The Merchant of Venice presented by Theatre Breaking Through Barriers
Interpretation is the sincerest form of flattery. Any William Shakespeare work can attest to that. From the earliest performance to the most current production, Shakespeare’s plays have been the outlines of beautiful caricatures that avid crayon-holders have colored. Theatre Breaking Through Barrier’s production of Merchant of Venice takes their 64-pack and colors outside the lines. The seven actors, who each play three or more roles, complement each other on the stage. Their multiple roles are never at the peril of being interchangeable as each interaction solidifies the flexibility of the actors to maintain not only the roles they are currently playing, but their fellow actors’ as well. Merchant of Venice is a tale of trickery, wit and justice – still with the anti-Semitic overtones that it is known for, but does not manifest in this production.
Pamela Sabaugh plays Portia, Launcelot Gobbo and Sal; she oscillates between the lovely Portia, whose suitors must choose the correct box to win her hand in marriage, and the bumbling Launcelot Gobbo, the son of an old sailor, with impressively smooth transitions. Melanie Boland, who plays Antonio, Tubal and Sal, goes about her roles with a tender masculinity that arrests you with her ability to play all-male characters but reminds you that she is still a woman underneath it all. [click to continue….]
The full cast of How I Learned to Drive. (Photo Credit: Second Stage Theatre.)
Most stories about star-crossed lovers begin with two individuals from contrasting backgrounds; they escalate with disconcerting external battles, progress with a “love that conquers all” and end with either tragedy or triumph. In the Pulitzer Prize winning play How I Learned to Drive by Paula Vogel, we see the trials and tribulations of a pair of such “star-crossed lovers” caught in an entirely taboo relationship in an all too common setting: the American suburb. The current revival, directed by Kate Whoriskey and presented at Second Stage Theatre, is brought to life by the superb Norbert Leo Butz as the pedophilic uncle of Lil’ Bit, played by the endearing Elizabeth Reaser. Vogel explores the roots of the relationship between the naïve teenager and her infatuated uncle, submerging us into their troubling relationship masked with “driving lessons.” The tale is reminiscent of Lolita, a classic infamous for encompassing the same themes that this play dared to explore: pedophilia, incest, and the loss of innocence.
But rest assured; there are comedic moments. [click to continue….]
Top: Tim Cook and Steve Jobs; photo credit to James Martin/CNET. Bottom: Mike Daisey at the Public Theater; photo credit to Mike Daisey.
[Editors' Note: This letter to Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, is one of several written by participants in the Fall 2011 Theater Teen Reviewers and Critics program after attending a performance of THE AGONY AND ECSTASY OF STEVE JOBS at the Public Theater. At the end of Mike's Daisey's solo performance, fliers are distributed with information about the labor practices he discusses in the show, along with Tim Cook's email address and a call to action. Mr. Daisey suggested emailing Mr. Cook with concerns. He politely asks that you do not send SPAM. We obliged, and decided to publish them as open letters as well.]
Dear Mr. Tim Cook,
I am not a Mac. Nor am I a PC. I am what most would call “old-fashioned” – so my bias stems from there. But that is also where my objectivity rests. [click to continue….]
Xi Yan (Jennifer Lim), Daniel Cavanaugh (Gary Wilmes) and Cai Guoliang (Larry Lei Zhang) on stage. Photo Credit: Peter James Zielinski.
Communication is key to human advancement. We descend into the world of progress with language and hope for the best results. In “Chinglish”, written by Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang and directed by Leigh Silverman at the Longacre Theater, we are submerged into situations that call for progress while dealing with the roadblocks of language barriers. Set in modern-day China, Chinglish explores the difficulties that an American businessman, Daniel Cavanaugh (Gary Wilmes), has to face while trying to get a Chinese Minister, Cai Guoliang (Larry Zhang) to accept his business proposal to translate Chinese signs into proper English, work through his suspicions with his enthusiastic translator, British Peter Timms (Stephen Pucci) and potentially have an unconventional fling with Vice Minister Xu Yan (Jennifer Lin). [click to continue….]