A CHINA SHOP by Bryna Turner $35
  • SIGNIFICANT OTHER by Joshua Harmon on Broadway (TDF) $43
  • Barrow Street Theatre – SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET $85
  • Playwrights Horizons – THE LIGHT YEARS by The Debate Society $56
  • St. Ann’s Warehouse – THE TEMPEST $89
  • Manhattan Theatre Club – LINDA by Penelope Skinner (TDF) $32.50
  • MCC Theater – YEN by Ana Jordan (TDF) $32

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Back to Broadway – Third new play in two years from Tracy Letts premieres at Steppenwolf in November 2017

With current goings on in Washington, the theatre has been crying out for a big new play on politics.  And who better to do it than Tracy Letts.

THE MINUTES will open at Steppenwolf in November 2017 and then transfer to Broadway.

This is the third new play in two years for Letts.

Meanwhile his LINDA VISTA opens March 30, 2017 at Steppenwolf.

Review: ASTORIA at Portland Center Stage is a wooden, pre-modern melodrama about heroic white men battling the wilderness – minus Eugene Levy

ASTORIA Adapted by Chris Coleman at Portland Center Stage

3-stars

Thru February 19, 2017

If you’re setting sail on the perilous journey of adapting a long historical drama for the stage, particularly one that tries to deal with the glorious (or not) story of America’s early days, you should be very familiar with two examples from the genre that define a spectrum of possible outcomes.

On one end, HAMILTON, the international juggernaut that breathes life into history by using forms and multi ethnic bodies of the present.  On the other, RED, WHITE AND BLAINE, the show staged inside of the film WAITING FOR GUFFMAN that has become a defining reference for amateur community theatre and (more subtly) oblivious historical white washing of what life on the merry frontier was like.

Astoria at Portland Center Stage
“How high a ridge I could not tell.” Eugene Levy could make ASTORIA really fun.
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The show is always on with L.A. Theatre Works

If you like theatre, you should know about L.A. Theatre Works.  But I’m betting you don’t.  So here’s a heads up to get the new year rolling.

L.A Theatre Works has been producing plays for audio in front of a live audience for over 25 years. They started off with CD’s in the mail and now distribute via all the usual channels, including Audible.  Their catalogue has grown to over 400 titles.  And many of these are blindingly good, must-listen shows.

L.A. Theatre Works

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