In an interview with Harper’s BAZAAR, we learn about Victoria Pedretti’s rise to Netflix, her celebrity crushes from Spy Kids, and her overall genuine passion and love for the arts. It’s no surprise that fans are captivated by Pedretti’s stunning performance as Love Quinn in the Netflix’s ‘You.’
Love’s character was initially made out to be innocent, humorous, free-spirited, headstrong, and emotionally vulnerable. Pedretti made these elements of her character come to life so effortlessly, making it easy to love Love! Now these components of Love’s characters still ring true, but there was one key factor missing – she’s had a complicated and murderous past, just like Joe.
Joe Goldberg met his match, and for the first time, he becomes fearful of Love – getting a taste of what these women have had to endure as a result of his relentless obsessions and stalkings.
Thanks to Pedretti’s brilliant work, we never would have suspected that Love could have been capable of killing anyone. This makes the plot twist all the more shocking, when Love finally reveals that she killed Delilah, Candace, her ex-husband, and abusive babysitter.
Despite her attempts at a “normal” life in the suburbs, Love’s sanity is sent on a downward spiral. She is pushed to her limit after the death of her brother Forty, on top of dealing with an alcoholic mother and a sociopathic husband. The more Joe seems to push away, the harder Love works in attempts to get him to stay.
Feeling abandoned, taken for granted, and overall never good enough, are huge triggers for her character, and eventually drive Love to her breaking point when she almost kills Marienne. Instead – her final target is Joe. She comes to terms with the true nature of his character (while sharpening a cleaver).
In an attempt to end Joe’s reign of terror forever, she lunges at him – but unfortunately, Joe is one step ahead, and injects Love with a lethal poison, killing her. Pedretti’s acting was so believable that we could practically feel the emotions and conflicts she was experiencing. The suspense of the season finale had fans at the edge of their seats, which would not have been possible had it not been for Pedretti’s spectacular performance.
“You want a story to touch people, and if a lot of people watch it, it’s representative of how much people are taking interest in the work you’re doing. I want to work more, I want to do more, I want to grow more. Every opportunity I have to do the work I do feels like a miracle,” – Victoria Pedretti, Harper’s BAZAAR interview.
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Sarah Paulson
Broadway’s newest show Appropriate starring Sarah Paulson, at Second Stage’s Hayes Theatre nearly sold out their first week. The play, written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and co-starring Elle Fanning and Corey Stoll, opens December 18th.
Paulson has received an Emmy, Golden Globe, and SAG Awards in her three-decade career. She made her Broadway debut in 1994 as an understudy in Wendy Wasserstein’s The Sisters Rosensweig. She later took on the role of Tess Goode in the production. She returned to the stage in two other Broadway productions: 2005’s The Glass Menagerie (as Amanda Wingfield) and 2010’s Collected Stories (originating the role of Lisa Morrison). She also appeared in six Off-Broadway productions between 1994 and 2013, including Crimes of the Heart, Still Life,Colder Than Hereat the Lucille Lortel Theatre, Killer Joeat SoHo Playhouse, Talking Picturesat Signature Theatre andthe Pulitzer-nominated Talley’s Folly with Roundabout Theatre Company.
Paulson is perhaps best known for starring in nine seasons of Murphy’s American Horror Story, first appearing on the show in 2011. Her performances collectively earned nine Emmy Award nominations.
In 2023, after 10 years away from the New York stage, Paulson returns to Broadway as Toni in Appropriate, the Broadway-debut play of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins.
A Monstrously Intense Double Bill from Playwright Daniel MacIvor at Factory Theatre Toronto
“Is this what you expected?” asks Henry. “Is this what I’m supposed to do?”
I had no idea what I was walking into, nor did I understand the historical aspects of this double bill of one-person shows that were being staged so magnetically on the two Factory Theatre stages. The significance lies in the contrasting unity and the way the two solo shows changed theatre when they first came into being so many years ago. Daniel MacIvor, a playwright, performer, and filmmaker, fills these two contemporary classics with sparks of phenetic energy, exuding tension and emotional complexities that resonate far beyond the single spotlight, and now, brought to life here at Factory, the gift is full-blown, exacting, and utterly enthralling.
