“Wildfowl“, is the name given, to self and to the idea. And it fits, in the strangest of all possible great hilarious ways. Along with the emphatic statement, “you are brave, you are sexy, in a non-threatening way.” It says so much, in such a pointedly funny way, that we can only lean in and perk up our blacktail in curious wonder as the bird chirping leads us into the fantastic meta-framework of Liz Kingsman’s mindboggling great One Woman Show, now playing, sadly only until August 11th at the sweet intimate Greenwich House Theatre. The British comic flies high, blurring the lines with abundance and shifting our focus from the here and now to the abstracted idea of time and place within a moment’s notice. Her structuring plays with our senses and our idea of performative constructs, leading us most wildly into definitive spaces where ‘realness’ and ‘beginnings’ mean one thing before transporting us into another.
Trust me when I say that you must make your way downtown to see this, even as I’m being purposefully abstract and vague, because this is, in the most alluring and wonderful kind of way, one of those shows where the less you know about this quirky, sexy project, the better. As written and performed deviously by Kingsman (Apple TV’s “Hijack“), the show redefines the narrative, showcasing itself to be as smart and as sly as can be. It’s wickedly direct at deconstructing a genre that she obviously admires wholeheartedly, but it is also clear she has a few issues with it. She dynamically peels back layers from a unique, chaotic, and agile angle that I’ve never seen and experienced before in a framework that is stereotypical and obvious, without ever mocking herself or all those that have come before her.
Directed sharply and wisely by Adam Brace (Broadway’s Just For Us), Kingsman dons the awkward guise of a troubled mess of a woman navigating a life that is both odd and disturbing, while being relatable and authentic, in a flighty weird sort of way. “You’re not a mess, you just want to be seen as one,” she is told in one of the smarter set-ups, as the plot shifts and flies forward and around herself. In and out of the meta-formula with a sharpness that both keeps us off balance and totally engaged, she forces us to lean into the hilariously styled plots that center around sexuality, lust, and engagement, captivating us all by her off-the-cuff roundabouts that keep us tuned in completely.
She expertly physicalizes others, like her so well-put-together boss, Dana, while embracing and critiquing the structure that she is expanding herself within. She struts and saunters through her act within an act most magically, jabbing at nonsense from an angle that expands rather than shuts us out. It’s pretty solidly brilliant in its formulation, finding honesty in its off-handedness that hilariously digs itself into something completely inspiring. The tall drink-of-water that grows and blossoms out of its abstraction skewers us all, taking us hostage in its clever contraption and stripping herself down pseudo-naked for us all to see. It’s a sharp and wickedly great Fleabag reference that only elevates the piece up higher, giving more light and context the more it undresses, thanks to the fine assist by designer Chloe Lamford (Broadway’s Hillary and Clinton), lighting designer Daniel Carter-Brennan (Leo Reich’s Literally Who Cares!?), and choreographer Joshua Lay (Palace’s Funny Girl).
One Woman Show, which opened at Soho Theatre in October 2021 before transferring to London’s West End where it was nominated for an Olivier Award, as well as winning and being nominated for numerous other awards around the globe, winks and nods at itself and the audience with a knowing mischievous glee. Kingman stumbles and flies around the meta-taping and the meta-presentation with an expertly aimed eye, giving it all while appearing to be something quite different. The heightened awareness of what is being poked at and embraced is Wildfowl-wonderful, pushing a pseudo-narrative that is seductive and devious inside the messiness and allure of what it is and what it wants to be. Go see it if you have the chance, and open yourself to a hilariously sharp, satirical experience like no other.
For tickets and information, go to: https://onewomanshownyc.com/ but hurry, you only have until August 11th to catch this Wildfowl / One Woman Show.
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
Have You Begun Dreaming of It Yet? (PART I)
What else – White Christmas, of course!
December is jampacked with great entertainment, so I hope you’re caught up on your shopping, because there are lots of treats for you this month. Here’s a stockingful of events that you shouldn’t miss.
If you’re looking for probably the most glamorous gift of the season, drop by Doyle Galleries to at least look at The Ellin and Irving Berlin Sapphire and Diamond Ring. Bidding is estimated to begin at $200,000 at the December 14th auction.
Jason Henderson kicked off the month reprising his highly acclaimed latest venture, Getting to Noël You at Don’t Tell Mama on the 4th. If you missed this evening, don’t worry – he’s back by popular demand—same time, same location—on January 24th and February 11th. It’s quite a curious and fast-paced ride he takes us on, and it’s one not to be missed.
The York Theatre has delivered a mitzvah–just in time for Christmas. Billed as a Musical Comedy of Biblical Proportions, The Jerusalem Syndrome certainly lived up to expectations. You must see it to discover the meaning of the title, which is fact, not fiction.
While this has been in development for several years, the skilled midwifery of the York brought forth a little bundle of joy that had the audience laughing at its humor and touched by its message. Sensitive to the current Middle East conflict, the York bravely went ahead with the project, which affords everyone a chance to marvel and understand the miracle that is Israel.
It’s running through the end of the year—visit the York website https://yorktheatre.org for more info.
Urban Stages has announced its “2023 Winter Rhythms” series, the award-winning music festival at Urban Stages Theater (259 West 30th Street – between 7th & 8th Avenues).
