Bobbi Boland
ArcLight Theater

Poor Bobbi Boland. Left behind in the wake of the tumultuous sixties, she just doesn't get it. She's caught in a time warp, and she can't get out. She clings desperately to her past, symbolized by the rhinestone tiara resting on a shelf in her living room etagere.  It represents the high point of her life -- when she was crowned Miss Florida 20 years ago.  As the play opens, we find Bobbi giving lessons on social graces to a young girl who lives down the street.

Anne Siegel
Boise
Rattlestick Theater

David Folwell may be the first playwright to use Boise, Idaho, as anyone's realization of Utopia. In his dark, humorous and kinky comedy, <I>Boise</I> becomes the ostensible paradise for two of the play's characters. For one, a notably dysfunctional, disenchanted and disillusioned New Yorker, it becomes an objective. Stewart (Christopher Burns) is clearly frustrated by the predictability his seven-year marriage to Val (Geneva Carr) and his dull middle-management job. At first, Stewart's itch is placated by internet porn and closeted fantasies of an affair.

Simon Saltzman
Bold Girls
29th Street Repertory

Bold Girls by Rona Munro, now at the 29th St. Rep, is deceiving.  Basically it is a "kitchen sink" drama set in Belfast, Ireland, in 1990, with four women whose men are either dead or in jail (we never find out what they did, but insurrection is implied). While the talk and concerns of these working-class women are quite ordinary, an explosion and shots in the background give the atmosphere some tension.

Richmond Shepard
Bomb-itty Of Errors, The
45 Bleecker

As I noted in mid-1999, Shakespeare is invading off-Broadway theater at an alarming rate.  Over the past few years, we've seen the likes of an all-male <I>Romeo & Juliet</I> set at a boys' parochial school (<I>R&J</I>), a disco-fused, nightlife version of <I>A Midsummer Night's Dream</I> (<I>The Donkey Show</I>) and The Public Theater's recent production of <I>Hamlet</I> starring Liev Schreiber, which made a clear case that this wasn't your grandfather's <I>Hamlet.</I>  What these shows prove most of all is that

Jason Clark
Boobs! The Musical
Triad Theater (moved to Dillon's)

Well, Tom Lehrer she wasn't. Nor Allan Sherman nor Randy Newman, all of whom have written satirical (and some serious) songs that enjoyed successful off-Broadway tributes in years past. But the largely forgotten Ruth Wallis did carve out a niche for herself with moderately raunchy, double-entendre-packed ditties throughout the 50s and 60s, the most famous of which gives Steve Mackes and Michael Whaley's new revue its title. Boobs! takes its cue more from the goofy costumage and fast pacing of Howard Crabtree spoofs and gay camp than from standard song- cycle cabarets.

David Lefkowitz
Book of Days
Signature Theater Company at Peter Norton Space

Lanford Wilson's best play in ages makes you feel like he's picked up a rock in Our Town and looked for what crawleth underneath.

David Lefkowitz
Book Of Liz, The
Greenwich Street

I don't agree with a friend who thinks that Comedy Central's wacked-out sitcom "Strangers With Candy" is the best thing on television, but I can certainly see why he would think so. It is a comic program that is truly, genuinely odd and operates on such gonzo logic, it becomes addicting. You just can't wait to see what weirdo will pop up next and what he'll say, and the show's refreshing bravado is appreciated in this age of sanitized blurs mistaken for ace comedy.

Jason Clark
Boston Marriage
Public Theater

A note on the just-closed Boston Marriage by David Mamet: This attempt at a 19th-Century comedy of manners dotted with deliberate anachronisms is Mamet's shot at Wilde, and it wildly misses.

