To be sure, this is a play about sexual animus, featuring lots of nudity and exploring some issues I could feel ripple uncomfortably through the audience often times revealed in coat moving and the clearing of throats. Really, what has happened to supposedly hip, younger audiences these days? It has been my unfortunate experience lately in New York theatre (especially off-Broadway where often times headier/risky subjects are tackled) that audiences are more than a bit skittish over certain subjects in the light of recent political events and the way the blog o’sphere are telling us we have to react. It’s a phenomena I have seen writ large now quite a few times. Let me give you some examples; in Nibbler a female character “asks” to be raped, at another time a male character describes wild sexual fantasies; you could just hear the audience, now being raised on a diet of PCness we have never seen the likes of, reacting that a woman could say something like that aloud or we might even see a penis once or twice during the show.
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What I especially like about West and was clear in SEX is that she was a woman who was going her own way, at all times, no matter where she might be going or what she might be talking about. A truly independent woman of her time (call her a feminist if you like, I prefer simply considering her a strong-willed creative “person” fearlessly standing up for what she wanted in her life and art) in SEX West explores not just the plight of prostitutes but the question of fate for all her characters trying to live with the choices they make.
Not so much modernized (though there were a few moments of that to be sure) as “abridged” and “revised,” in wholly wild ways The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (Revised) presented on the outdoor stage of The Shakespeare Theatre Of New Jersey, is a spectacular hour and half hour romp ‘round The Bard. Starring Jon Barker, Connor Carew and Patrick Toon we have here a trio equal to the task of making and having fun with this heady well-revered cannon. Truncating running times, running riot round logic (and the two book tower set), making merry by rapping, enlisting audience participation, doing a mock of the terribly tagic Titus Andronicus, via Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” Barker, Carew and Toon keep things ever moving, to an often exhausting revelry, in Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Weinfield’s very clever play.
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It should’ve been a slam dunk as far as I was concerned; I love Ed Harris and the play was a revival of Sam Shepard’s classic “Buried Child,” playing down at one of our fair city’s very best and newest venues, The Pershing Square Signature Center. Well, I wasn’t disappointed in the new and comfortable Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre, nor was I in Mr. Harris (who I actually shook hands with in that gorgeously appointed lobby of the Pershing post show…he couldn’t have been nicer) his wife Amy Madigan as the reality-ignoring semi-shrew Halie, Larry Pine’s quick yet rich turn as Father Dewis, Rich Sommer’s scary yet broken Bradley, seemingly dim-witted but wiser-than-most here Paul Sparks, Nat Wolff eating scenery as Vince and Taissa Farmiga, who manages a performance as stunning in its way as Harris’; Derek McLane’s set design was especially real and at times claustrophobic and director Scott Elliott keeps the action tight pretty much on the couch or on the floor most of the time.
Malcolm Gets and Matt McGrath you truly need to get your ass down to The Pershing Square Signature Center (as much for this limited off-Broadway engagement as to see The Pershing Square space!) and see this hour and almost one half one-act before it closes two days after Christmas.
Takei gets the best humorous moments (and yes there are some even in a play as heavy as this) and his ending scene will bring tears to your eyes (if you aren’t crying before) but the rest of cast here is a delight from the stunning Lea Salonga with her gorgeous pipes, Telly Leung and Christòpheren Nomura to too many others to name here.