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Posted on 09/23/13
Photo from Women or Nothing
Photo: Kevin Thomas Garcia

B-

Although the majority of critics call Women or Nothing "a perfectly acceptable way to pass an evening," few are willing to go much further with their praise. Complaints focus mostly on the writing: Remarks about the implausibility of many of the plot points abound, and a number of reviewers note that the play feels "unfinished" or "undercooked" (several mention that the audience sat in silence after the final blackout, seemingly awaiting another scene to tie the piece together). But high marks go to David Cromer's "stylish" "impeccable" direction and the "boho-chic" set, and Deborah Rush is lauded across the board for her "delectable," "deadly funny," and "delightfully droll" performance as one of the leads' moms.


Posted on 09/23/13
Photo from Romeo and Juliet
Photo: Carol Rosegg

C

The Capulets and the Montagues aren’t the only ones who aren’t overly enthused about these star-crossed lovers. The critical consensus is mixed at best, although there’s little uniform agreement. There are supporters and detractors for each actor in the ensemble, amid general criticism of miscasting and lack of chemistry between the leads, though the secondary characters fare better, with Jayne Houdyshell receiving the bulk of positive comments for her spirited portrayal of Juliet’s Nurse. Director David Leveaux receives pointed criticism for many of his choices—including the interracial casting of the Montagues and Capulets—which many critics consider ineffectual gimmicks.


Posted on 09/23/13
Photo from Fetch Clay, Make Man
Photo: Joan Marcus

B+

Admiring critics inevitably describe this boxing-themed show as a "knockout"--and the boxing metaphors never stop. The Daily News calls it "an evening that delivers such a potent and satisfying wallop." BroadwayWorld says the show "floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee." The Voice notes its "gift of the jab" and "fine footwork." Even the Times critic says the playwright "tosses interesting ideas and contrasting characters into the ring," though ultimately he thinks "the play bobs and weaves among a host of subplots."


Posted on 09/19/13

B

The reviews for Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play fall into two camps: those that hail the production as an original and enlightening work of genius (with or without flaws, depending on the reviewer), and those that have serious grievances about the execution of an otherwise intriguing premise. The play seems to have a polarizing effect on critics, garnering raves like "spectacularly original" "downright brilliant" and "even better than its hype," as well as groans including "more wrong-headed than a three-eyed fish." Complaints about the play being "flabby," "insufferable," "tedious," and "yawn-inducing" indicate that editing might have cushioned the negativity, but for the critics who loved Mr. Burns, it stands out as "one of the smartest and most delightfully original shows to come along in a long while."


Posted on 09/19/13
Photo from stop. reset.
Photo: Joan Marcus

C+

The majority of reviewers agree on one thing: playwrights shouldn’t direct their own work. Regina Taylor’s play covers much ground, discussing “race and image, sex and politics” but this “often bewildering piece” (the Times’ Isherwood) “rarely takes flight” (Time Out’s Cote). The set and projections are applauded, along with the cast, but even those who find aspects of the production “intriguing and often becomes surprisingly funny” (Sommers, New Jersey Newsroom) conclude that the play is “too dense with character details and vague in outcome.”


Posted on 09/17/13
Photo from The Old Friends
Photo: Joan Marcus

B+

Many critics point out that The Old Friends doesn't quite seem like a Horton Foote play, although it takes place in the same town as his other plays. They write that this boozy and soap opera-like saga feels like his attempt at a Tennessee Williams play, and there are differences of opinion at whether or not he succeeds. Critics also disagree about whether frequent Foote director Michael Wilson overcomes the play's problems. But most critics agree that the performances make this play worth seeing, especially Hallie Foote, who many critics feel is the best interpreter of her father's work.


Posted on 09/16/13
Photo from The Hill Town Plays
Photo: Sandra Coudert

C-

As the inaugural playwright for Rattlestick's theater:village festival, Lucy Thurber takes several hits for what is seemingly an honor. A downtown playwright with a cult following, Thurber gets five simultaneous productions, and it invites intense scrutiny rather than celebration from most critics. For every strength (a gritty focus on the under-theatricalized working class), the critics find at least two weaknesses (cliched characters, monotonous themes), with the latter leaving a stronger impact. Despite near-unanimous agreement that the performances and direction are solid to great across the board, these plays are >.....


Posted on 08/27/13
Photo from Harbor
Photo: Carol Rosegg

B-

While some applaud Harbor as a “warm and funny” (Huffington Post’s Steven Suskin) play with “thrilling and dramatically charged results” (TheaterMania’s Zachary Stewart), more are critical of the play’s inconsistencies, including the significant change in tone between Acts 1 and 2. Speaking for several reviewers, the Bergen Record's Robert Feldberg calls the characters “all in all, not especially believable,” which may be why the ensemble receives mixed marks; an exception is Alexis Molnar, who garners considerable praise for her portrayal of the teenage Lottie.


Posted on 08/20/13
Photo from Soul Doctor
Photo: Carol Rosegg

C-

Critics find this "Journey of a Rock-Star Rabbi" to be an overstuffed, by-the-numbers biomusical that doesn't dig deep enough into the life of its fascinating subject. More than a few complain of whitewashing--where, for instance, are the charges of sexual harassment that Carlebach faced later in life?--and all bemoan the shticky book and direction by Daniel Wise (Benoit-Swan Pouffer's pseudo-Hair choreography doesn't win fans either). Where this strange musical goes right, critics say, is with Carlebach's own infectious, joyful music and in the compelling performances of Eric Anderson, as the Soul Doctor himself, and Amber Iman as Nina Simone.


Posted on 08/15/13
Photo from Love's Labour's Lost
Photo: Joan Marcus

B+

The latest frothy late summer offering from the Public Theatre garners predominantly positive reviews for director Alex Timbers and songwriter Michael Friedman (the team that brought us Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), who fashioned a new musical around Shakespeare's romantic comedy. For most, what criticism there is is directed at the original play itself, which is widely considered problematic. Yet this “musical mash-up” charms many as a “screwball farce celebrating the joys of being young and on the loose,” according to Lighting & Sound America’s David Barbour. The Hollywood Reporter’s Frank Scheck warns purists to beware, even as he considers this “delightfully antic show…a perfect midsummer night’s entertainment.” Even the less-than-captivated Ben Brantley of the Times has praise for the “incredibly inventive Mr. Timbers,” while he calls the production “a silly diversion for the silly season, [which] passes muster, but only just.”