The Last Days of Cleopatra OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Trevor Murphy
  • The Last Days of Cleopatra
  • NY TIMES

  • TM

Opening Night:
August 20, 2014
Closing:
September 7, 2014

Theater: Urban Stages / 259 W 30th St, New York, New York, 10001

Synopsis: 

The highly anticipated new play from the writer of the NY Times Critic’s pick Off-Broadway comedy hit, For Love. A roller coaster ride at the theater, action packed, visceral and provocative with themes of love, sex, forgiveness, redemption and…dancing… A father, son and daughter must struggle to redefine the heart of their family, as they are about to lose the only thing that’s holds them together. This loss might ultimately tear them apart, as this family’s tapestry begins to unravel and old hurts boil and rise to the surface. How do you prepare yourself for your worst nightmare while living in it? How do you face the big black cloud about to burst on your horizon? Maybe you could take the opportunity to put things right, say what you never had the chase to say, meant to say, and wanted to say, then you might be able to forgive… even forgive yourself? Or maybe you could dance, dancing is good, dancing in nightclubs, dancing in bedrooms, dancing in the moonlight…So common let’s dance, because how far can you let yourself go before you lose yourself altogether?

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF The Last Days of Cleopatra

    Mother’s Death Tests a Family’s Ties ‘The Last Days of Cleopatra,’ a Dark Comedy by Laoisa Sexton

    Andy Webster

    August 25, 2014: Last year, the actress-playwright Laoisa Sexton delivered a bleak, funny and flavorful take on women’s lives in recession-ravaged Dublin with her winning For Love at the Irish Repertory Theater. With The Last Days of Cleopatra, now at Urban Stages, she again depicts that city’s working class, but across genders and generations. The central event in Cleopatra is the death of Tess, the largely unseen matriarch to a fractious clan. The father, Harry (Kenneth Ryan), once a touring trumpeter, drives a cab and hangs at the pub but somewhat fancies himself a smooth operator. Though he waxes nostalgic about Tess (his “Cleopatra”), he flirts with a friend’s ex. (Kevin Marron, here in drag, inhabits small roles.) Harry’s son, Jackey (Michael Mellamphy), is a pudgy newsstand clerk obsessed with Twitter and twerking. (Harry calls him a “twinkle toes.”) Harry’s daughter, the alternately caustic and tentative Natalie (Ms. Sexton), strives for a performing career of sorts, wearing Elmo and Easter bunny costumes at children’s birthday parties and drifting uneasily into striptease.

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF The Last Days of Cleopatra

    Three sad sacks and a funeral feature in this transfer from Ireland.

    Zachary Stewart

    August 25, 2014: We all confront death eventually, some more gracefully than others. Irish playwright Laoisa Sexton offers a tale of a family clumsily stumbling through their grief in The Last Days of Cleopatra, now making its New York premiere at Urban Stages. Harry (Kenneth Ryan) is a middle-aged man living on a fixed income in suburban Dublin. His son, Jackey (Michael Mellamphy), is a convenience store clerk. His daughter, Natalie (Sexton), dresses up as TV characters (Elmo, Barney, Dora) for children's birthday parties. Their downwardly mobile existence is thrown into a tailspin when Natalie and Jackey's mother, long suffering with a debilitating illness, suddenly dies. She was the glue holding the clan together with her unique blend of '90s dance music and showtunes. "When she walked in the room you could hear the promises breakin' all around her," Harry recalls about his first encounter with his children's mother. While we never actually meet her, we get to know that she was a lovely woman. The three survivors must decide if they will persist as a family or part ways. Until the very end, the entire play is presented in direct address to the audience. Characters unload their feelings and observations onto us, sometimes two at a time. While their topics of conversation are often related, the characters are not speaking with each other. They're speaking to us. It feels like listening to a needy friend grumble nonstop about his problems: quite draining and more often than not, a little boring.

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