New This Week:
|This year's A.E. Hotchner playwrights|
L-R: Elizabeth Brown, Kelly Minster, Sophie Tegnu
My take: What are the next generation of playwrights up to? What are their concerns? Washington University gives us a yearly glilmpse into the future with the Hotchner festival. This year the focus is on out-of-kilter families and that leap of faith known as marriage. Maybe they're hits, maybe they're misses, but there's no way to know without showing up. And the price is certainly right!
|Angels in America, Part 2|
Photo by ProPhotoSTL
My take: Angels in America: Gay Fantasia on National Themes (to quote its full title) is, effectively, an opera with no singing. It's a sweeping, unapologetically theatrical examination of some of the most basic of human ideas: love, death, loyalty, commitment, community and lots of other things that are usually capitalized when we discuss them. It's an epic tale told, as the best epics are, through the lives of a collection of flawed and fascinating characters. I saw Part 1 last weekend was sufficiently blown away by the quality of the Rep's production to recommend both parts without reservation. Yes, they're very long shows--Part 1 clocks in at around 3:15 with two intermissions and Part 2 (in the current revision, which dates from 2013) at around 3:30. Trust me, you'll never notice the length. Kushner's writing is so deft and this production so brilliantly acted and directed that the time flies like, well, an angel. I'd put this version of Angels right up there with the stunning production Stray Dog did in 2012, and that's high praise indeed.
|Man of La Mancha|
Photo by ProPhotoSTL
My take: Winner of five Tony awards and four Variety Poll of Drama Critics awards and with an impressive track record of 2,329 performances on Broadway, Man of La Mancha has remained enduringly popular since its first performance on the Great White Way in 1965. The Stages production demonstrates forcefully what that is the case. The drama, comedy, and (above all) the inspiring message about the importance of "achieving the impossible" by "attempting the absurd" (to cite the Miguel Unamuno quote that inspired Dale Wasserman to write the show in the first place) come through loud and clear. If you're a fan of this play, you won't want to miss this one. It's a polished and moving way to close their current season. And it's even performed in its original one act format, running right at two hours and feeling much shorter.