With the 75-minute Monster, the one-man tense wonderment casts us deep into an electric darkness. Its first movement abandons us, forcing us to sink into the tension that bows down before us in the pitch-black void. We sit, wondering, feeling the electric discomfort well up inside, before a voice cuts through the blackness with a “Shhhhh,” “Has it started yet?” It’s a captivating bit of theatrical engagement, forcing a squirm to come compulsively over us, long before the lights come up on the magnificent Karl Ang (Tarragon’s Cockroach) giving us a master class of chaotic exacting intensity.
As directed with a fine eye to precise moments of dark intensity by Soheil Parsa (Factory’s Wildfire), Monster takes us through, around, and about a tale of tension, anger, and obsession where the ending is as fascinatingly unclear as its beginning. It seeps in from the edges with Ang transporting us through a series of characters and formulations that jump in and out of time and its ever-fluid construct. We are invited into a tense quarreling heterosexual couple’s scenario, filled to the electric frayed edges with passive-aggressive violence. It shifts around before us, led by the exacting and determined Ang, forcing us to lean and pay attention from an angle of curiosity and tension.
There is a young boy, meticulously well-embodied, as Ang does with every one of these complex characters, who is at first, fascinated, then obsessed with an impossibly vicious murder that was committed by the weird next-door neighbours down in the darkness of their basement. Ang takes us through the details, as only a young boy would, unflinching in his compulsive engagement with what happened and horrified/entranced with the act itself. We are also thoroughly obsessed, with him and the whole unraveling, wondering where this is all heading, and what it all means.
As written with an exacting purpose by the masterful MacIvor, the narrator of these stories is a wide-open Adam, who speaks directly to the audience. He draws us in, while keeping us nervous and unsure, giving off the impression of impartiality but not completely convincing us that there isn’t something dangerous lurking in the background. His calculated energy is mirrored and enhanced within the theatrical dynamic, brought forth precisely by the fine work of set, props, and lighting designer Trevor Schwellnus (Factory’s Armadillos) with a dynamic sound designed cleverly by Thomas Ryder Payne (Crow’s Bad Roads). The distinct and sharp reverberations are amplified and muffled, shouted in and whispered out. That sonic energy creates a chaotic realm of interactive intensity, with the movements of the expert Ang unleashing a menacing air of tight, muscular, thrilling proportions, never giving us a moment to relax before the ending pushes itself forward.
Karl Ang is detailed and spectacular in this intense unraveling, giving us exacting constructions of various characters, as he stays solidly center-stage in that sharp pool of light. The neon colors and tightness of the pool of light illuminate the darkness with intent, with Ang transforming himself with cutting definition, emphasized even more by the simplistic costuming by Allie Marshall (Factory’s My Granny the Goldfish). The outcome is razor-edged and distinct, elevating the topography effortlessly with a shift of his head, and a look in the eyes. His performance, with the gift of Parsa’s direction, pushes Monster into a completely entrancing and electric realm, exciting our senses and leading us out of the theatre mesmerized.
The overall effect is honed and powerful, and as fresh as I imagine it would have been back in 1998 when it was first performed at the duMaurier World Stage in Toronto. It faulted and stumbled a bit near the end, somehow missing the connective tissues by only a hair, here and there, but the monstrosity of humanity as a whole lingers within, seeping into our senses, and staying with us, deep under our skin, as we make our way out and up to the next MacIvor master class one flight up (and 45-minutes later).
“Cause I’m free, nothing is worrying me.“
Here Lies Henry is as spectacular, but quite the different beast, cut from a similar cloth but a very different fabric. Interestingly, it’s layered with another classic old song. In Monster, MacIvor played with the menacing sweet tendencies of “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” but in this other one-person beam of captive energy, Damien Atkins (Soulpepper’s King Lear), the central bright white light of Here Lies Henry, uncomfortably delivers to us the happy “…Sunny Side of the Street” as he moves around the broad main stage of Factory Theatre thrilling us with a very different kind of tense complication.