Richmond Shepard
Boxing 2000
Present Company Theatorium

Leave it to the skewed sensibilities of downtown darling Richard Maxwell to fashion a play around amateur boxing – a sport that is equated with agility and speed – and still bless it with his trademark deadpan dialogue.  In his latest effort, Maxwell turns his attentions to two brothers, seemingly products of the street, Jo-Jo (Gary Wilmes) and Freddie (Robert Torres), who are prepping for a small-time fight.  Freddie is a lackadaisical innocent who has half-hearted dreams of college, and Jo-Jo is a working-class ex-fighter who, with a

Jason Clark
Boy Gets Girl
Manhattan Theater Club - Stage I

Boy Gets Girl, the latest from up-and-coming playwright Rebecca Gilman, represents a 2-for-2 in terms of promise unfulfilled for this new voice in the theater.  Critics have been singing her praises ever since the debut of her racially-charged drama, Spinning into Butter, at Lincoln Center last year, citing her willingness to hit on hot-button issues and bring forth

Jason Clark
Brando
Irish Arts Center

Imagine that someone has written a play entitled Brando, exploring the mystique of Marlon Brando, which features a character named Brando, who is actually supposed to be Marlon Brando, and that this character is rendered as a fat joke, nothing more.

You'd have an idea just how cluelessly awful this play is.

David Steinhardt
Adi Braun
Iridium

I had a surreal experienced at the Sunday Jazz Brunch at Iridium on 51st and Broadway. Here's a fine singer, Adi Braun, with a wide and flexible range of voice and songs, doing a sophisticated performance for an audience of tourists and their kids having lunch. So this brave, talented singer had to stand up there doing her thing, paying no attention to the conversational murmur (with an occasional high-pitched "Daddy, can I have some more?" drifting thru the room). She's a trouper -- did it with a smile and the vocal subtleties of a top-notch jazz singer.

Richmond Shepard
Brave, The
Atlantic Theater

The impetus for Sharman Macdonald's plot is a pleasantly intriguing one.  Straight off the plane, a Scottish woman fends off a would-be Algerian rapist with a fatal karate chop.  After innumerable contretemps and with the aid of three other Scots, the body receives a desert burial.  In this North American premiere production, the scenario unfortunately becomes an awfully short clothesline on which to hang Scottish nationalism, feminism, anti-colonialism, and other worthy progressive causes.  Director David Mowers presented the misadven

David Lipfert
Breaker
Dixon Place

One of the most beautiful, moving theater happenings in NYC is Breaker: An Aerial Fairie Tale, performed by five women trapeze artists and a four-piece jazz group. A circus rises into the air from the sea, and we fly with them.

Richmond Shepard
bridge and tunnel
45 Bleecker

In the extraordinary one woman show, Bridge & Tunnel, written and performed by Sarah Jones and playing at 45 Bleeker Street, Jones gives us a succession of immigrant characters, mostly living in Queens, whose lives and personas are explored with amazing sensitivity and skill as she, with minimal costume changes, switches from male to female, from old to young, and to accents from all over the world.

Richmond Shepard
Broad Channel
Phil Bosakowski Theater

One of my CUNY PhD students lived in a tiny clapboard house in Broad Channel, Queens. Just under the flight-pattern into Idlewild Airport - now JFK. When I first drove there in my old VW, I thought I was driving into a wetlands area. Everyone seemed to have at least a rowboat tethered on canals back of their houses. Most of the good folks I met there were shanty Irish, with scant aspirations of earning midtown Doctorates in Theater.

Glenn Loney
Broadway By The Year: 1933
Town Hall

The brainchild of its genial and informed host and popular critic/author Scott Siegel, Broadway By The Year moves into its second season with a modest but vastly entertaining show that commemorates many forgotten and now fabled songs: "The Broadway Shows of 1933." Without sets and costumes and offering little of what you would call choreography, five charming performers -- Mary Testa, George Dvorsky, Mary Bond Davis, Anne Runolfsson and Mark Coffin -- bring their winning

Simon Saltzman
Broadway By The Year: 1960
Town Hall

Not only has the "Broadway By The Year" series continued to attract the attention and admiration of musical theater lovers, but the recent edition, The Broadway Musicals of 1960, proves to be the best so far. You  might be tempted to say 1960 wasn't that brilliant a season for musicals to be considered classics, and that many of the most tuneful shows were actually flops.

