Theater Review

Stoking The Fire!

The Fire This Time: Season 9: 10-Minute Play Festival
Directed by Candis C. Jones
Presented by FRIGID New York and Horse Trade Theater at the Kraine Theater, NYC
January 15-28, 2018

The consistently excellent The Fire This Time Festival, which features new plays from artists of African descent, is in its ninth season. Among its schedule of readings and performances, the 10-Minute Play Festival is a consistent highlight, and this year's is no exception. Showcasing the work of six playwrights and directed by Candis C. Jones, the festival, performed by a skillful cast to an enthusiastic packed house on the night that we attended, engages a range of topics and tones that nonetheless echo and resonate with one another, creating a whole that is intriguing, affecting, and entertaining right through the curtain call.

Bless The Weather

The Snow Queen
Written by Matt Opatrny
Directed by Jessica Burr
Presented by Blessed Unrest at New Ohio Theatre, NYC
December 31, 2017-January 14, 2018

It seems fitting that The Snow Queen opened against the backdrop of New York's most frigid New Year's Eve in decades. Luckily, it deserves a very warm reception. Developed with the aid of a residency at the New Victory Theater and the advice of a class of fourth-graders, The Snow Queen entertainingly adapts Hans Christian Andersen's 19th-century tale, to which it adheres fairly closely in its major events while refocusing a few of its key elements, including the symbolic subtext of its central characters' journeys. The final product is a delightful balance of comedy, adventure, and just a tinge of melancholy.

Getting AMPed!

AMP
Written and performed by Jody Christopherson
Directed by Isaac James Byrne
Presented by Goode Productions at HERE, NYC
December 5-19, 2017

Imagine, if you will, a frog’s legs, ending abruptly not in a frog but merely in its spine, carefully cleaned of the flesh that once held it. Next, multiply this image, and picture a chain of these macabre trinkets strung out in an elevated location. Finally, conjure in your mind’s eye a lightning strike that sets those legs twitching and jerking of their own accord. This is the one of the first images with which Jody Christopherson’s new play, AMP, confronts the audience, plunging us into a nineteenth-century stew of galvanism, resurrection men, and tragedy-tinged literary legends.

Pericles: Born in a Tempest

Pericles: Born in a Tempest
Conceived and directed by Jordan Reeves
Presented by Hunger and Thirst Theatre with the Guerrilla Shakespeare Project at the West End Theatre, NYC
November 2-18, 2017

If you have ever dreamed of watching Batman fight in the midst of a Shakespeare production, now is your chance to make that fantasy a reality. How fantasy in the form of storytelling (Batman included) intertwines with our lived realities partly drives Jordan Reeves' imaginative adaptation of Shakespeare's Pericles. Reeves' Pericles: Born in a Tempest both streamlines the sprawling original and weaves in a modern framing narrative in which the Shakespearean text becomes a book, The True Tales of Pericles, given to a woman by her recently deceased father. Of course, Shakespeare, arguably with a collaborator, was himself adapting a well-known medieval romance, the tale of Apollonius of Tyre, primarily the version set down by John Gower in his fourteenth-century Confessio Amantis; and this tale in turn likely derives from a classical Greek source. From this perspective, Reeves' version of Pericles acts as the latest example of how the same story can persist and change over centuries to meet the needs of its readers and audiences. 

From Mecca With Love

The Mecca Tales
Written by Rohina Malik
Directed by Kareem Famhy
Presented by Voyage Theater Company and Crossroads Theatre Company at The Sheen Center, NYC  
October 20-November 4, 2017

The Hajj, the pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca, is the largest yearly gathering of people in the world, attracting two to three million pilgrims. A pillar of Islam, the Hajj provides the setting and structure for Rohina Malik's The Mecca Tales, which premiered in Chicago in 2015 and is now making its debut in New York. Its tales are those of five women whose progress along the road to Mecca also marks their difficult progress towards self-determination. 

Free, Form, Five

Free, Form, Five
Curated by D. Dominick Lombardi
Olga Wimmer PCC, NYC
Oct. 7 - Nov. 18, 2017

Elga Wimmer PCC presents "Free, Form, Five," a group exhibition curated by D. Dominick Lombardi, which explores abstract and semi-abstract themes with human and natural references that extend into metaphoric terrain. The exhibition includes photographer Sandra Gottlieb, Sharon Kagan, Bobbie Moline-Kramer, Rebecca Calderón Pittman and Susan Sommer. The artists use with vigor and assurance platforms that incorporate complex processes and aggregate techniques. Pittman's works probe the oblique role of chance in consciousness; the psychological influences of attraction and aversion interest Moline-Kramer. Kagan explores the microcosmic roots of matter while Gottlieb brings the firmament into focus. Susan Sommer records the rhythms of desire in daily existence. While Moline-Kramer, Pittman and Kagan enhance their practices with distinctive procedures, Gottlieb uses specialized equipment, and Sommer mixes her motifs to achieve a sense of depth and relevance that is becoming the exception rather than the rule in contemporary art.