Tag Archives: american theatre

Steppenwolf Theatre: The Flick

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After being completely blown away by the amazing Laurie Metcalf on Broadway, seeing a play produced by Steppehnwolf Theatre was a natural choice. I consider it lucky, when one arrives in a new city, and it welcomes the newcomer with nothing more nothing less but a theatre week.

With more than 100 shows on offer at a reduced price, Chicago had a lot to offer. It even has its  own Broadway. But, as a piece of a personal advice, go to the actual New York Broadway to see a Broadway production, if you have a chance. Why settle for the second best, when Chicago theatre community has a lot to offer anyway.

Being a theatre student myself, I knew about Steppenwolf long before going to Chicago. One of North America’s most famous theatre companies, it has given the world such great actors as Joan Allen, John Malkovich, Jeff Perry and, of course, the above mentioned Laurie Metcalf.

The Flick is a big play about small people. Written by Annie Baker and directed by Dexter Bullard, The Flick tells us the story of Sam (played by Danny McCarthy), Rose (played by Caroline Neff) and Avery (played by Travis Turner), who all work as ushers in an old run-down small town Massachusetts movie theatre that still shows movies on 35mm film. Sam is a thirty-something guy who has no big life ambitions. He gets by with whatever he’s got. He is in love with Rose, but too insecure about himself to tell her. Rose, who has been recently promoted (over Sam) to the position of projector operator, an easy going girl who cares about nothing and nobody. Avery is a twenty-something college student who has just started working in the cinema. Unlike his workmates, Avery is a cinema connoisseur, he can link any actor to another actor by creating a chain of films and people they’ve worked with. Avery took up this job solemnly because he is fascinated with the old moving theaters that are still showing pictures on 35 mm film. Avery is a person that could’ve been a genius, a cinema prodigy, had he not been the awkward depressed small town drop out, fighting with anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

The whole play is being staged around Sam and Avery talking while cleaning the cinema auditoriums after screenings. The beautifully built set was designed in a such a way that, be it a real cinema, the audience would be the big screen and the actors on stage – the audience. There was also a second floor (the projector room), which was used by the actors from time to time. A very unusual and quite intriguing technique that was used here: the upstairs room was completely audio isolated from the audience, so we could see the actors but nor hear them.

The Flick is one of those plays that doesn’t feel like a play; it’s more like eavesdropping on somebody’s life. Through what looks like simple dialogues, we witness the big tragedy of an individual, a small person trapped in a big fast changing world. We also become witnesses of the end of an era: the takeover of the world by the digital technology.

In this slowly paced (sometimes, too slowly for my liking) dramatic comedy, the actors beautifully portray their characters. The awkwardness of Avery, the easy-goingness of Rose or the carelessness of Sam: those are all great examples of real life people, easy to understand and to connect to.

This play, presented in the absolutely absence of the theatrical grandeur, wins the audience over by its very naturalistic, close to real life, staging and acting.

The Flick by Steppenwolf Theatre runs until May 8th, 2016. For more info or to book tickets, please, visit: https://www.steppenwolf.org/

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Filed under Chicago Theatres, laurie metcalf, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, The Flick

Broadhurst Theatre: Misery

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When you are in love with theatre, it’s impossible to go to New York and not see a show. Any show. The lights and the buzz around Broadway are all too tempting not to be lured in. Such big names as The Lion King, Phantom of The Opera, Matilda The Musical, etc etc are flashing on the big screens of  Times Square inviting you to come in and see for yourself some of the highlights on some of the world’s best stages.

I’m somewhat more of a play person rather than musicals. So, when going to the tickets office on Times Square, I just wanted to see a play. Any play. Somewhere in my memory there was a recollection of having seen ads for Misery that was showing in The Broadhurst Theatre on 44th Str. The screen outside the office box was announcing that there was a 50% discount for Misery that day.

The tickets were equally expensive for all the plays (it’s Broadway after all), so in for a penny, we thought… it’s not something we will be doing every night, so for the sake of one time let’s go big. And we settled on Misery.

