Farrow’s ‘Catch and Kill’ Draws Ire of Two Famed Rapists and their NBC Enablers

“To review and translate:

  1. Harvey Weinstein, who deployed an entire mass of enablers in service of his sexual crimes and subsequent cover-ups, is FLUMMOXED by suggestions he reached his disgusting paws into other controversies in order to spare himself.
  2. Andy Lack leads a morally pure media empire that somehow employed one of the longest-running, most rampant and overpaid beasts of prey in broadcast history. But it’s Ronan Farrow doing this disrespecting of his colleagues.
  3. Matt Lauer prizes his family relationships above all else, dammit! He’s just a lying philanderer and rapist trying to rebuild his life. Why (oh why!) can’t we just leave the poor pervert ALONE?

The immediate, scripted and entirely cynical reaction of all of these parties to Farrow’s book, which shot to the top of bestseller lists a week before its debut, is indicative of its promise of speaking truth to power. These men can feel feint, pathetic grasps on the narrative slipping further away. Farrow’s record of accomplishment and industry respect have made him increasingly dangerous. A piece from him is no as longer easy to scuttle as it was in 2017.

That doesn’t mean the predators and their fix-it men won’t keep trying. The conspiracy, however weakened, rolls on.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Big Fish

(l to r) Kyrie Anderson and Tommy Thurston in BoHo Theatre’s ‘Big Fish.’ (Photo: Time Stops Photography)

“In modern-day Alabama, Edward Bloom (an utterly transfixing Tommy Thurston) and his wife Sandra (Kyrie Anderson) are preparing for their son’s (Jeff Pierpont) wedding. Will Bloom has become emotionally estranged from his father, who he views as an odd man in a complicated relationship with the truth. While Sandra and Will’s new bride (Nicole Besa) take delight in Edward’s Odysseus-like coming-of-age stories, Will is annoyed by his father’s opacity as he prepares to start his own family.

Mr. Thurston is a revelation as an admittedly imperfect husband and father who nonetheless regards life as a series of colossal possibilities. No experience is limiting except as beheld by the small thinker. It can’t be easy for an actor to play a character who repeatedly vacillates between a teenager and an elderly man without ever losing sight of subtle shifts in energy, appearance and wisdom. Mr. Thurston is so effective at these quick changes that it’s easy to forget we’re watching the same performer.

The actor is supported by a marvelous cast that includes Ms. Anderson as Sandra, Edward’s muse, best friend and wife. As portrayed by an actress gifted in emotional range, song and pulchritude, it’s easy to understand the passionate man’s love for Sandra at first sight. And Robert Quintanilla is remarkable as Karl, one of the characters from Edward’s whimsical tales. A gentle behemoth with a delicate cultural palette and thirst for learning, Mr. Quintanilla’s performance is reminiscent of Andre the Giant’s turn in The Princess Bride. His work is just as endearing as the former wrestler’s in that film, however, accompanied by stronger diction.”

Read the full review on The Broadway Blog.

X

(l to r) Sarah Price and Krystal Ortiz in Sideshow Theatre Company’s U.S. premiere of “X.” (Photo Jonathan L. Green)

“The most effective science fiction is that which places authentic people in fantastic situations, lending a constant and credible edge to intriguing unreality. Somewhere along his writing journey, Mr. McDowell stumbled over that paradigm and was unable to course correct (space pun acknowledged, if not intended). By the conclusion of X, the audience, like the characters onstage, must necessarily lose the narrative thread.

While Mr. McDowell alone is responsible for the rhetorical downshift into linguistic babble, there is enough empty space left for director Jonathan L. Green to clarify the narrative, but he doesn’t seem to know what direction it’s headed, either. In spite of the dramaturgical and production challenges, Gage Wallace delivers a worthy performance as British space bro Clark, a revelation of obnoxiousness, comedic timing and genuine pathos. Mr. Wallace, Ms. Price and H.B. Ward, who plays universe-weary elder crewman Ray all deserve better material.

If X ended after the first act, theatergoers would be treated to a meditation on the present stewardship of our planet as leading to inevitable tragedy. However, the fresh ideas, innovative structure and fearless reckoning with the mistakes of the cultural present that offer such early promise, yield to a confusing, senseless and forgettable conclusion.”

Read the full review on The Broadway Blog.

Bernhardt/Hamlet

Terri McMahon in ‘Bernhardt/Hamlet’ at Goodman Theatre. (Photo: Liz Lauren)

“This rendering of Ms. Bernhardt offers a financially profligate legend who will never stop needing the approval and over-involvement of men in her life, be it her adult son Maurice (Luigi Sottile), her fellow actors or the transactional playwrights who trade art for sexual and emotional inspiration. She is in charge only in the pedantic, street-wise vein of a narcotics dealer.

Bernhardt had money, sexual magnetism and position – products judiciously withheld to advantage throughout her long career. However, minutes into Bernhardt/Hamlet it’s made clear that the now 55-year-old actress is no longer flush with any of these resources. She is, in fact, desperate. The publicly and critically shocking decision to dive headlong into Shakespeare’s alpha male tragedy is born, not of inspiration, but of a necessity to generate cash and headlines. Any theater history student knows this effort produced gossip, but certainly not riches or reborn critical acclaim. It was shortly after this experience that Ms. Bernhardt turned to film for salvation.

