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Photo: Joshua Bright

OFF-BROADWAY REVIEW: The Undertaking

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September 22, 2016: What’s your greatest fear? If you’re a normal, neurotic New Yorker, it’s probably the big inevitable: death. Some theatrical therapy for this eternal anxiety, the nagging 4-in-the-morning jitters about — poof! — not being around anymore, can be found in “The Undertaking,” the thought-provoking new project from the Civilians. Written and directed by Steve Cosson, in collaboration with Jessica Mitrani, the show is being presented through Sunday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Fishman Space as part of the Next Wave Festival. Morbidly funny, and sometimes just plain morbid, the show is constructed like many Civilians productions, as a collage of testimonials drawn from interviews with real people, in this case people with a particular point of view on, or relationship with, mortality.

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OFF-BROADWAY REVIEW: Bathing in Moonlight

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September 19, 2016: A Roman Catholic priest faces what might be called a crisis of humanity, rather than a crisis of faith, in “Bathing in Moonlight,” the gauzy new play from Nilo Cruz, which is having its premiere here at the McCarter Theater Center, where Mr. Cruz’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Anna in the Tropics” was also presented before moving to Broadway. Raúl Méndez plays Father Monroe, a priest who starts things off with a sermon, addressed to the audience, in which he shares an anecdote about a priest during World War II who expanded the boundaries of his church’s cemetery to include the grave of a soldier whose faith was unclear. “God wants us to remove barriers and walls,” Father Monroe says. “God wants us to extend the perimeters.”

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BROADWAY REVIEW: Black to the Future

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September 20, 2016: During 20 years’ worth of guest appearances on “The Daily Show,” Lewis Black has gone through many moods: incensed, seething, irate, furious, aggrieved, annoyed. All right, not that many moods, then. At his quietest, he appears to be struggling to hold back another choleric eruption. But the dyspeptic persona Mr. Black deploys in his full-length act is less in-your-face intense. In his latest performance, “Black to the Future” (Mondays at the Marquis Theater, when the musical “On Your Feet!” is dark), the comedian works in a key even lower than that of his last couple of shows, 2013’s “Old Yeller” and 2012’s “In God We Rust.”

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OFF-BROADWAY REVIEW: What Did You Expect?

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September 18, 2016: The Gabriels are as worried as you are. As one of them says, with a matter-of-factness that suggests long and weary acquaintance with a troublesome state of being, “People are scared. Everyone I know is scared.” Sometimes, though, there’s blessed comfort in being with people who share your anxieties. Even if — or perhaps especially if — what’s on their minds is one of the last things they talk about directly. Watching “What Did You Expect?” at the Public Theater, you’re always aware of what characters, caught in the middle of a presidential election that seems almost too surreal and too important for words, are thinking. And you can tell how those thoughts inform every joke, sigh and anecdote that comes out of their mouths.

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OFF-BROADWAY REVIEW: The Birds

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September 15, 2016: For a vast and aggressive army of homicidal eye-gougers, the title creatures of Conor McPherson’s “The Birds” are a surprisingly low-key lot. The sounds of beating wings and rasping caws can now and then be heard, accompanied by abstract feathery projections, in the listless production that opened on Thursday night at 59E59 Theaters. But for the most part, you forget that these avian marauders are always hovering with intent to kill. You have to take on faith their status as an imminent and fatal threat to humanity.

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OFF-BROADWAY REVIEW: Phaedra(s)

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September 15, 2016: Worst theater director’s idea ever? Maybe bringing onstage a large, high-resolution flat-screen television, on which is projected, multiple times, the shower scene from “Psycho.” I am by no means a worshiper at the altar of Alfred Hitchcock. Nonetheless, when that television screen slid onstage in “Phaedra(s),” a stultifying gloss on the story of the legendary Greek queen with an unfortunate love life, which can be endured — oh, sorry, seen — at the Brooklyn Academy of Music through Sunday, I became instantly transfixed. Here, at least, was vivid proof of a cogent directorial mind at work. Never before had I absorbed in such detail the brilliance of Hitchcock’s shot-making in this most celebrated scene of violence.

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