It began with a gala on December 6 entitled “Nights at the Algonquin: A Celebration of The Oak Room Supper Club,” featuring many legendary cabaret performers including Natalie Douglas, Boots Maleson, Steve Ross, and Daryl Sherman. Hosted by Michael Colby (author of The Algonquin Kid), the evening began with a champagne and wine reception followed by the show at 7:30 with a post-show gathering to follow.
On Sunday, December 10 at 3pm “Created at the Algonquin: Songs from Musicals Written at The Algonquin,” featuring performances by Craig Bierko, Shana Farr, Jenn Gambatese, Anita Gillette, Jon Peterson, Steve Ross and others. The program will be directed by Sara Louise Lazarus with Michael Lavine directing the music.
As part of the festivities, Shana Farr will reprise her glorious Barbara Cook tribute on the 16th. Ice Cream,. Anyone?
Everyone’s favorite is Karen Mason, whose show Christmas! Christmas! Christmas! is one night only at Birdland at 7 pm on the 11th.
Stay tuned for Part II for Christmas romance, tradition, and good will!
T2C Talks to Patrick Olson About Emergence
Patrick Olson, is a musician-scientist and now a performer with his own show Emergence, Off-Broadway at The Pershing Square Signature Center through January 7, 2024.
T2C talked to this prolific artist to learn more about what seems more like a movement and a unique experience.
See t2C’s review here.
Emergence: Things Are Not As They Seem: Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street through January 7th. Tickets and information: emergenceshow.com
Video by Magda Katz
Off Broadway Girl Talk Madwomen of the West
Right now at the Actors Temple Theatre, 339 West 47th Street is the New York premier of Sandra Tsing Loh’s Madwomen of the West. The show in a way reminded me of the 1996 play Love, Loss, and What I Wore, where celebrities joined on stage. Here you have Caroline Aaron, Brooke Adams, Marilu Henner, and Melanie Mayron, all actors who have performed on film, TV and stage. They are like long lost friends, they are so familiar.
The four have gathered together for Claudia’s (Mayron) birthday. It is being thrown at the Brentwood home of Jules (Adams) and Marilyn (Aaron) has decorated. Enter the long lost Zoey (Henner) and what you think you know about these friends, isn’t what it seems. As a matter of fact, this birthday brunch is about to turn into the brunch from hell. These Baby Boomers, are also feminists admiring Hilary Clinton and Gloria Steinem, though not always on the same side. They break the 4th wall, as they banter back and forth to themselves and to us, the audience. They confront, encourage, justify and talk about transgender, health, the horror of Trump and those “pussy hats”, sex and so much more. Think “girl-talk” to the max.
They sit on couches, as a backdrop of palm trees, and a lone piñata take center stage, thanks to set designer Christian Fleming. The play has no money, so the production is bare bones…. so they say. Everything about this show is tongue and check and is well directed by Thomas Caruso.
Each actor here shines and in an out of the way aside, each has pieces of their real selves written into the roles they play. Not having seen Aaron on stage before, I was impressed by her vocal quality and humor. Adams brings sophistication and Mayron adds that knowing, we are all in the same messed up boat. Henner will make you want that body and her sex appeal.
These women knocked down doors for the women to come, but I was surprised that the one issue they missed out on was that women are still not equal in this country. It takes 1, count it 1 state to approve this and yet plays about feminism leave this vital information out.
The show ends with “The Bitch is Back.” they sing in glee. I guess it is ok when we call ourselves that.
Madwomen of the West: The Actors Temple Theatre, 339 West 47th Street through December 31.
“Stereophonic” at Playwrights Horizons Sings Solidly
It’s July 1976, in a recording studio in Sausalito, CA and we are being invited into a space that only a select few get to visit, let alone witness. This is art in the making, pure and simple, with ego and love, getting mixed and faded in through the process most musically. In Playwrights Horizons‘s magnificent new play, Stereophonic, written most delicately by David Adjmi (The Blind King Parts I and II), a band on the cusp of greatness has assembled, and they are tasked, casually and with great intent, to something magnificent and meaningful, a lasting piece of musical art, to follow up their last album that has become, over the timeframe, a breakout hit.
The play is exceptionally well framed and constructed; both musical and meandering, in the best of all possible ways, yet somewhere inside Adjmi’s engaging Stereophonicand its three-hour running time, a deeper level of contextual art formulation is unpacked quite beautifully. It saunters forward, with a complicated level of exhaustion, angst, and inspiration, unearthing something that almost defies expectations and compartmentalization. It’s a 1970s rock saga, clearly modeled on the legendary Fleetwood Mac and their dynamic backstage friction, that leans into and plays with the problematic relationships within this unnamed band as they try to create magic behind a glass wall, while also trying to fulfill their emotional needs in the confines of the studio and real life.
It’s all emotional breakups and reconciliations, with a layer of bored and sleep-deprived banter; around a broken coffee machine and the annoying reverberations of (not only) the drum. It’s electric and conflictual, playing havoc on every one of these characters’ insecure hearts, while offering up no grand solutions or final product. Stereophonic is all about the tiny details and the little frustrations that grow and become emotional cannonballs bent on destruction, leveled and defused out of an undercurrent of love and need for creation. It is incandescent in its artful construction, displaying and writing about a realm few of us can understand. It’s the agony and ecstasy that lives and sings inside the magnificent creative process of musicians, arts, singers, and writers, who hear aspects that most of us can’t understand, let alone hear or comprehend. And we have been invited in, to bear witness to its creation, in all its meticulously dull and exhausting detail. Giving light to the darkness of the process, and how art can both create and destroy those involved in its coming to life.
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