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2009: The year in theater

Stage worthies
A quick look at this past year in Boston's theater scene.
By: CAROLYN CLAY  |  December 21, 2009


Joyful noise

Best of Both Worlds rocks The Winter's Tale
From the clamorous arrival of some ghetto hot wheels to a scorching gospel finale, Best of Both Worlds warms up The Winter's Tale . The third entry in American Repertory Theater's Shakespeare Exploded! Festival, this sizzling and soulful gloss on the Bard's late romance mines Shakespeare's time- and realm-hopping fairy tale.
By: CAROLYN CLAY  |  December 09, 2009


No country for old men

Shipwrecked! at the Lyric; Heroes in Lowell
Louis de Rougemont makes James Frey look like a documentarian. A sickly Victorian lad who arose from his cot, knocked around the Southern Hemisphere for a while, and returned to England with a hifalutin new moniker and captivating tales of seafaring perils and aboriginal idylls, he was the subject of a popular serialized autobiography.
By: CAROLYN CLAY  |  December 01, 2009


Lincoln Yule log

The Huntington celebrates A Civil War Christmas
Abraham Lincoln, as he said in his second inaugural address, yearned to "bind up the nation's wounds." Since the great man was assassinated little more than a month later, he didn't quite get around to it. No worry, Paula Vogel has taken over the job with A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration.
By: CAROLYN CLAY  |  November 24, 2009


Dodging death

Reckless, The Salt Girl, and The Overwhelming
Even the sweetest life can shatter in an instant, sending you through the looking glass like Alice. For the euphoric heroine of Craig Lucas's 1988 fable of holiday festivity and arbitrary mayhem, Reckless the moment of reckoning comes when her husband tearfully confesses, on Christmas Eve, that he has taken out a contract on her life.
By: CAROLYN CLAY  |  November 18, 2009


Mars vs. Venus

Speed-the-Plow; The Taming of the Shrew; A Long and Winding Road
It’s been 21 years since Speed-the-Plow first milked the cravenness of Hollywood and the self-described “whores” who turn its celluloid tricks. But David Mamet’s scathing, staccato comedy has held up at least as well as Madonna, who made her Broadway debut in the original 1988 production.
By: CAROLYN CLAY  |  October 28, 2009


Only connect

The Lyric answers the call of Dead Man’s Cell Phone
Usually when a cell phone goes off in the theater, you want to kill someone. In the case of Dead Man’s Cell Phone , that’s not necessary.
By: CAROLYN CLAY  |  October 20, 2009


The games people play

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; The Caretaker; Little Black Dress
Who’s afraid of Edward Albee?
By: CAROLYN CLAY  |  October 07, 2009


Black beauty

Fences, plus The Savannah Disputation and Mister Roberts
August Wilson pioneered a magical realism all his own.
By: CAROLYN CLAY  |  September 22, 2009


Disco ball

The Donkey Show gets its kicks at the ART
C-dust pinch-hits for fairy dust in The Donkey Show , Diane Paulus & Randy Weiner's disco-set riff on A Midsummer Night's Dream . Forget the juice of "a little western flower" with which fairy king Oberon and hench-sprite Puck mix up the libidos of the hormone-drenched characters charging through Shakespeare's Athenian wood.
By: CAROLYN CLAY  |  September 17, 2009


Autumn garden

Fall on Boston boards
It's freshman and sophomore year on the Boston rialto, with American Repertory Theater artistic director Diane Paulus introducing her first season and Huntington Theatre Company honcho Peter DuBois endeavoring to survive his second.
By: CAROLYN CLAY  |  September 14, 2009


Twin peaks

The Comedy of Errors on Boston Common
The bay of Ephesus laps Collins Avenue in Commonwealth Shakespeare Company's Latin-tinged, frisky if over-frenetic The Comedy of Errors (at the Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common through August 16). It is not across sands of subtlety but through a spray of salsa that the perpetrators of this 1930s-South-Beach-set riff on Shakespeare's early comedy pratfall.
By: CAROLYN CLAY  |  August 12, 2009

jersey list

Seasons' greetings

Jersey Boys walks like a man
It may not be December 1963, but oh what a night is Jersey Boys (at the Shubert Theatre through September 26) for boomers wishing to enjoy the soundtrack of their youth set against a mix of Forever Plaid and GoodFellas .
By: CAROLYN CLAY  |  August 04, 2009


Hare belles

Divas Plum and Carroll exude The Breath of Life
With apologies to Winston Churchill, The Breath of Life is a cliché wrapped in an enigma — or two. On the face of it, award-winning British writer David Hare's ruthless yet sentimental two-hander (at Gloucester Stage through August 2) is a standard confrontation between a betrayed wife and her husband's long-time mistress.
By: CAROLYN CLAY  |  July 28, 2009


Quake and Shake

Company One meshes Murakami; Orfeo compacts the Bard
A tenderhearted yarn spinner tells an anxious little girl a story about a talking bear hawking honey. A nerdy young debt collector comes home to find a six-foot amphibian bent on recruiting him to save Tokyo from a natural disaster. Both scenarios emanate from the brain of award-winning Japanese writer Haruki Murakami.
By: CAROLYN CLAY  |  July 22, 2009


Violet hour

The Color Purple is vivid on stage
The color purple describes both kids' icon Barney and a bruise. And sure enough, both child-friendly uplift and florid abrasion are wound into the sprawling, heartfelt musical based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer-winning 1982 novel about a beaten-down young black woman learning to value herself over the course of 40 years in the first half of the 20th century.
By: CAROLYN CLAY  |  June 23, 2009


Ducks and dicks

The ART revisits early Mamet
If the American Repertory Theatre is renewing its vows to David Mamet, several of whose plays it premiered in the 1990s, the double bill of The Duck Variations and Sexual Perversity in Chicago will do nicely for something old and something blue.
By: CAROLYN CLAY  |  June 16, 2009


Tender mercenaries

Foote's Estate moves to Hartford
If Chekhov had been home on the range instead of the steppes, he would have been Horton Foote.
By: CAROLYN CLAY  |  June 10, 2009


Cracking the wise

Mamet’s Romance with ART; ASP’s Much Ado About Nothing
I don’t know that David Mamet’s is a fine Romance , and it certainly doesn’t conjure love at first scene.
By: CAROLYN CLAY  |  May 20, 2009

lady list

Lady of the Sea

If all you know of the Aran Islands is the plays of Martin McDonagh, you probably think their populace is an untamed and violent lot.
If all you know of the Aran Islands is the plays of Martin McDonagh, you probably think their populace is an untamed and violent lot.
By: CAROLYN CLAY  |  May 13, 2009


Odd couples

The Lyric's Grey Gardens; Trinity's Shapeshifter
The East Hampton Board of Health would doubtless approve Grey Gardens: The Musical , since it comes minus the crapping cats, feral raccoons, and piles of garbage that form the supporting cast and unsanitary milieu of the famed documentary on which it's based.
By: CAROLYN CLAY  |  May 12, 2009

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