Buyer & Cellar

Scott Gryder in ‘Buyer & Cellar.’ (Photo: Heather Mall)

“Directed by Jeff Award-winning actor Donterrio Johnson (Judas Iscariot in Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre’s Jesus Christ Superstar)Buyer & Cellar taps into our culture’s self-hating obsession with the one percent, creating a preposterous setup that still somehow rings plausibly true.

Set in a basement curio shop, it’s here we find Alex More, (Mr. Gryder), an underemployed L.A. actor who’s taken an unusual job. He’s been hired to manage the pre-fabricated mall in the nether regions of Barbra Streisand’s Malibu estate, running the frozen yogurt machine and dusting the dolls, among other mundane tasks. The mall’s only customer is Babs herself, in need of periodic “normalcy.” And the single employee in Ms. Streisand’s land of make-believe is Alex.

The work’s title muses on the multiple meanings of ‘buyer/buying’ and ‘cellar/selling.’ For in two senses, Alex and Barbra are engaging in transactions with one another. By creditably creating a pedestrian experience for the lonely rich woman who has everything, Alex is selling Barbra more than her own goods, even as he willfully purchases the fantasy of theirs as a sustainable friendship of equals. In the cellar, Barbra Streisand walks through the souvenirs of her storied career with Alex and indulges safe opportunity to be vulnerable. The dynamic is complex and intriguing.”

Read the full review on The Broadway Blog.

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Acknowledging Climate Change is Political, But the Media Shouldn’t Play Along

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“With more than 18 months to go before the 2020 American Presidential election, it’s never too soon to bemoan the media’s failure to learn lessons from its compromised 2016 campaign coverage. False equivalence is alive and well on the Internet and television airwaves. President Trump and his den of incompetents, thieves and hooligans flog Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and her hotly contested remarks (we don’t need to repeat them here), cynically splicing 9/11 news coverage with her words to gin up the ignorant, misogynist, white supremacist base. Propaganda at its most rudimentary and apparently effective.

Meanwhile, the current Leader of the Free World lets his racist flag fly unabashed, creating white nationalist policies stemming from personal hatred, and we’re all supposed to pretend this is normal.  The mainstream media acts as a full co-conspirator in this national gas lighting…

Another hot bed of derelict media both siderism can be found on the topic of climate change. The Green New Deal championed by the far left is “unaffordable” and it seems, more impractical than the rapid destruction of the planet and the life found upon it.  SMH, you silly, hippie kids today.

But the President claims that wind turbines cause cancer and deregulates the fossil fuel industry with abandon, and the media asks, Will President Donald Trump’s new climate change panel give him good advice?

In a word, no.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

White Male Candidates (Of Course) Takeover 2020 Democratic Conversation

“When experienced female candidates like Warren, Harris and Gillibrand offer themselves to voters as credible national leaders, almost immediately comes the ‘likeability’ crisis. Women, as they do in most other areas of public and civil life, fare better in the abstract – and maddeningly the gender of the judge seems to make little difference. Our nation’s political misogyny is so entrenched, it can make one incongruously resentful.

I like Mayor Pete and Beto O’Rourke. Not however, when their zeitgeist presence serves to marginalize female candidates more than worthy of public and private attention. We still have more than enough time to cut the crap and learn from our 2016 mistakes, America.

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Afterglow

(l to r) Jacob Barnes, Jesse Montoya and Rich Holton in ‘Afterglow.’ ( Photo: Heather Mall)

“Mr. Gelman’s 2017 Off-Broadway hit delivers a rather common romantic cautionary tale, arising from a sexually titillating setup. Polyamory (having intimate relationships with more than one partner) underpins a plot revolving around appetites, emotional maturity and the complexities of modern fidelity. The playwright, however, inverts the typical trajectory of a three-way, love-gone-wrong story, starting with what might normally be the end game.

As the curtain lifts, married lovers and expectant parents Alex (Jacob Barnes) and Josh (Rich Holton) are comfortable with their open relationship. Weekend trick Darius (Jesse James Montoya) is just another fling… until he isn’t. The three characters enjoy mutual pleasure and an unspoken understanding that the intimacy ends when the evening does. But the rapacious Josh decides he wants more.

