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Photo: Julieta Cervantes

OFF-BROADWAY REVIEW: Measure for Measure-TFANA

June 25, 2017: It’s hard to know what to do about “Measure for Measure,” the kind of play for which Shakespeare’s “problem plays” were named. It includes some of the finest moral argumentation in the canon: thrilling back-and-forths between well-matched antagonists with a great deal on the line. It also includes inane subplots, fake friars, punster tapsters and a tiresome denouement. That trade-off is never easy to negotiate, and the version of “Measure for Measure” that opened on Sunday at Theater for a New Audience, in a production by the British wunderkind director Simon Godwin, leans too heavily on the supposedly funny elements. Leaning on funny elements is almost always counterproductive.

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OFF-BROADWAY REVIEW: The Traveling Lady- Cherry Lane

June 22, 2017: Even though she’s just off the bus in Harrison, Tex., with no one to meet her and nowhere to sleep, the young woman will not answer a reasonable question from a man who might be able to help. She is Georgette Thomas, looking for a place she and her little girl can lodge until her husband, who has been absent for six years, arrives as promised to join them. The man who might help, a judge with houses to rent, naturally insists on knowing more about the husband’s mysterious absence — this is, after all, 1950, when a woman alone raises questions and eyebrows. “Don’t keep asking me where he’s been, Mr. Judge,” Georgette says uncomfortably. “I can’t tell you that.”

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BROADWAY REVIEW: 1984

June 22, 2017: In periods when the world and its inhabitants seem too vicious to bear, some people find themselves drawn magnetically to what might be called feel-bad entertainment. I mean the sort of book, song or show that massages your anxiety the way your tongue might insistently probe an abscessed tooth.

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OFF-BROADWAY REVIEW: Fulfillment Center

June 20, 2017:

Human contact is always a compromise in Fulfillment Center, Abe Koogler’s quietly shattering new play, and never a satisfactory one. The four lonely characters in this impeccably realized Manhattan Theater Club production, which opened on Tuesday night at City Center Stage II, keep brushing up against one another — tentatively and clumsily — while aching for fuller connection.

Kisses, for instance, seldom involve two willing participants, so when sets of lips meet, they don’t meld. Everyday social rituals, like having a drink or a meal together, become imbalanced exercises in which nothing is really shared.

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OFF-BROADWAY REVIEW: Ghost Light

June 19, 2017:

The glorious ghosts who walk the halls of the Claire Tow Theater at Lincoln Center have greasepaint in their ectoplasm, and they do hope you’ll like what they do. These wandering souls are doomed to an eternity of narcissism, yet there is something they love even more than themselves.

That would be the theater. And anyone who shares that obsession will want to spend the enchanted two hours in their company provided by, Ghost Light, the new immersive performance piece from Third Rail Projects, which opened with a profound and shivery sigh on Tuesday night.

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OFF-BROADWAY REVIEW: Bella: An American Tall Tale

June 12, 2017:

Tall tales are, by definition, unruly. But Kirsten Childs’s “Bella: An American Tall Tale,” a musical about the eventful travels of a wide-eyed beauty in the 1870s, sprawls in so many directions — with changes in tone to match (or mismatch) — that it collapses into inertia.

This comic picaresque, which opened on Monday night at Playwrights Horizons under the direction of Robert O’Hara, follows Bella (Ashley D. Kelley), who is celebrated in her hometown, Tupelo, Miss., for her shape. “All of her stacked proportions make a grown man scream/She cause your glasses to fog and steam,” goes a line in the opening number, “Big Booty Tupelo Gal.”

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