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Off Broadway

A Parallelogram: To Eat a Cookie and Watch Historical Reality Television In the Future. Sounds Fun, Right?

A Parallelogram: To Eat a Cookie and Watch Historical Reality Television In the Future. Sounds Fun, Right?

Anita Gillette

It’s summertime in NYC and my battle with priorities is full on. Summer and sun versus Sunday matinees and theatre. It’s a difficult choice some days, especially with the sun shining and the beach calling my name. How do I plan ahead? So with full knowledge that my schedule of sun and beach fun was not going to allow me to be around for the press dates of Second Stage’s production of Bruce Norris’ A Parallelogram, I jumped at the opportunity to see this intriguing new play before, as I was informed, the show was deemed ‘frozen’. So take this review with a grain of salt, with full upfront knowledge that they were still working on it, making improvements and changes probably up until this upcoming weekend.

Celie Keenan-Bolger
I can only say though, that if this show is going to be improved, I’m not sure where they would start.  It is, at this stage of the game, a thoroughly engaging and exciting piece of theatre. With ten days before the official opening night, A Parallelogram is in completely solid shape. As directed slickly and concisely by the total pro, Michael Greif (Dear Evan HansenWar PaintNext to Normal), this engaging and thrilling new play feels like the perfect mind game.  It’s a classic ‘is she or isn’t she’ gaslight affair, and with the perfect pair of actors leading us along, this piece doesn’t take one mis-step.
Anita Gillette
Celie Keenan-Bolger (Broadway’s The Cherry Orchard, Peter and the Starcatcher) as Bee, the woman in mind at the center of this intersection, and the old lady she meets at the supermarket played effortlessly by Anita Gillette (Broadway’s Chapter Two, Cabaret) are a magnificent force together.  Is the story we are seeing Bee’s or is it through the eyes of the Old Lady who, in some ways, appears to be orchestrating and watching some sort of reality television show for her own amusement, as she sits back smoking cigarettes and eating cookies. Who’s to say, but it’s a compelling conundrum we find ourselves in.  What exactly are we seeing here?
Celie Keenan-Bolger, Stephen Kunken
There are two ways one could look at this story. Through the eyes of her boyfriend, the well meaning and logically minded, Jay, played with an perfect neurotic passion by Stephen Kunken (Broadway’s Enron, Tom Stoppard’s Rock ‘n’ Roll) or through the concepts espoused by Dee.  It probably will come down to the type of person you are, or like to think of yourself as.  Are you more like Jay? Or more like JJ, the hot, sexy latino man, played by the wonderful Juan Castano (ATC’s Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train) that mows his way into their lives? I’m totally on the side of Dee and her counterparts, but I’ll let you all decide who’s side of the fence you are on.

Anita Gillette, Celie Keenan-Bolger, Stephen Kunken

Miraculously designed by Rachel Hauck (ATC’s Animal, The Public’s Tiny Beautiful Things), the set spins and messes with our sense of reality with sharp abruptness and precision.  It’s a piece of pure theatrical magic, supported by the talented costume designer, Jeff Mahshie (RTC’s She Loves Me); lighting designer, Kenneth Posner (2ST’s Mr. and Mrs. Fitch, Broadway’s Tuck Everlasting); and sound designer, Matt Tierney (NYTW’s Red Speedo). The look and feel of the piece is as important to the emotional head trip as is any of the aspects, but the true magic, beyond the impeccable performances, is the play itself.

A work of fascinating puzzle-making, playing with our abilities to see beyond our own reality show, and into something else.  What would we do, if we knew what was going to happen, but any attempt, we are told, to change the overall outcome is meaningless? Would we sit back and eat a cookie? Or fight hard to make a difference? It’s maddening to imagine what would become of us. But s thoroughly enjoyable afternoon at the theatre, even when it is so darn beautiful outside.
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Off Broadway

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to

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