Theater (178)

Keep Your Eyes Wet: USM's 'Molded by the Flow' Makes Spirited Theater

Molded by the Flow is a show about water and work. As it begins, musicians tap mallets against tall glass jars and suspended silver goblets. Workers in coveralls move among wood crates stacked high against a blue screen, which flickers to life with a pale, fluid ripple. Visions of water are the pulse of this original multi-disciplinary performance and the culmination of a year-long collaboration between students and faculty in USM’s departments of Theatre, Art, and the School…

Grief Lessons: Portland Stage's String Around My Finger

In the aftermath of a miscarriage, Emma (Marjolaine Whittlesey) and her fiancé Kip (Chris Davis) must contend with their loss, with their own hearts, and – especially trying, sometimes – with other people’s help. A stranger writes to Emma comparing her lost child to the death of a dog. Kip’s tone-deaf, type-A sister Lisa (Danielle Slavick) hovers by the hospital bed and kibitzes. The physician assistant, Dave (David Mason), is jaded and monosyllabic. It’s all so…

Long Lost America: Good Theater's Tender Trip to Bountiful

In post-WWII America, many families left their farms, and men who had once been their own bosses were now answering to office supervisors and managers. Social critics have written about the demoralizing effect this had on men. But what of the women? After widowed Carrie Watts (Louisa Flaningam) is forced to sell off the vast family farmlands in Bountiful, Texas, she finds herself trapped in a two-room apartment in Austin, with her worried son (Christopher Holt) and…

Cast Aside's Gutenberg! Wears Every Hat in the Book

Before heading out to Cast Aside Productions’ latest show, Gutenberg! The Musical!, I googled Johannes Gutenberg, the man who in 1439 famously introduced movable type — and thus mass literacy — to Europe. I found a possible broken betrothal, a few bankruptcies, and lots of gaps in the historical record — slim pickings, I thought, for a musical. Turns out the young writers of Gutenberg!, Bud Davenport (Kyle Aarons) and Doug Simon (Ryan Walker), did…

Trial in Purgatory: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot balances dark exercises with smart comedy

Purgatory — the waiting-place where the dead await judgment — turns out to have plumbing, bodegas, and a courthouse. So explains a cheery Southern angel (Marie Stewart Harmon), a jury member in the high-profile trial of Judas (Phoenix editor Nick Schroeder), infamous betrayer of Jesus. Among key jurisprudential questions, in Stephen Adly Guirgis’s The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, are who deserves forgiveness, and who has grounds to bestow it. Stacey Koloski directs a nervy,…

Wantonness and Buffoonery: Lyric's Spring Awakening

When it comes to understanding sexuality, abuse, abortion, and suicide, the nineteenth-century German youth of Spring Awakening are on their own. Wendla (Rachel Friedman) can’t get her mom to explain sex. Precocious Melchior (Eric Berry-Sandelin) critiques “parentalism” and tries to imagine the female orgasm. Moritz (Jake Boyce) agonizes over why he dreams of women’s stockings. We follow the trials of these and other teens in Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater’s acclaimed rock-musical, a remake of Frank…

No, You're the Puppet!: Shoestring's Magical Peter Pan

Remember Peter Pan, the boy who refused to grow up? These days, the premise might seem a little less magical and a little more distressingly non-fictional. Leave it to Shoestring Theater, and its cheerfully anarchic puppet antics, to update and upend J. M. Barrie’s classic. Shoestring’s new Peter Pan, adapted and directed by Nance Parker, runs this Friday and Saturday, as the feature of Mayo Street Arts’ Puppet Cabaret, which opens with the Bad Puppys’…

Up for Babs: Dustin Tucker Soars in Buyer & Cellar

The story of Buyer & Cellar is a work of fiction, its narrator assures us right off the bat, but its bizarre central premise is true: Barbra Streisand designed and built a period 19th-century shopping mall in her Malibu basement. Buyer & Cellar proceeds from playwright Jonathan Tolins’s improbable thought experiment: What if Barbra hired someone to “run” the “shops”? That someone is Alex, a snarky underemployed actor. The pricelessly funny Dustin Tucker plays him…

Power Play: DRC's Sex-Obsessed Venus in Fur

“Whatever happened to femininity?” writer-director Thomas (Joe Bearor) complains in his audition room. Poor Thomas can’t find a single actress smart, sensual, and powerfully feminine enough to play the lead in his new show, Venus in Fur, which he’s adapted from the 1870 book that inspired the term “masochism.” And things don’t look any better when crass, slaphappy, unsophisticated Vanda (Casey Turner) shows up. But audition she does, to unexpected ends, in David Ives’s Venus…

Unromantic Squabbling Actually Quite Hot in George Bernard Shaw Classic

Just how sweet and honorable is it to go to die for one’s country? George Bernard Shaw looked askance at such romantic notions in Arms and the Man, which tells of how war-dazzled young Raina falls for enemy soldier Captain Bluntschli, a jaded, pragmatic soldier-for-hire. Pie Man Theatre Company presents the classic comedy at Mayo Street Arts, under the direction of Stephanie Ross. Staged intimately in the round, the show opens in the bedroom of…
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