Timed to perfection, a slice of white light and dramatic cueing delivers a hurried Atkins to us. We feel his vibrating discomfort in every pore of that wide nervous face and expressive body and eyes. Atkins unpacks his character with a very different electricity, created from a place of anxious engagement and discombobulation. He has an overwhelming sense of theatrical flourish, singing and trying with all his might to engage, with hand puppet gesturing and scattered, stilted jokes that fail to find the punchline, as if he is completely desperate to get us on his side, for some unknown reason.
He’s that guy that we all feel for but dislike being corralled by at a party. His intense need to connect fills us with a pushing-away discomfort and anxiety, even as we are drawn into his circular thinking and repetitive entertainments. He tries to tell funny stories, with a setup centered around a salad bar at a vegan convention, but then, his anxiety gets the best of him, unnerved by the idea that he might have offended any vegans in the audience.
“Is this what you expected?” he asks. “Is this what I’m supposed to do?”
He’s an optimist he tells us, and as we internally question that description, he also unpacks another item, that any optimist is also a liar, as there is no way to be one and not the other. He also teases out the idea of a dead body in the other room. He doesn’t tell us who, but we begin to put some of the pieces together. Is the title a reference to his compulsive act of lying or is it a reference to the body that is doing exactly that in the other room? Or maybe it is a bit of both, or a lot of both. He is, in fact, dressed like a corpse caught trying to escape his own funeral and coffin, thanks to some fine work done by wardrobe stylist Allie Marshall. Atkins completely hypnotizes us with his skill, his unwavering talent, and his taxonomy list of lies, one through seven, starting with the clever “just kidding” quip to the highly problematic pathological lie, and ending with the universal one, which is the concept of time, a dynamic framing that gives people hope, something he has little of.
The unmistakable brilliance of the piece is revealed inside Atkins’ skilled portrayal of this desperate man, as he unravels his possible truths before us, pulling at us to enter his domain while keeping us vibrating at arm’s length with his projected anxiety. His mother is a fried egg sandwich, he tells us, and his father is a cigarette pack of specificity. He distracts his vulnerability with some wild dance moves, something that Atkins revels in, and as directed with clarity and comedic brilliance by Tiwiah M’Carthy (Obsidian/Canadian Stage’s Fairview), the personality portrayal is delivered almost perfectly, energized with a nervous self-exposing cycle of existential destructive self-preservation.
Together the two pieces find energy and excitement in their tense unfolding. It’s a master class of one-person acting, directing, and writing, that must be seen and felt to fully understand the power that a one-person show can bring. Don’t miss this electric gift and exciting opportunity, courtesy of Factory Theatre, Toronto. MacIvor’s magnificent Monster and the equally profound Here Lies Henry are just too delicious and disturbing to ignore.
For tickets and information: https://www.factorytheatre.ca/
For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com
Jane Austen In The Catskills, An Interview
Laura Cable is a machine. An actress with an immense amount of power, she carries herself with poise and a heartfelt passion for her work. Her determination and high bar for excellence came in handy when she was offered the lead part in the Jane Austen-inspired romantic comedy Miss Bennet: Christmas At Pemberley at Shadowland Stages in The Catskills. There were only two weeks of rehearsal before its first preview. A fast and furious process, to be sure.
Intensity notwithstanding, the play, written by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, Pemberley marks Cable’s return to Shadowland Stages (she appeared earlier this year in a production of 39 Steps).
“There’s an artistic energy and support that is so unique to Shadowland Stages,” she says. “I love it here.”
Directed by Shadowland’s Artistic Director Brendan Burke, Pemberley centers on the bookish and musically-inclined middle Bennet sister, Mary. The play sets her up as eclipsed by the likes of charming Jane, vivacious Lydia, and headstrong Lizzie. She may be the one with the greatest intellect, but still, she’s fighting to find her place in the world. She’s socially uncomfortable. She doesn’t fit in. However, during a family Christmas jaunt at the famed Pemberley estate, an unexpected guest surprises Mary in ways she never thought possible.
