Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What can I see on stage in May?

The Tall Girls is being presented by Washington Ensemble Theatre (Cassandra Bell)

It’s May, it’s May, the lovely month of May, and nary a Camelot production do we see. Here’s what is coming in May:

If unique experiences are what you want in theater, then productions from Seattle Immersive Theatre might fit the bill. Their latest offering is DUMP SITE (5/1/15-6/7/15), an interactive murder investigation set in a decrepit warehouse in SoDo that incorporates live performance, film, audience participation and a sprawling art installation spread over almost seven thousand square feet of space. Dress in layers; they'll provide the flashlights.

Tilt Angel  is theater simple’s next offering (at West of Lenin 5/1-17/15). Family secrets pitch the world off-axis and a ghost transubstantiates into the garden. How else can you describe a play with music about a ghost-mom, an agoraphobic son, and a heavenly messenger with unfinished business? It opens with a plane crash.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Minimal-set "Into the Woods" satisfies simply

Cast of Into the Woods (Dan Davidson)

Into the Woods
STAGEright Theatre
(at Richard Hugo House)
Through April 25, 2015

STAGEright scheduled their production of Into the Woods at an opportune time for a small theater that has difficult limitations on reaching potential audience members. Having a new movie just out might make it easier to get people interested in an original staging. And this staging, helmed by Matt Giles, is a stripped down, essentialized (is that a word?) production: magic is imaginary anyway, isn’t it?

So everything about suspending your disbelief is just stretched a bit farther than usual, but we know how to do that, don’t we? This production is worth your stretching yourself. There are several outstanding young performers in it, quite a few making their Seattle area debut! Mallory King is not new to Seattle, having performed at the 5th Avenue and Village Theatres, but she is entrancing as Cinderella, with a terrific soprano.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

April theater comin' atcha

Bunnies at Annex Theatre (Joe Iano, photo, Evelyn DeHais, design)
April theater is punctuated with the opening of Café Nordo’s permanent location in Pioneer Square (the former location of Elliott Bay Book Company) and their newest show: Don Nordo Del Midwest with tapas, and a remount of Angry Housewives after umpteen million years at ArtsWest. (Don’t know what Angry Housewives was? You obviously haven’t been here that long.)

UMO Ensemble reprises Fail Better; Beckett Moves (April 8-26) from the Beckett Festival last year. Using a giant teeter totter , ropes and pulleys, five archetypal Beckett characters tackle love, life, death and going-on in typical Beckett fashion.

Café Nordo opens in the new, permanent location with Don Nordo Del Midwest, April 9-May 31. Chef Nordo Lefesczki tells his personal journey from soup to nuts and beyond. Through the eyes of the food writer who first discovered him, we meet his trusty sous-chef, Sancho, and witness the duels and dreams that helped shape Nordo into the brilliant megalomaniac he is today. Features a nine-course Midwestern Tapas menu, live original music, and a five glass wine flight of Spanish varietals specially selected by Nordo’s sommelier.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"Slowgirl" at SPT is slow to leave your thoughts (in a good way)

Kevin McKeon and Hannah Mootz in Slowgirl (Steven Sterne)

Seattle Public Theater
Through April 12, 2015

Some plays stay with you a long time. Such is the effect of Seattle Public Theater’s presentation of Slowgirl by Greg Pierce. The story unfolds without urgency, as 17 year-old Becky arrives in Costa Rica to visit her uncle where he lives in a remote jungle hideaway.

Becky (Hannah Mootz) has diarrhea of the mouth, motormouthing through her uncle Sterling’s reactions (Kevin McKeon) and disturbing his peace. We can tell this because everything she moves he moves back. She is very much a city girl, and when she finds out the cabin has no doors and any animal is free to enter, she’s aghast.

Over the course of the 90 minute play, we find out more about the family and the circumstances that Becky finds herself in. Becky is in trouble. A house party full of schoolmates included the "slow" girl classmate that they all make fun of. They call her, “Slowgirl,” as if it is her name.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

"Best of Enemies" is a Best of Season! Must. See.

Jeff Berryman and Faith Russell in Best of Enemies (Erik Stuhaug)

Best of Enemies
Taproot Theatre
through April 25, 2015

The dramaturg's notes in the program for Taproot's show, Best of Enemies, says, "The first scene of Best of Enemies opens in Durham, North Carolina in 1968, amidst a Ku Klux Klan celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination. As a Seattle audience in 2015, we react with horror at the violent threats and unabashed racism. That's a good response. It's healthy. But it's also easy (italics theirs)." 

That challenge is why, in the time of Ferguson protests, in the wake of Eric Garner's death due to untaxed cigarettes, this play is so important. Besides the stunningly effective craftsmanship of tiny, blink-of-an-eye scenes sketching in a full picture of the situation in Durham, it turns out that the story of a Klan leader (C.P. Ellis) and a black activist mother (Ann Atwater) becoming friends and changing Durham forever is a true one!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

"Tartuffe" at Seattle Shakes - a delightful production

Christine Marie Brown and R. Hamilton Wright (John Ulman)

Seattle Shakespeare Company
Through April 12, 2015

Seattle Shakespeare Company has mounted a production of the classic Moliere comedy, Tartuffe. It’s classic because it’s old (1664), but also because it has timeless themes of hypocrisy, faith, and taking down authority – themes Moliere loved to use in his plays.

Director Makaela Pollock relocates the play from 1600s to 1947, specifically. And then weaves in conscious and unconscious references to Golden Hollywood and early television farce. However, true to many productions that relocate the timing of a classic play, they keep the rhyming couplets of Richard Wilbur’s translation from French.