Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged play


Tom Stoppard’s 1988 espionage thriller, Hapgood, addresses the insanity of the Cold War by zooming in on a band of British spies. Alongside the CIA, the group engages in crosses and double-crosses, the end result being little more than a game of chicken. Led by Mrs. Elizabeth Hapgood, AKA Betty, AKA Mother--played by actor Elise Stone with a perfect mix of sass and sadness—the reconnaissance team’s efforts are a showcase for three distinct plot lines: The juggling of employment and child rearing responsibilities for single mothers; the temptation of forbidden love; and the competitive race for scientific knowledge between the “free world” and the Communist bloc. While the first two themes are presented with straightforward punch, the latter is muddled, perhaps emblematic of the Cold War itself. As Hapgood says near the denouement of the play, “It’s them or us. We’re keeping each other in business. We should send each other Christmas cards.”

In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play (8/29/2010)

“Please turn off anything that beeps, buzzes, or vibrates.” And with that comic admonishment to the audience, Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer Sarah Ruhl’s play about the advent of vibrators began. The setting is Dr. Givings home, where his living room is located next to, and within earshot of, the “surgical theater.” Here, Dr. Givings (played by Eric Hissom) treats hysteria, a “medical ailment” dating back to about 300 BC, when Hippocrates thought women’s madness stemmed from their womb.

Black Pearl Sings! (6/18/2010)

With their current production, Black Pearl Sings!, InterAct Theatre brings a powerful story to the Mainstage of Philadelphia’s Adrienne. The intimate performance space, where third row is a mere six feet from the floor-level stage, helps one feel immersed in the story. Written by Frank Higgins and directed by Seth Rozin, the two-act play stars C. Kelly Wright as Alberta “Pearl” Johnson and Catharine K. Slusar as Susannah Mullally.

Love Goes to Press: A Comedy in Three Acts

It's impossible to dislike a female protagonist who opines, fifteen miles south of the Italian front in the second-to-last year of World War II, "If there's anything I really loathe, it's a woman protector." Delivered by Annabelle Jones, war correspondent for the San Francisco World, in conversation with Jane Mason, war correspondent for the New York Bulletin, this line refers to one of the many well-meaning men who are the butts of the jokes in the play Love Goes to Press.

Silence Not, A Love Story

Everyone loves a love story, especially one with a happy ending, and award-winning playwright and journalist Cynthia L. Cooper’s latest play, a forty-four-scene two-act, is a whopper. Silence Not, A Love Story tells the improbable tale—based on a true story—of Gisa Peiper, a young Jewish student stifled by religious Orthodoxy, and Paul Konopka, a Catholic craftsman, who met in late-1920s Germany while working with the anti-fascist International Socialist Combat League, known as the ISK.

The Clean House 7/10 - 8/17/2008

Sarah Ruhl's play The Clean House opens with Mathilde, a Brazilian housekeeper, telling a long and very funny joke - in Portuguese. I don't understand Portuguese, and I doubt very few of my fellow audience members in Austin, TX did, either. Luckily, Mathilde's self-induced laughter, gestures, and a summary translation projected for the audience onto a screen make it easy to get the gist. The joke is dirty, and it's hilarious. Mathilde goes on to tell the story of her parents: They were in love, and they made each other laugh.

I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me By a Young Lady From Rwanda (4/13/2008)

I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me By a Young Lady From Rwanda is an amazing two-person play set in London, England in the modern day. It chronicles one Rwandan refugee’s struggle to write about what happened to her in 1994, and the Englishman who helps her. While living in England, Juliette (Susan Hayward) meets an aging poet, Simon (Joseph J. Menino), who works at the refugee center part-time. She comes to him for help in getting her book about the Rwandan genocide published.