What is your dressing room must-have?
LAURA CABLE: Wide open space! When you spend a considerable amount of your career as an understudy and a swing, you get in the habit of getting in and out of makeup/wigs/costumes very quickly. So, I tend to be in and out of the dressing room like a flash. And, you’re more likely to see a completely empty dressing room station until half-hour for me than one of the more well-decorated stations.
Pemberley marks a return to Shadowland for you. What drew you back?
LC: The moment I started rehearsals for 39 STEPS this summer, I immediately felt at home. This is a community that loves its theatre and the artists who make it. The team here maintains such a fun and light-hearted rehearsal atmosphere that you feel brave to make bold, ridiculous choices. So, when this call came in, it was the rehearsal room energy that made me say an immediate yes. And secondly, it was the role of Mary herself. I have a soft spot for middle sisters who get overlooked in large, boisterous families. The fact that Mary Bennet, the quintessential forgotten middle sister, gets her own Christmas romance story? I couldn’t resist!
Why do you think Jane Austen’s work is still so resonant?
LC: As many aspects of life become more casual in 2023, I think part of our collective unconscious longs for that formality of days gone by. Sure, yoga pants are more comfortable than corsets, but what we lose in the process is the sense of occasion. That going to this dinner downstairs in your own dining room is worthy of a gown. That meeting this gentleman is worthy of a bow and a curtsy. Jane Austen’s characters allow us to go back to that sense of occasion from the comfort of our own homes.
Tell me about your interpretation of Mary Bennet.
LC: Mary is unapologetically herself. She is an intelligent, quick-witted dreamer who longs for a large life in an era when women were trained to make theirs very small. While she learns quite a bit about herself throughout the journey of the play, she never compromises one bit of who she is to find love.
What have Gunderson and Melcon brought to her that strikes you?
LC: They’ve made Mary ever-so human. She has a raging temper, a sharp tongue, and an entire family of married sisters watching as she faces some of the most intimate vulnerable moments of her life. The writing is rich and raw. It’s a great deal of fun to act.
How have you reconciled what Austen wrote about Mary with what they’ve added?
LC: I love it! What they’ve done is not in contradiction to Austen so much as it is giving a character with very little backstory a fully realized story.
What is the actor’s job?
LC: To tell the story. It’s that simple.
What is something about the industry that you wish was different?
LC: I wish there were more repertory theatre companies where a group of actors can work and grow together for long periods of time. There’s something thrilling about meeting a new group of cast mates every few months as you book a show. But, working with the same group of actors that you love and trust—maybe for years on end—would be a true dream come true. You really can’t replicate the onstage chemistry of people who have fabulous offstage chemistry.
The holidays are in full swing now. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
LC: I love so many things about the holidays! And New York goes crazy for Christmas. I love the lights in Dyker Heights, ice skating at Bryant Park, and admiring the Rockefeller Center Tree. In my own apartment, I love the glow from my Christmas tree with a fun holiday movie on TV. It’s really not Christmas without IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, A MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL, or WHITE CHRISTMAS!
Miss Bennet: Christmas At Pemberley is in performance Dec 1-17 at Shadowland Stages in Ellenville, NY. To purchase tickets, visit https://shadowlandstages.org
For more information about Laura Cable, visit lauracable.com
For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com
Ruth Stage’s “Lone Star” Guzzles Down Edgeless Revelations and Trauma at Theatre Row NYC
By Dennis W
Hey, grab yourself a six-pack and head out to Angel’s Bar (at NYC’s Theatre Row) where Ray, Roy, Cletis, and Elizabeth will meet you in the backyard. It’s just a place to hang out, where tired old lawn furniture and a few milk crates hiding in the scrub go before they retire to the junk pile. It’s the early 1970s, and there isn’t much to do in the backwater town of Maynard, Texas, as a matter of fact, the town almost disappeared not too long ago.
