Thursday, April 11, 2024

Hear “English” in a New Way at ArtsWest

Almost full cast of English at Artswest (John McLellan)
ArtsWest and Seda Iranian Theatre Ensemble
Through April 28, 2024
In a classroom in Karaj, Iran, in the year 2008, four students are learning English in hopes of passing the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), a test that might open the door to them for many opportunities, including visas to the United States. This quickly moving, non-stop play, directed by Naghmeh Samini, unfolds their stories and their challenges and even their emotional responses to learning the language itself.
Omid (Emon Elboudwarej) turns out to already have an American visa, and partly grew up in the U.S. speaking Americanized English. He is close to being able to gain a green card. When the classmates find out, they are both jealous and outraged, feeling like he shouldn’t even be in class with them if he can speak so well. But he has his reasons.
Goli (Newsha Farahani) loves learning languages. At 18, she’s not sure how she’ll put English to use, but is sure it will come in handy. Roya (Janet Hayatshahi) has a born-in-America granddaughter and her son is pushing her to speak only English to his child. She feels like she has no choice, but wishes she could let her granddaughter hear the poetry and history of her son’s native tongue.

Saturday, April 06, 2024

Spring Blossoms in Seattle Area Theater

Duygu Erdogan Monson and Akul Sood in ReAct Theatre's Animals Out of Paper (David Hsieh)
Highly anticipated regional premiere productions come to stages along with other innovative offerings. Take a look and get out yer calenders!
English, ArtsWest and Seda Iranian Theatre Ensemble, 4/4-28/24
Two words set in motion award-winning playwright Sanaz Toossi’s intricate play: “English Only.” This is the mantra that rules one classroom in Iran, where four adult students are preparing for the TOEFL — the Test of English as a Foreign Language. Chasing fluency through a maze of word games, listening exercises, and show-and-tell sessions, they hope that one day, English will help their futures. But it might be splitting them each in half.
Gunmetal Blues, Key City Public Theatre, 4/4-28/24
Is this musical a hard-boiled detective tale disguised as a lounge act- or the other way around? Direct from the Red Eye Lounge, Buddy Toupee tickles the ivories in a double-dealing world of rain-slicked streets and demolished dreams.
Death By Design, The Phoenix Theatre, 4/5-28/24
In a weekend in an English country manor in 1932, Death by Design is a hilarious, delightful and mysterious mash-up of two of the greatest English writers of all time. Edward Bennett, a playwright, and his wife, Sorel Bennett, an actress, flee London and head to Cookham after a disastrous opening night.

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Smart, Modern "Trick" Plays Out Shakespeare’s "All’s Well That Ends Well"

Rachel Guyer-Mafune, Libby Barnard
and Sophia Franzella in The Bed Trick (Giao Nguyen)
The Bed Trick
Seattle Shakespeare Company
Seattle Center Armory Theatre
Through April 7, 2024
Starting from Shakespeare’s troublesome trickery in All’s Well That Ends Well, where two women switch places in the dark to bed a man who doesn’t realize it, playwright Keiko Green fashions a modern dive into what we think of the “trick” now.
Sure, folks in Shakespeare’s time might have looked at it very differently. Women had little agency or choices about who they married or how their lives would go. But when a company puts on Shakespeare’s plays now, shouldn’t they take a minute to evaluate what our society values are at this moment?
Green has performed on many Seattle area stages and began playwriting here, debuting several works before heading south for an MFA. It’s a privilege to be able to see a playwright’s work over time, and in this case, Green just keeps getting better! The Bed Trick dives deeply into the concept of tricking someone without consent, and also interrogates Shakespeare while blending in some beautiful passages.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Murder in the Mansion – “Something’s Afoot” Cast Is To Die For