It’s easy to view Josh, a successful stage actor and primary source of financial support for all three men, as an entitled child deferring adulthood. Yet I suspect that in the hands of a more nuanced performer, he’d be more complex than flopping hair and whiny pleading for unearned empathy. The character’s crisis of commitment and responsibility is 10 years ahead of schedule, yet Mr. Holton’s interpretation looks backward. I found myself hoping that Alex and Darius would fall in love and leave Josh behind. Mr. Holton’s rendering of the lead — chiseled glutes aside — is simply too grating to yield any level of devotion and forgiveness.”

Read the full review on the Broadway Blog.

My Name is Rachel Corrie

Halie Robinson in Jacaranda Collective’s ‘My Name is Rachel Corrie.’ (Photo: Zeke Dolezalek)

“Jacaranda Collective leaves a good first impression on the Chicago theater community with the company’s debut production of My Name is Rachel Corrie, currently onstage at The Den Theatre.

Directed by Sam Bianchini, who also serves as Jacaranda’s Artistic Director, it’s immediately apparent that the company and its work are devoted to intimacy, passion and truth. Ms. Bianchini herself seated audience members in The Den Theatre’s third-floor studio space during last weekend’s press opening and graciously thanked all for coming.

It was not, however, Ms. Bianchini’s excellent manners and hospitality that left an indelible impression on this critic and her companion. Rather it was the material and the one-woman tour de force that is Hailie Robinson, playing the titular Rachel. With minimalist staging and few props except scattered books, journals and articles of clothing, Ms. Robinson tells the true, transcontinental story of a creative young woman from the West Coast who sacrifices herself in service of broader social justice and human dignity.”

Read the full post on The Broadway Blog.

Sweat

(l to r) Kirsten Fitzgerald, Keith Kupferer and Tyla Abercrumbie in ‘Sweat.’ (Photo: Liz Lauren)

“In 2000, the United States had not felt the full pain of NAFTA and its crippling of the blue collar workforce. We had yet to experience the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the dot com bust, a housing market implosion and an ensuing, not coincidental spike in opioid addiction that followed these events.

By 2008, we had waved goodbye to Clinton’s budget surpluses, years of relative international peace and the promise of economic stability for those willing to work hard and pay their union dues. The methodical union busting that swept through American industries following NAFTA’s passage drives much of the action in Ms. Nottage’s electric script.

Veteran Ron OJ Parsons returns to direct Goodman Theatre’s rendering of Sweat. The story examines the lives of two generations of friends in a Pennsylvanian Rust Belt town just before, during and after everything about the community’s economic rubric changes. Where generations of residents once moved from high school graduation to factory floor, guaranteeing good wages, a pension and ability to provide for their families, NATFA demanded the acceptance of a new paradigm. Relocated production and the undercutting of worker bargaining which had driven the expansion of the middle class since the end of World War II became the new normal. Opportunities and bank accounts shrank while the temptation to scapegoat “others” (typically immigrants and Americans with brown skin) proved irresistible.”

Click here to the read the full review on The Broadway Blog.

Rachel Maddow: Thank You for Covering Scott Lloyd (A Plea to Mainstream Media)

“Last night on her eponymous television show, Dr. Maddow showed viewers a spreadsheet maintained by the Trump administration’s Office of Refugee Resettlement. This benignly named civil liberties chop shop is led by a renowned anti-abortion activist with zero previous experience working with immigrant populations.

Scott Lloyd was called before Congress in February to testify about his office’s handling of child separations at the border and irreparable harm they have on the most vulnerable. In a new report, Maddow and her staff drew attention to Lloyd’s creepiest production to date, a document which tracks the pregnancies of unaccompanied minor girls with a singular goal of blocking requests to terminate them. The 28-page spreadsheet contains the names and sensitive personal information of underage rape victims, with an explicit intent to control their invaded bodies further, denying them the health care access guaranteed by the Constitution and the Supreme Court for ALL women within U.S. borders. The committed Catholic is an ungodly man of immeasurable overreach and dehumanizing cruelty.

The multi-faceted immigration horror stories being written by the Trump administration, its political appointees and a militarized ICE warrant relentless media coverage with moral clarity. What’s happening to children on our watch requires more from an admittedly overtaxed and personally threatened profession. Bi-partisan ratings appeal is a figment of the media landscape’s imagination, and has been for some decades. We have a responsibility to inform the public. Let’s follow the lead of journalists like LeTourneau and Maddow and tell the truth.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.