Simon Saltzman
Broadway By The Year: 1963
Town Hall

In just two seasons, Scott Siegel, the creator, writer and host of "The Broadway Musicals of..." series, has made these shows the talk of the town...with nary a Tony nomination in sight. This absolutely wonderful show happens only on Monday nights five times a season at Town Hall. Siegel's clever idea to present musical salutes to those songs from vintage shows produced during a selected calendar year, whether a hit or flop, and that deserve to be heard again, has caught on big with the public.

Simon Saltzman
Brothers And Sisters - Part I
John Jay College Theater

This is the first time New York audiences have seen Lev Dodin's well-traveled production of Brothers And Sisters, which dates from the precise beginning of perestroika in 1985.  Russians would be in a better position to grasp the irony in this adaptation of Fyodor Abramov's trilogy of novels about vi

David Lipfert
Brothers And Sisters - Part II
John Jay College Theater

Part of Lincoln Center Festival 2000, this stage adaptation of Fyodor Abramov's trilogy of life in Russia's Far North continues over a second evening to show the same village five years after the end of WWII. 

In this more somber Part II, the villagers' mood is temporarily lifted by a film clip of smiling peasants harvesting wheat -- until it is announced that the st

David Lipfert
Bruce Vilanch
Westbeth Theater Center

 moppet-haired guy who usually sits to the left of center square Whoopi Goldberg on "Hollywood Squares" is the latest Hollywood denizen to get his own one-man gig.  While amusing at times, Bruce Vilanch's humorous diatribe exploring his long life as a gag writer, celebrity emergency jokester and sometime actor is seriously under-imagined and never as funny as the awards shows he has made a lucrative career writing for, it's almost like watching the outtakes of material that wasn't quite gut-busting enough to make it into Billy Crystal's oeuvre.

Jason Clark
Brutal Imagination
Vineyard Theater

Here's the concept: the black guy that South Carolina mom Susan Smith conjured up as a scapegoat when she drove her two kids into a lake takes on a life of his own and becomes various metaphorical representations of how America treated black people in the past century. Apart from an impressive lighting design and a host of familiar agit-prop gimmicks, that's the most imaginative idea to be found in Cornelius Eady, Diedre Murray and Diane Paulus' poetic satire. There's no drama here, only lots of narration, free-verse blather, emoting and oh-so-familiar liberal guilt.

David Lefkowitz
Brutal Imagination
Vineyard Theater

The horrifying details of the crime of Union County South Carolina resident Susan Smith are given a pretentiously lyrical but also compelling resonance in Brutal Imagination. Smith was charged and convicted in 1994 of the death of her two young sons, Michael, age 3, and Alexander, age 14 months. Smith had strapped them securely in the back seat of her car that she then pushed into a lake. The incidents surrounding the case are shown through an abstracted fiction laced with factual reportage. That particularized fiction is called Mr.

Simon Saltzman
Bug
Barrow Street Theater

Bug by Tracy Letts, now at the Barrow Street Theater, is a naturalistic slice of motel life among working-class Oklahomans performed by actors with a sense of being seldom seen on the stage today. We are looking through the wall where a real life seems to be going on. Shannon Cochran, Michael Shannon, Amy Landecker, Michel Cullen and Reed Birney are a rare acting ensemble, directed with an enthralling sense of timing by Dexter Bullard.

Richmond Shepard
Bug
Barrow Street Theater

Agnes White's options are slim and grim from the moment we encounter her in Tracy Letts' apocalyptic thriller, Bug. Just released from prison, there's her hulking ex-husband Jerry Goss, who terrorizes her with silent phone calls before he arrives and punches her out.

Perry Tannenbaum
Burn This
Union Square Theater

Watchable but not especially rewarding revival of Lanford Wilson's tale of a grieving woman finding solace in hot nookie with a vaguely dangerous asshole. I was lucky enough to see the original production, with John Malkovich torching the stage indelibly, albeit to the detriment of the love story's credibility - i.e., what did Joan Allen's Anna see in him? With Edward Norton's funnier, greasier turn, Pale's  tantrums are more childlike and less overtly threatening, though there's still an oil-and-vinaigrette taste to their twosome.