The main players, Roy and Ray, in Ruth Stage’s Lone Starwritten by James McLure (Original Adaption by Ruth Stage) seem to be the brothers. They exist here, living out a dark comedy about a psychological casualty of war who comes home. It begins with a substantial monologue and mini-concert by Roy’s wife, Elizabeth, played by Ana Isabelle (Off-Broadway’s I Like It Like That). She is trying to save her marriage to her high school sweetheart, a former soldier who came home from Vietnam two years ago and suffers from PTSD (which was not even acknowledged by the military until the 1980s). Isabelle gives an adequate performance but it feels very odd that she is alone on stage talking about how her husband’s condition has and is affecting her, him, their life together, their family, and their strained marriage. What’s odd is that when she’s finished she leaves, not to be seen again, until just before the final curtain.
For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com
“Angels in America” Cracks the Wall With Intimate Power at BuddiesTO
From the first lines spoken by that aging rabbi, played meticulously well by Brenda Bazinet (Citadel’s Equus), I breathed a huge internal sigh of relief. I had persuaded a good friend from New York City to fly to Toronto to see That Theatre Company‘s production of the epic Angels in America, probably my most beloved play ever written, which is currently playing a much too short run at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. He had never seen a production of this iconic play, and I really wanted his first experience to be epic and meaningful, as powerful an experience as it is to me. And I knew, from those first few spoken moments, that this play, written so beautifully by Tony Kushner (A Bright Room Called Day; Caroline, or Change) and directed with such grace by Craig Pike (Buddies’ Body Politic), was going to rise up as majestically and magnificently as I had hoped.
The art of the play lies in the poetry of the words and the honoring of them all. If we can believe in them wholeheartedly, the play will fly forward on strong wings. Pike does exactly that. It’s not revolutionary, his approach, but it does play strong tribute to the words and how they are delivered. The rabbi tells us that he did not really know this woman who is being buried in that rectangular box of light before him, courtesy of some brilliant lighting design by Bonnie Beecher (Young People’s The Darkest Dark), but he knew her in a larger and more meaningful way; a grander idea of knowing, that this play resonates most profoundly outward with all of its cleverly constructed characters. We know them all, in some way or another, and believe in their words and actions. They carry emotional connections that feel personal; to ourselves and our loved ones, parts of those still with us and some that are not, and it is in the power of those words spoken at a funeral for a woman who plays no role in this majestic piece of theatre, we find our connection to Angels in America.
I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was to have the opportunity to sit through another 7 1/2 hours of Angels in America this past weekend at Buddies with my friend from NYC. I have seen this play numerous times before; on Broadway, twice (the original and the 2018 revival), the HBO film, the NTLive’s screening of the National Theatre‘s production that eventually transferred to Broadway, and an off-Broadway Signature Theatre production, all compelling in their own ways and means, but now, with my friend, I was going to be able to see it fresh through his eyes and in the glow of this magnificent play once again, this time in Toronto at the “largest and longest-running queer theatre in the world“, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. It seems completely appropriate, and if anyone doesn’t already have tickets, I suggest you get up off your butts and get them now. This is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of production that will move you beyond anything that you’ve seen before.
It is true that other actors and their performances in this play continue to haunt me as I take in any new production, whether I like it or not. The Broadway stage ghosts of Stephen Spinella, Kathleen Chalfant, (the spectacular) Marcia Gay Harden, and Jeffrey Wright watch over me, as well as the HBO television spirits of Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, and Mary Louise Parker, poking around in my head, asking me to not forget them. But I must say that as I sat and watched this current production at Buddies, I quickly set aside anything beyond what was happening before me on that simple cracked runway of a stage, designed most magically by Brian Dudkiewicz (Neptune’s The Last Five Years). The music and electric soundwaves, courtesy of sound designer John Gzowski (Tarragon’s Post-Democracy), play with our senses, vibrating through us and ushering us in so completely that I lost my sense of time and space. The cascading of the soundscape within the highs and lows forces the past to leave me alone, and not intervene with this epic viewing. Whatever the reason, this current revival is as solidly compelling and complete as one could wish for, and this is quite the understatement, if you ask me. Words can barely describe its wonder. And there shouldn’t be an empty seat in the house for this revival.
