Theater (167)

Good Theater's "The May Queen" delivers colorful, contentious comedy

There are four desks in the office world of The May Queen, a “pod” in Kingston, New York’s Vallor Group Insurance Agency, and the first one you’ll notice belongs to middle-aged Zumba enthusiast Gail (Laura Houck) – a Hawaiian heaven of grass skirt and hula dolls. The desk where Mike (Rob Cameron) works, when he’s not suspended, is a minor mess of homage to New York sports teams and fast food trash. Of the other…

Old world elegance, sadomasochistic rituals, and murder fantasies on display in The Maids

The powerless have a complicated relationship with power in Jean Genet’s 1947 Absurdist drama The Maids: Claire and Solange both hate Madame and love her, aspire to both kill and be her. Genet’s unnerving look at class, power, and Otherness never really gets old, and Gary Locke directs an exquisitely acted production at The Players’ Ring, starring the exceptional Seacoast-area actors Whitney Smith and Constance Witman.   Genet, the orphaned homosexual son of a prostitute…

A dark battle between technology and human desire rages in The Nether

The line between the real and the virtual is blurring, and Jennifer Haley takes it a leap further in The Nether: she imagines a future in which customers act out, through virtual avatars, urges that are socially taboo in the “real” world. But is one world really more “real” than the other? Are ugly virtual acts morally defensible? Under the finely tuned direction of Christine Louise Marshall, Mad Horse stages a strikingly designed, hauntingly performed…

THE OTHERS marks Theater Ensemble of Color's vital debut

In her 26 years living in Portland, René Johnson says, she remembers seeing only one person of color performing Shakespeare on stage here. And that one performer, she says, was herself. That’s one reason why Johnson, founder and Creative Artistic Director of the Theater Ensemble of Color, chose Shakespeare for the company’s first fully produced show. The Others is a multicultural, multiethnic ensemble production that interweaves scenes from Shakespeare’s works, adapted by Carmen-maria Mandley (who…

A Year In Preview: What will 2017 bring to Maine theatre?

Offering an apropos start to 2017, Mad Horse continues its theatrical exploration of the dark and apocalyptic, with the dark “virtual wonderland” of The Nether (January 19–February 5). It’ll be followed by The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (March 23–April 9) and the acclaimed Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play (May 4–21).   A special delight of the new year will be the return of Dramatic Repertory Company! The wonderful Keith Powell Beyland is back in…

A look back on a year of theatrical high points

After so much bad theater on the political stages this year, we might as well find solace in all the theatrical high points within the actual performance arts. Here we go! To start, one of my favorite experiences of mingled human despair and beauty was Stupid F***ing Bird, Aaron Posner’s sly, smart, very funny riff on Chekhov’s The Seagull, at Mad Horse. Posner’s writing is both profane and profound, and Chris Price directed a superb…

Longfellow and Dickens: A Theatrical Conversation

              The work of Charles Dickens is nearly omnipresent this time of the season, but what about the writer himself; what about Dickens the man? As it happens, the Englishman was a close friend and correspondent of Portland’s own illustrious writer, the nationally beloved poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. And two Portland thespians bring that friendship to life, in a theatrical conversation between the two literary greats, An Evening with…

Anything Helps God Bless, explores Portland's failed ban on "signing" and the lives of those around it

“Twenty-four inches,” says one narrator. “That’s the width of the median strip on Preble Street at the corner of Marginal Way in Portland, Maine.” And then: “Thirty-two inches. That’s the width of an average man who stands on a median strip holding a cardboard sign, measured elbow to elbow.” Most of us have seen these men and women who stand in the street medians, holding signs and asking for money. A controversial 2013 Portland ban…

Adventure and melodrama abound in Great Expectations

Raised in humble circumstances by his surly sister and her blacksmith husband, young Pip nevertheless feels himself called to a higher station in life. The adventure and melodrama awaiting him are made interestingly psychological in the New Hampshire Theatre Project’s deft and evocative ensemble production of Charles Dickens’ classic Great Expectations, its script adapted by Gale Childs Daly for a six-person cast, with the virtuoso Bretton Reis as Pip and five narrators in an epic…

Enigmatic romance: A metaphysical love story plays out at Portland Stage

Five decades ago, Bemadette (Carmen Roman) traveled from her home in war-torn Germany to New York, where she waited in vain for her lover to join her. Since then, though she has written novels about life and relationships, she herself has long been isolated. Now, however, she is unexpectedly re-awakened by a young Cuban man, in Nilo Cruz’s compellingly lyrical and allusive "Sotto Voce," a “metaphysical love story” evocatively staged at Portland Stage Company, under…
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