David Lefkowitz
Burn This
Union Square Theater

There's a little deja-vu in Signature Theater's revival of Lanford Wilson's 1987 play, Burn This, for those who have recently seen Broadway's Frankie & Johnny in the Claire de Lune, another romance between two diametrically opposite characters.

Jeannie Lieberman
Burn This
Union Square Theater

This review of the current revival of Lanford Wilson's Burn This comes in two parts: What it is and what it could (and perhaps should) be.

Richmond Shepard
Burn This
Union Square Theater

All four roles in Lanford Wilson's taut chamber piece have fascinating contours. For me, there's a fine spontaneity elevating this drama above the playwright's other fare. But for Burn This to work overwhelmingly, the chemistry between Anna and Pale -- radical opposites who attract -- must convincingly combust. She's a dancer mourning the death of her gay roommate.

Perry Tannenbaum
Bush Is Bad
Triad Theater

Bush is Bad is a first-class political satire that goes far beyond the obvious. The three highly talented performers -- Janet Dickinson, Neal Mayer and Michael McCoy -- are comedians with strong musical voices and actors who can fully realize the many characters each plays.  Janet as Condoleeza Rice is brilliant, including a riff on the piano.

Richmond Shephard
Butter And Egg Man, The
Atlantic Theater

There are entertaining moments in The Butter and Egg Man, but you can see clearly why George S. Kaufman joined with other writers in his subsequent works. There are good gags in this play about a novice going into showbusiness, and clever lines, but it's a creaky antique that doesn't work anymore.

In act two director David Pittu has everybody shouting, but that doesn't engage us as we are asked to identify with a lucky idiot. John Ellison Conlee's acting gives the play a better balance towards the end, but "the play's the thing" -- and this ain't it.

Richmond Shepard
Butterfly Dreams
Bank Street Theater

The best stories of all are the ones that teach us something, still better if they are true.  This Chinese tale is based on the life of Zhuang Zhou, noted philosopher of the Confucian school.  He absented himself from society for long periods to continue his quest for wisdom (Tao).  Even coming closer to his goal did not prevent him from misjudging human nature.  Returning home as a sage after ten years, he pronounced such imponderables as "true feelings are without emotions." He is credited with the speculation as to whether he was re

David Lipfert
Ordinary People
OnStage Playhouse

About two years ago, the Jarrett family suffered the loss of
their oldest son Buck, while sailing with his younger brother, Conrad. A freak
storm dismasted the sailboat. Buck, a sports jock and all round fun guy,
drowned. Judith Guest's book, "Ordinary People," dramatized by Nancy Gilsenan,
explores the effect of this tragedy on the family.

Robert Hitchcox
Thirty Nine Steps, The
American Airlines Theater

Alfred Hitchock''s The 39 Steps, now on Broadway, is a great way to start the new year. Adapted (or rather deconstructed and reconstructed) by Patrick Barlow from the film, brilliantly directed with impeccable timing and grand innovation by Maria Aitken, this is a stylized melodrama played seriously by a team of master farceurs.

Richmond Shepard
39 Steps, The

See all Criticopia reviews under "Thirty Nine Steps, The"

39 Steps, The

see Criticopia review under "Thirty Nine Steps, The" 

Doubt
Florida State University Center for the Performing Arts - Mertz Theater

"What do you do when you're not sure, ...lack God's guidance?"

Marie J. Kilker
New Jerusalem
Classic Stage Company

"New Jerusalem - The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza at Talmud Torah Congregation: Amsterdam, July 27, 1656" by David Ives. What a title! What a play! How often do we see a play that expounds ideas, philosophical and practical, that wake up the corners of our minds in fascinating dramatic fashion?

Richmond Shepard
Cemetery Club, The
PowPAC

It has been just over ten years since I last saw The
Cemetery Club
at Scripps Ranch Community Theater, just a piece down
the road from PowPAC. Now it's Poway's turn to house
this charming play. Kate Hewitt is at the helm, directing a fine cast. Her designer,
Raylene J. Wall, has provided a well-lived-in set and a unique and very
personal setting for the cemetery. I got just a touch of déjà vu
remembering that Wall directed that other version ten years ago.

Robert Hitchcox

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