The heartbreaking and powerful 7 1/2 hours fly by, born on the energy and excitement of the audience and the intense power of an angel in battle, wrestling with a mortal for his salvation, and I was honored to be in its presence. Part One: Millennium Approaches is by far the most beautiful and far-reaching introduction to our shared History of Gay America in the 1980’s. The opening monologue mysteriously tells us all we need to know for the next 3 plus hours, and maybe for the entirety. Not in terms of the old Jewish woman laying in the coffin, which it does, but about the world and people we are about to embrace. It’s such a sly and wonderful piece of writing that sneaks into our collective soul and sets us up on almost all levels for what is in store. It’s about death, love, and life, but it’s also about pain, suffering, guilt, and abandonment. One thing you can say about Kushner and his writing of Part One is that there isn’t a moment of excess or a wasted scene that could be edited out. Every word seems meaningful and essential in this over three-hour beginning, and it is delivered to us compassionately and honestly.
The cast, as directed most beautifully and dynamically by Pike, is utterly connected, deepening and engaging our connection to them with every simple breath they take. Allister MacDonald (Neptune’s The Rocky Horror Show) as Prior gives us everything we could ever have hoped for from 1980s camp to the angry black-shrouded stalker looking for revenge, bruising, and a deeper understanding, artfully masking the frightened young gay boy beneath. His armored front is something exacting, and quite commonly donned as a shield against all that would want to harm in the world he lives in. It’s a powerful statement against oppressive forces and one that feels as authentic and real as any.
MacDonald leads us through the dark and heaviness of this play with power and hysterical grace, giving us an unforgettable portrayal that is as deep and meaningful as it is funny and smart. Ben Sanders (Showtime’s “Fellow Travelers“) as his guilt-ridden Jewish boyfriend, Louis is fantastically annoying in his defensive wordplay, hiding quite simply behind the intellectual waterfall of concepts and ideas. He dutifully tries with all his might to be present, but those theories and conjectures don’t, in the end, protect him. This stalemate of sorts is most beautifully pointed out by Belize, archly portrayed by the absolutely perfect Kaleb Alexander (Obsidian’s Pass Over), who lets him know, quite clearly, that it does distract him just long enough for him to see how far he is from being engaged with the world around him.
Alexander as Belize, the nurse and friend of Prior (and travel agent for Harper) grounds the piece in sharpness and clarity that echoes throughout the play, filling it with an emotional heart that forever stays within. Wade Bogert-O’Brien (Grand’s Controlled Damage) is organically exacting as the desperately unhappy Joe, unearthing layers of skin and authentic pain throughout. The battle that plays out inside this Marlboro Man’s head ricochets throughout the theatre and into our hearts, clawing at us with his need, both to crush and live fully inside his darkness and sexuality. He is the one truly tragic figure of this play, left desperate and in need without any support or care from any one soul in his sad, unhappy life.
Christine Horne (Tarragon’s Light) as Joe’s tortured and torturing wife, Harper, tackles one of the hardest parts in this complex play and triumphs. Her dementia is clear, thoughtful, and profound, leading us carefully through her fear and mistrust with an intelligence and bravery that is awe-inspiring. “Weird stuff happens”, she knows. “Like you,” she says to the travel agent who appears out of nowhere offering her escape from the monsters that wait for her in the bedroom. Once again, I was awestruck by the scene that unfolds between Harper and Prior. Something about these two coming together as we watch MacDonald’s Prior gently caress her face with his makeup brush, is by far the most electric and emotionally engaging tie in the play, making that lump in my throat rear itself up for the first of many times. The thin hair of connective tissue between these two holds the piece together in the same way that their “threshold of revelations” sinks deep inside, destroying and freeing themselves all within the same breath. The fragile and intimate way they can see inside the other and know their pain is what creates that added weight and meaning to the whole. And it adds layers and layers of fierce and unfair constructs to the two that electrify their existence in the world.
