Jacques Brel’s Lonesome Losers of the Night – 2017

Sitting at the back of No Exit Café, hearing the play of the piano within the dim room as the singers breathed life into sentiments older than myself, I caught a glimpse of an old world that was once new and fresh—a world, one imagines, in which the patrons of this “shabby waterfront bar” made love to their glasses as passionately as they made love to their women—as passionately as they rode and communed w

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King Ubu

Things are looking pretty swell for King Ubu after the revolution, but once he begins extorting taxes from his citizens and killing off all contenders to his authority, Baseboard flees to Russia to enlist the help of the czar. War breaks out against the two countries, and the Russians and Fols meet upon a hill for a standoff in which soldiers portrayed by life-sized puppets flood the stage. The whole war sequence seems to last forever (in a good way)—until an immense stuffed bear charges in and nearly ends Ubu’s existence. He escapes, but his crown is lost and he and the missus must sail away into exile.

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Emilie: La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight

In direct-address to the audience, Emilie introduces the notable figures in her life, narrates some events, and introduces other events as scenes in which she and the others act out the “drama.” “Drama” gets scare-quotes here because what drama there is often gets choked by the narrative framing. Apart from a few surprising scenes of real emotional vehemence, the scenes of drama that pop up mostly come across as simple banter or conversations between characters who feel more like ideas of historical figures than real humans: in other words, they have no psychological depth.

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Her Majesty’s Will

The press release describes this production as “An irreverent comedy that imagines Shakespeare’s ‘lost years’”—the years for which we lack historical record of his life and activities—“as a rousing romp through the streets and across the stages of Elizabethan London.” To that, I chuckle. “Romp” is fitting, but surely “irreverent” is a misnomer: something so inane and infantile cannot possibly bear the prestige of “the irreverent.” We must hold to some standards.

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The Night Season by Strawdog Theatre

The Night Season. An ensemble play I would describe as more about loneliness than love, The Night Season is an experiential success insofar as it offers the same disappointment of loneliness by not only conveying loneliness’s disappointment through its characters but also by leaving its audience disappointed at its end—all this despite its sentimental conclusion in which many characters actually find love.

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Three Days of Rain at BoHo Theatre

With six roles and three actors, a lot no doubt rides on the actors’ performative skills. The first act felt rocky, in that I found it difficult to identify the “real” characters behind their attitudes: Ned is high-strung and rambles; Nan is quiet and brooding; and Pip is chummy and smiling. And while the conflict eventually brings out other depths in Nan and Pip, it felt a little too late for me to care; and Ned was never clarified, or redeemed for that matter, for me.

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Things to Ruin: The Songs of Joe Iconis

Wikipedia would have us believe Things to Ruin is “A rock concert about young people hell bent on destruction and creation,” but it’s unlikely Wikipedia saw the production I did. For me, at its worst Things to Ruin is about a group of former high school theatre nerds (I use the term affectionately), now grown into struggling actors and wayward young adults, who hang around a bar exorcising the ghosts of their Emo years while bemoaning the failures of their present. At its best, the show sometimes manages to transcend the hallmark sound of musical theatre, relay a sentiment not entirely infantile, and actually land in genre (though typically it does not stray far from the roots of Rock). At its best, Things to Ruin is very good; at its worst, it’s mawkishly sentimental. The good news: it’s more often at its best.

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Into the Empty Sky

The stand-out performances, I noted, were experienced Trap-Dôrsists Halie Ecker, Marzena Bukowska, and Kelsey Rhiann Shipley: their presence had that sine qua non quality—in their physical movements; the credulity in their eyes; and, most especially, the expressive skill of their voices that transcended the “poetry” of the poetry to communicate its meaning clearly (cf. a coherent Shakespearian actress).

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We’re Gonna Die

In 60 minutes we hear about a peculiar older man lulling himself to sleep with the phrase, “I’m a piece of shit” (the most intriguing story of the night); we hear how childhood friendships can sadly end spontaneously without any reason; we hear the advice of a grandmother who talks about growing old, losing one’s mind, and seeing everyone you know die; and we hear even more advice from a 30-something divorcée (whose ex was scum) who consoles our Singer with the knowledge that someday we will die, the pain will end, and someone will cry for us. Surely some weighty stuff.

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Tight End

In small town, Midwest, USA, football is based on tradition, on which then legend itself is built: just ask Ash’s late father, whose name became legend and his story myth after he beat the town’s rival football team during Homecoming so many years ago. Ash Miller (Bryce Saxon) wishes to live that legend—or, rather, she only wishes to play the sport she loves with the same hustle and success as her father—but as herself, regarded as her own person.

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