Travesties by Tom Stoppard
Roundabout Theatre / directed by Patrick Marber
Seen on June 13, 2018
Thumbs-up: Overwhelmingly strong cast, especially Tom Hollander as Henry Carr and Peter McDonald as James Joyce. Perfect physicality. Immaculate transitions between scenes. Intricate yet digestible scenic design.
Thumbs-down: Actors’ occasional self-consciousness about their theatricality, which led to a few discomforting exaggerations. Also, pacing: I am aware (and do appreciate) that this play is supposed to feel like a high-octane roller coaster ride, but there were certain moments when the fast pace of delivery went even beyond that.
Notes: This is a supremely inventive, thought-provoking, and entertaining play, and Marber’s production truly did justice to it.
Our Lady of 121st Street by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Signature Theatre / directed by Phylicia Rashad
Seen on June 6, 2018
Thumbs-up: John Doman as Father Lux, Quincy Tyler Bernstine as Inez, and Maki Borden as Pinky.
Thumbs-down: Much of my discontent comes from the play itself, which I found to be dramaturgically poor and too rambly about the discourses it taps/dips into.
There were quite a few times when I felt as though I was watching a rehearsal rather than a finished product. Scene endings were often awkward and lacked definitiveness. The set design was unnecessarily confusing (and uninspired) and really pulled down the overall aesthetic of the production.
Notes: I should acknowledge and commend the great energy, and humor, of certain golden moments in the play. Sadly, these short-lived peaks remained only as such and did not extend their influence to the rest of the work.
Othello by William Shakespeare
The Public Theater / directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson
Seen on June 3, 2018
Thumbs-up: Corey Stoll as Iago—not the pointy epitome of evil, but a more casual, almost everyday, strain of ill will and greed. Chukwudi Iwuji as Othello—at home even at the various extremes of his character, especially superb in his scenes with Iago.
Thumbs-down: Heather Lind as Desdemona. I appreciate the attempt to portray Desdemona as a necessarily defiant and strong-willed woman, but it all felt inconsistent and inchoate. She did not elicit my pathos.
The music in transitions felt cheap and gimmicky. The show could have been blocked with more attention to the views from the sides; overall, the space was not used to its full potential.
Notes: The last half hour was performed in the rain. The resulting spectacle was visually stunning and added much to the feel of the play’s conclusion.