Bazinet and the magnificent Soo Garay (Factory’s Belle) have the joy and the difficulty of playing numerous roles spanning from a caring nurse, a distraught Mormon neighbor, a perplexed male doctor, a homeless disturbed woman, a patient Ethel Rosenberg, Joe’s angry mother, to a Rabbi and an angel. Horne also is given the sweetest of opportunities to showcase her profound skills playing a smarmy male friend of Roy Cohn, as does Bogert-O’Brien and Mezon as previous Priors coming back around to help guide and enlighten. But some of the finest work in this play is done by both Bazinet in her assortment of characters, especially the doctor who knows that hooker wasn’t a female, and Garay, who majestically embodies both the thoughtful nurse and the compelling angel (and Harrah’s real estate agent and friend) with a power and force that is out of this world magnificent. They all perform Kushner’s profound poetry with an ease that makes it look so effortless, yet deeply personal and authentic. Jim Mezon (That Theatre Company’s A Number) is exacting and deliberate as the closeted horrible Roy Cohn. His Roy Cohn is as layered and fiery as one could hope for, devastating and cruel but desperate for some sort of masculine connection. He, and the others, bring clarity and connection to the front without distancing themselves from the pain and suffering that surrounds them all. For a production running fast and furious forward, their work is unparalleled.
“I want the voice, it’s wonderful. It’s all that’s keeping me alive.”
Kushner spoke often about Angels in America‘s need to be seen as artificial in a theatrical framework, with all the strings and artifice showing. And in that stance, That Theatre Company’s tender and intimate production succeeds gloriously. The landscape plays perfectly with space and time, with expert framing of light by Beecher and perfect costuming by Louise Bourret (DWYT’s The Producers), expanding and highlighting all aspects of this play. It engages the characters through effortless transitions and authentic arrangments, blending the emotionality expertly from one moment to another through connective tissues of delivery that feel simple and true. The intimacy is palpable, especially in the intricate engagements.
“Greetings, Prophet. The Great Work Begins. The Messenger Has Arrived.”
One of the striking things about Angels in America Part Two: Perestroika is just how epic and large Kushner’s stroke is as he paints his complicated and captivating canvas. He opens this second half with the oldest living Russian Bolshevik (Bazinet) delivering a speech about revolution, passion, and theory. It’s captivating in its wordplay, painting a deep psychological meaning about living life and moving forward. Not just for Russians, or people with AIDS, but for humanity as a whole. The Bolshevik spins words and ideas out into the space that are sometimes overwhelming in the moment, but never without passion and a heavy meaning on its even bigger canvas. Hanging on to these ideas and ideals for the next four hours through heaven and earth only adds to their power and brilliance. Kushner shapes our minds with an expert hand, preparing us for what is to follow, unconsciously, and brilliantly, because the work really has begun for these souls, and we are ready to follow along.
I have heard from many theatergoers that Part Twoshould be edited down well beyond its four-plus hours’ length. They say the story could and would still be told with a good 30 minutes at least cut, and I agree with that point if story-telling is all we are here for. But like great works of Shakespeare and others, the piece would lose a great deal of its magic with each subtraction of text. Every poetic word and utterance feels utterly important somehow, and I truly believe they are in a way that is unconscious or unfathomable. When it is all said and done, the piece carries its weight well into the heavens, and beyond. The canvas is brilliantly textured; sad, terrifying, and confusing, but filled with desire, long after the last stroke is applied. And I wouldn’t want to lose one phrase for the sake of a few minutes here and there.
“The fountain’s not flowing now, they turn it off in the winter. Ice in the pipes. But in the summer…it’s a sight to see, and I want to be around to see it. I plan to be, I hope to be.”
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