The material’s unacknowledged structural incongruity persists for over two and a half hours and is broken up only by long passages of dialogue from the work of male masters like Mr. Shakespeare and Mr. Rostand (John Tufts). As a critic and committed feminist, I found my patience routinely tested by these lengthy diversions from what should be the characters’ pursuit of their own deliberated truths – most notably, Ms. Bernhardt’s. Her relationship with Mr. Rostand as written is pathetic and depressing for both parties, only eclipsed by an utterly misguided collaborative attempt to remove the “poetry” from Shakespeare. Because somehow that places an actress on more equal gender footing? The idea is never adequately explained.”

Read the full review on The Broadway Blog.

Are Tom Steyer and the Center for American Progress (CAP) Responsible for the Death of ThinkProgress?

“Now-unemployed TP writers like Rebekah Entralgo Fernandez single out one very specific CAP board member for conspicuous consumption of the website’s dwindling funding resources. In a recent Twitter thread, she argued that billionaire liberal activist Tom Steyer’s doomed 2020 Presidential campaign could have “funded TP for a decade.” Steyer reportedly spent upwards of $8.7 million just on Facebook ads alone, money that could have kept the site running for the foreseeable future.

In a further act of alleged cynicism, Steyer’s staff is accused by Fernandez of recruiting the very same content experts he helped send to the employment line, for positions on his ill-fated campaign team. In short, according to some of TP’s stranded talent, Steyer spent millions on a vanity presidential run rather than help ThinkProgress remain solvent. Self-interest ahead of employees and the public at a time when publishing a strong, well-funded counter-narrative to the “fake news” of Fox’s alternate reality is more critical than ever.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Trump in Space

The cast of Laugh Out Loud Theater’s ‘Trump in Space.’ (Photo: Tyler Core)

“Love it or (more likely) loathe it: the Trump administration has gifted America with comedy gold. POTUS 45’s more hateful policies (such as a xenophobic immigration strategy infused with class warfare or fossil-fuel tilted deregulation) are no laughing matter. Though many are feeling the country less morally tolerable by the second, we’re often surprised by genuine if unintentional humor. It’s hard not to laugh at former Trump press secretary-turned-dance-competition-contestant Sean Spicer, or the linguistic presents we’ve received from our Commander-in-Chief’s illiterate tongue and keyboard – “covfefe,” “infantroopen” and so much more. So why is Trump in Space not funny?

Many, including myself, had high expectations for the limited run at Chicago’s Laugh Out Loud Theater. Lampooning this White House should be as easy as shooting fish in the proverbial barrel. The show is a product of the esteemed Second City Hollywood Studio Theater, where it has enjoyed a 23-month stint with rave reviews. In the hands of the original, founding Windy City chapter of the comedy powerhouse, I figured what has already been found quality can only improve.

As it turns out, that’s not true. It’s impossible to say with certainty, having not seen the California edition, what liberties the Chicago troupe took with the source material. As with any improv comedy piece, Trump in Space appears to have broadly drawn plot elements with plenty of room left for individual craftsmanship. What I can say with conviction is that with this group of performers, in this city and on this stage, the work is disappointingly bland and uninspired.”

Read the full review on The Broadway Blog.

All Quiet on the Western Front

Red Tape Theatre’s ‘All Quiet On The Western Front.’ (Photo: Austin Oie)

“Red Tape Theatre’s artistic leadership has a knack for creating relevant works that offer important critiques on the sociopolitical issues of today. This latest production continues that pattern by dusting off source material about human suffering that accompanied the world’s first tango with industrialized trench warfare — just as we’re grappling with new concepts of violence at the hands of weaponized trade, immigration and environmental policy.

With a terrific, diverse ensemble cast led by the electric Elena Victoria Feliz in the role of Paul, this rendering of Mr. Remarque’s novel leverages music, rhythm and special effects to humanize a band of German soldiers on the wrong side of history. Familiar pop tunes with themes of war, movement and strategically placed smoke dissolve nationality and “siderism” into a universal parable of fear, longing and inevitability. Agnostic of time or place, the troops dance the haka to communicate wild male aggression, and it works. We understand that when so much is unknown, it’s psychologically safest to keep moving, to stay muted and guarded.

So much of this understanding is communicated through Ms. Feliz’s eyes. It could be easy to dismiss her mostly silent role, but the performance and her character are the production’s moral, emotional and physical center. Paul is the omniscient narrator who knows how the story of the 2nd Company ends, even as he’s living it, stoically following through every chapter with empathy and tremendous sadness. This earns Paul the respect of his platoon and solidifies for the audience that Paul’s is the balanced perspective through which we should collectively process the experiences we see onstage. Ms. Feliz achieves this narrative feat using very little more than eye contact with her fellow actors, the folks in the cheap seats, even with the sound engineer. This young actress is going to do big things.”

Read the full review on The Broadway Blog.