In this version directed by Will Frears, Misery features such big names as Laurie Metcalf (playing Annie) and Bruce Willis (playing Paul Sheldon). This play, based on the same-name novel by Stephen King, tells the story of a famous chick-lit writer Paul Sheldon, who was rescued from an almost lethal car crash by Annie. Coincidentally, Annie isn’t only a good samaritan, she is also Sheldon’s fan number one (and there ain’t number two, according to her). Having both legs severely damaged in the accident, Sheldon has no choice but to be subdued to Annie’s 24h care. But it looks like the good old Annie might be after something more than just bringing back onto his feet the famous writer.

This suspense thriller is, without doubt, one of my favourite titles by King. And this production does it justice once and for all. The absolutely wonderful performances given by both actors on stage steals your heart from the very first minute. I must say that Metcalf is absolutely amazing as Annie. She doesn’t only show her mad side, but also reveals her beauty and humanity. Her performance made me feel sympathy towards this poor lady, who is trapped in the world of reality and fiction drama.

Willis himself isn’t bad at all. I’m not a fan and must admit that I had no expectations what so ever. But after finding out that it was his Broadway debut, I was pretty surprised. The first theatre role and such a challenging one. It’s not easy to sustain a 90 min performance being hugely restrained in movement and only able to move around only in a somewhat awkward wheelchair. And Willis did it believably and bravely well.

Another point that I can’t help but share is the set design. I understand that budget is a term pretty much non-existing on Broadway, but what David Korins did with the stage is simply amazing. An almost entire rotating house was built! I’ve never seen anything of that quality in my life. A very impressive decision it was that contributed not only as a set for the stage, but also as a set of mind. In a number of scenes the house was moving together with the actors either standing or moving with it, which created a beautiful feel of time, space and urgency.

Another thing that differs this play from those ones I would normally be used to in Dublin is that Misery had a soundtrack. Some really easily recognizable tunes added to the whole atmosphere of the piece.

Unfortunately, Misery has drawn its last curtain yesterday on February 14th. A performance that introduced me to Broadway shall never be forgotten. For more info about the play: http://www.miserybroadway.com/castcreative/

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Filed under Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway, Misery

Teacher’s Club: By the Bi (Dublin Gay Theatre Festival)

For the 12th time in history Dublin Gay Theatre Festival has finally arrived in the Irish capital. This year the Festival offers a number of shows and performances: everything from Drama to Music and Dance. Running from the 4th of May till the 17th, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. On the 22nd of May Ireland is facing Equality Marriage Referendum.

“… I didn’t ask to be gay, but your hatred is a choice that you make every day” By the Bi. 

There is still time. Make a difference. Vote YES.

Having already booked some tickets for a couple of shows, I was very lucky to win a pair of tickets to see “By the Bi“, a new play by The Blazing Change Players, which was advertised as a musical.

Just to make it clear from the start: it’s not a musical, not even close. By the Bi is an ensemble piece with spoken words, contemporary dance and… well, yes, music. But only used to create a sort of an atmosphere while the actors deliver their lines.

I can’t recall seeing anything of such a structure before, so I can’t (neither shall I) compare. The structure really does work beautifully for this particular piece: spoken word organically combines with the scenes being silently performed by the actors at the same time. It’s definitely not a traditional type of theatre and I did get a feeling that it might be an American thing (since the theatre company comes from the USA). To be honest, it was an interesting combination.

With a very basic stage and an absolute lack of props The Blazing Co managed to create a very vivid and touching piece of theatre. The issue they chose was a difficult one. And I really want to quote here “The B in LGBT is often silent”. Living in this society we do talk about gay people and about straight people. We do talk about transgenders and transvestites. But who talks about bisexuals? Who cares about them? The are described as “invisible people” drifting from shore to shore and not being accepted and/or understood by any side. It’s like everyone expects them to choose a side. As if being a bisexual isn’t already a choice in itself.

The play made me think that if every representer of the new generation was as understanding and as accepting as this young actors and actresses are, we will be ok!

The play runs until Saturday, the 9th. It’s a beautiful piece of theatre, NOT TO BE MISSED! For more info or to book, visit: https://gaytheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873530626/events?TSLVq=13ef3d58-c641-4a11-8bfd-233c694845bf&TSLVp=ba392f19-9198-4504-b9ed-1a966891e04a&TSLVts=1430781065&TSLVc=ticketsolve&TSLVe=gaytheatre&TSLVrt=Safetynet&TSLVh=99d14df10a5930a2486820218ed5c22f

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Filed under By the Bi, Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, Equality, Teacher's Club, The Blazing Change Players