Theater (178)

Box-seat banter: Theater at Monmouth delivers delightful play-within-a-play with The Real Inspector Hound

The stage is set as an English country manor – dark wood paneling, a silver tea set and a dead body near the chaise longue – when two theater critics settle into box seats for some pre-curtain shop-talk: Fussy second-string critic Moon (Mark S. Cartier) pouts over the first-string critic he’s replacing; jocular Birdboot (Bill Van Horn) sings lecherous praises of the ingénue they’re about to see. Soon, the show will start, and their real-time…

Minimalist gothic: Henry James classic offers subtle shudders

“What children want is a mystery,” says a London man (Jacob Sherburne) to the governess (Marlowe Holden) he’s hired to care for his orphaned niece and nephew in the country. He says it with an odd twinge of resentment, rue and menace, and it’s a line that will be repeated, before too long, by the governess herself. Wants are indeed mysterious – and not just those of children – and varieties of seduction run eerily…

Hamlet compressed: Deering Oaks production reimagines set design

If garden-variety al fresco Shakespeare is starting to feel a little too pastoral, safe, and/or last-century, then get thee to Deering Oaks Park for Fenix Theatre Co.’s dark, edgily conceived and tautly executed Hamlet. Using amplification — both stationary and hand-held mikes — for the first time in Fenix’s tenure in the park, this Hamlet, under the direction of Abigail Killeen and starring Rob Cameron, has a flavor of dark, industrial transience, staged as it…

Flights of fancy: Deertrees production bubbles with humor, offbeat characters

Lettice (Maureen Butler) is the avowed enemy of the “mere.” Anything bland or boring requires “enhancement,” including the blah stories of the historic Fustian House, where she gives tours for the British Preservation Trust: A certain staircase becomes the set-piece for any number of Elizabethan gallantries and tragedies, and the tourists eat it up. That is, until Lettice is caught in the act by Lotte (Patricia Mew) an undercover Trust official, in Peter Shaffer’s comedy…

Disarming and absurd: Jenny1538 breezes by in this  summertime late-night series

Overachieving Jenny (Mark Rubin), of Brownie Troop 1538, wants her Discovery Badge. She wants it madly. Abidingly. It is the only badge she lacks, she has attempted it unsuccessfully five times, and she will not be whole without it. Whom will she charge with helping her tell the story of her latest Discovery to win the Badge? Why, an obscene, homeless, out-of-work actor (Brent Askari), of course.

Teens on the Mall: These young people give the Bard a gentle updating

Now that the nights are finally getting sultry, it’s a good time to turn to the rash, impetuous, balcony-enabled teenage love of Romeo and Juliet. The Theater Project’s no-frills community theater production, staged on the Mall in Brunswick by local, non-professional actors, makes a gentle struggle of the young people’s desires and their friends’ violence: these teens aren’t murderous gang members, but rather decent suburban kids whose hormones, crossed stars, and parents’ divisive culture make…

Stage left: Preview of what’s still showing this summer in theater

Shakespeare is a perennial of summer, so let’s start this season preview with the ever-festive, often scrappy tradition of Fenix Theater Co.’s al fresco shows in Deering Oaks Park. This year, they produce Hamlet – a surprising choice for the urban pastoral landscape – and for the first time ever, their actors will be amplified with microphones (July 16-Aug. 8, with one performance on July 25 in Congress Square Park). Even more than usual, perhaps,…

Fringe fare: PortFringe-15 hones its categories, diversity

Don’t despair of all the perky Broadway musicals about to burgeon: Summer is also time to get your Fringe on in Portland. It’s the fourth year now that PortFringe has offered new, edgy and experimental work grown here and beyond. Running from June 20-28, PortFringe-15 presents multiple performances of 48 productions, staged variously at Geno’s Rock Club, Portland Empire, and Portland Stage’s Mainstage, Studio and Store Front theaters.

Soul sisters: Ogunquit Playhouse highlights theme of unity in Sister Act

What’s the safest place to hide a woman who screams to be seen? Under a shapeless religious frock and in an austere religious order, perhaps. That’s the fate of Deloris (Rashidra Scott), a would-be disco diva who sees her lover commit a murder. Both Deloris and the Queen of Angels’ Mother Superior (Jennifer Allen) have a ways to go to find grace with the situation, in Sister Act, the musical based on the film, which…

The elements of Watson: Dramatic Repertory Company taps into technology, human ties

There are three Watsons in The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence: the famous detective’s sidekick, the non-human Jeopardy! champion, and the assistant to whom Alexander Graham Bell called out during the first communication by wire. These disparate settings and Watsons constellate Madeleine George’s uncommon exploration of technology and human connection, which has its New England premiere in a disarming, beautifully executed production of Dramatic Repertory Company, directed by Keith Powell Beyland.
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