Theater

  • April 14, 2014

    When a character gives a speech in a play—whether it is a soul-searching soliloquy, a public testimony or a bona fide bit of chest-thumping oratory—it functions somewhat like a song in a musical. It takes us out of the realm of ordinary dialogue, to a place either inside a person’s deepest thoughts or hovering somewhere slightly above the action, commenting on it.

  • January 20-27, 2014

    Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie first appeared on Broadway in 1945, beginning what would be a wave of great American plays about troubled families. Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” and “Death of a Salesman,” William Inge’s “Picnic,” Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey into Night” and Williams’s own “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”—all treated their audiences to portrayals of the family homes as prisons, the parents as monsters and the young people...

  • February 10, 2014

    It has four main characters, little set to speak of and even less in the way of stage action: “Nothing happens, twice,” as one critic wrote of an early production, is not an unjust plot summary. So how does Samuel Beckett’s bleak 1953 tragicomedy Waiting for Godot manage to seem so capacious, so rich, so—occasionally, at least—rip-roaringly fun?

  • January 6-13, 2014

    New York found itself awash in Shakespeare this season, and the best of it, it is only fair to report, has traversed the Atlantic from the playwright’s homeland: a shuddering, immersive “Julius Caesar” set in a women’s prison, imported from London’s Donmar Warehouse to St. Ann’ s Warehouse in Brooklyn in late October, and a pair of Broadway hits still running in repertory, “Richard III” and “Twelfth Night,” that come to us from Shakespeare’s Globe, also in...

  • November 25, 2013

    In November 1931, America’s drama critic, Elizabeth Jordan, began her review of Eugene O’Neill’s play, “Mourning Becomes Electra,” with the following pointed sentences:

    We were seated in the Guild Theater, following Eugene O’Neill’s latest and most passionate denunciation of life and living, “Mourning Becomes Electra.” To his notion, seemingly, we should all be dead. There were those in the audience who...

  • Tennessee Williams’s “The Glass Menagerie” first appeared on Broadway in 1944, beginning what would be a wave of great American plays about troubled families. Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” and “Death of a Salesman,” William Inge’s “Picnic,” Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey into Night” and Williams’s own “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” all treated their audiences to portrayals of the family home as prison, the parents as monsters and the young people desperately longing to escape.

  • There’s a classic bit of advice for actors: Walk into the audition thinking of yourself as the solution to the director’s problem; be that solution and you’ve got the part. Closing the deal is a steeper challenge for the cutthroat salesmen in David Mamet’s 1983 masterpiece Glengarry Glen Ross, now getting a gripping if lopsided Broadway revival starring Al Pacino. The customers these salesmen go after—mostly offstage, with one telling exception—must be convinced they have a problem...

  • November 19, 2012
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    Every now and then, a good film or play can gain an added resonance when it coincides with current events. Lisa D’Amour’s portrayal of two destructive marriages, Detroit, is enjoying a sold-out off-Broadway run at a time when its eponymous city is in the public eye. The Tigers made it to the World Series; one of its native sons ran for president; and a documentary about its challenges is playing in movie theaters (see pg. 26).

  • November 19, 2012
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    Absurdly tall wigs held aloft by stage wires. A talking sheep. An 18th-century queen who speaks like a modern-day valley girl. Acclaimed playwright David Adjmi’s “Marie Antoinette” is no typical look at the guillotined French royal.

  • October 1, 2012
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    The movement of people from one country to another, which is one of the principal characteristics of globalization, has been an inescapable part of the Irish consciousness for more than a century and a half. “No custom has been more native to the country than getting out of it,” wrote the critic Terry Eagleton of Ireland’s sad history of emigration, in which her greatest export was her sons and daughters. An unexpected chapter of that story is now being written after the demise of the Celtic...