Wilderness is a thicket of good intentions and overstatement

Studio 58 is producing Wilderness.

Playing Cole, Nolan McConnell-Fidyk understands the strength delivering his lines like a person, not an actor.

This production makes a weak script worse.

The subject matters. Wilderness is about young adults who are struggling with mental health issues, including addictions. Against the young people’s will, in many cases, their parents have sent them to a therapeutic camp in the Utah wilderness.

Playwrights Seth Bockley and Anne Hamburger—the latter sent her son to a wilderness camp—developed their script based on interviews with other families who have firsthand experience. But the results are choppy. With multiple characters and two timeframes, the script contains very few sustained scenes and precious little narrative development. Characters often stand and spew the content of their interviews, and the result feels more like disjointed reportage than compelling theatre. [Read more…]

As You Like It: Is Shakespeare’s comedy the right vehicle for a meditation on the refugee crisis?

Michael Scholar Jr.'s As You Like It draws inspiration from the refugee crisis.

Playing Orlando in As You Like It, William Edward serves notice that he is an actor to be watched.

There’s a lot going on. And a bunch of it works.

In setting As You Like It, Shakespeare’s comedy about banishment, director Michael Scholar Jr. draws inspiration from the global refugee crisis. The combination isn’t always a good fit, but it does result in the creation of a multi-textured, sometimes surprising world. [Read more…]

At Studio 58, Angels in America is angelic

Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches, Studio 58, Prior Walter, Julien Galipeau

Prior Walter (Julien Galipeau) slaps on some lips. Pro tip: next time, apply your rouge under your cheekbones, not on them.

Yesterday, I saw the last performance in Studio 58’s run of Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches. Because the show is over, this isn’t really a review; it’s more of a shout out to some outstanding talent.

Let’s not forget what a work of genius Tony Kushner’s script is: Kushner’s examination of American culture and politics through the lens of the AIDS crisis is monumentally original—smart, moving, and hilarious. Congratulations to Studio 58 for producing it.

Rachel Peake’s excellent production featured a fantastically innovative set from Drew Facey: otherworldly figures spun around two parabolic walls on casters, revealing an endless succession of new scenes.

Elizabeth Barrett (Harper, a valium-addicted Mormon woman who is married to a gay man) and Julien Galipeau (Prior Walter, who has AIDS) ripped my heart out. Barrett’s performance was a fantastic combination of the understated and surprising. And Galipeau was heartbreakingly skinless. I can’t wait to see what these two are going to do next.

Yay!