Anne Allgood and Sarah Rudinoff in "Something's Afoot" (Mark Kitaoka)
Something’s Afoot
5th Avenue Theatre
Through March 24, 2024
Some of our town’s most iconically funny musical theater performers join together in the 5th Avenue Theatre’s production of Something’s Afoot. Anne Allgood, who I think can do anything on stage, is a past-master of the totally-serious-hysterical-delivery needed in something as campy and silly as this production.
If you are an Agatha Christie reader, you already know what happens in her book, And Then There Were None. It’s one of her most famous murder mysteries and so you may only have read this one – or heard of it. The title hints at what this evening of silliness will become.
It’s a weekend in the country (sorry, Sondheim). Guests start arriving at a mansion reached by a small land bridge, virtually all of them expecting only themselves and the mansion owner. Yet, more keep coming until there are ten guests. To their immediate surprise, the mansion owner is found shot before anyone has had the opportunity to greet him, and a storm cuts them all off from the mainland and strands them there.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

March Stages Roar To Life

Allen Fitzpatrick in Something's Afoot at the 5th Avenue Theatre (John Curry)
Seattle theater continues to roar back to life, producing as many shows this month as was usual pre-Covid! Seattle theatergoers need to continue to step up and step out to see these great shows! World premieres and early Sondheim musicals, prize-winning scripts, a horrific medical story with a happy ending – take a look and get out yer calendars and get them booked!

Sanctuary City, Seattle Rep, 3/1-31/24 (opens 3/6)
In the winter of 2001, in Newark, NJ, two teens, undocumented DREAMers-pre-DACA. meet up on the fire escape. They grapple with life's challenges, from family to their futures. She promises to him that when she becomes naturalized, she will marry him so he can receive his papers. As time passes and their relationship shifts, both must confront what they are willing to sacrifice to live freely and belong. This searing and captivating new play by Pulitzer Prize-winning Martyna Majok asks what we're willing to risk for those we love.
Something’s Afoot, 5th Avenue Theatre, 3/1-24/24 (opens 3/8)
A musical to poke fun at Agatha Christie murder mysteries; ten people are stranded in an isolated country estate during a raging thunderstorm. One by one, they are picked off by cleverly fiendish devices. As bodies pile up, the survivors frantically race to solve the mystery! Join in the tomfoolery of this farcical, raucous, and outrageous play, that will appeal to lovers of shows like Arrested Development, The Office, and Schitt’s Creek.
Ada and the Engine, Edmonds Driftwood Players, 3/1-17/24
Ada Lovelace wrote the first computer program! In 1830! Playwright Lauren Gunderson envisions a fiery, brilliant woman who sees the boundless creative potential in the “analytic engines” of her friend and soul mate Charles Babbage, inventor of the first mechanical computer. Ada envisions a whole new world where art and information converge—a world she might not live to see. A music-laced story of love, friendship, and the edgiest dreams of the future.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Don’t Forget Tickets to “Memoirs of a Forgotten Man!”

Patrick Harvey, Jon Lutyens, Sunam Ellis in Memoirs of a Forgotten Man (Annabel Clark)

Memoirs Of A Forgotten Man
Thalia’s Umbrella
At 12th Avenue Arts
Through March 9, 2024
A fascinating and brilliantly written production, Memoirs of a Forgotten Man, is now onstage at 12th Avenue Arts, by Thalia’s Umbrella. It feels like a decades-past Russian-written critique of their government, but was written by an American, D. W. Gregory, and only in 2018.
We meet Dr. Berezina (Sunam Ellis) who is trying to get her doctorate thesis approved for publication and has been called in to meet Comrade Kreplev (Jon Lutyens), but it’s on a Sunday morning – a very odd time to be meeting about this effort. Immediately, we are on edge because she is on edge. A feeling of menace and discomfort infuse every moment. What is she doing there? What is he doing there?
Kreplev practically dismisses all of her scientific effort. He demands to know information that is not present in her writings. Her focus is regarding memory and how it works. She has written about a subject of hers whom she both studied and counseled 20 years earlier. But the man has disappeared. Kreplev is most interested in him and where he has disappeared to. She is completely baffled by this.