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In New York City it can seem like the audience is an accessory to theater. Plays with big name stars charge a king’s ransom to sit in the back row of a giant theater, and you had better bring your binoculars if you want to see that movie actor strut and fret his hour upon the stage. Every restaurant in Manhattan has a cast of waiter/actors ready to slip you a postcard with info on how to see a burlesque or magic show, a comedy club, an art installation, a theater festival, or a musical act in any genre that tickles your fancy. Usually when you get there the art is so high concept you want to scrub your brain with Kardashian reruns just to get back to normal. Did they create that work of “art” for you, or did you just pay $15 to bear witness to their artistic genius?
Welcome guest reviewer Tom Jacobs!
We don’t really have a word for the ancient Greek arête — best translated as “virtue” — and it’s a damn shame. The humble, ceaseless, and impossible but necessary pursuit to achieve something like earthly perfection or at least self-improvement. This seems like a pre-modern term, but of course it isn’t. A movie like Broke* provides a case study for thinking about it. This is a story about the kind of virtue and grace necessary to avoid succumbing to the time-clocked, bottom-line, cut-to-the-quick efficiency that seems to be darkening the land at the moment.
What is it with playwrights and puns? Elaborate, mind-bendingly cute puns — they just love ‘em. In Bekah Brunstetter’s new play Miss Lily Gets Boned the biggest, most playwritingest pun is eleven feet tall and requires three adult men to operate. That’s how big it is. And you know the secret of big puns? If they get big enough they turn into metaphors.
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven
— Paradise Lost Book I, 254-255
In Seth Panitch’s hilarious new play Hell: Paradise Found, a satirical send-up of conventional religion and morality, Simon Ackerman (Thomas Adkins) walks into an office to find himself in an interview with the devil (played by the playwright Seth Panitch). Simon is confused and a little indignant. After all, he never broke the rules at any time during the span of his completely predictable life. He got a respectable job, a wife, a 401(K). He should spend his golden rest-of-eternity years on the golf links in the sky, playing everlastingly on soft greens at three under par.
Do androids dream of electric sheep? Or to put the question the other way, are humans just extremely complex machines? If we are machines, is the ability to manipulate others (i.e. politics) a purely technological problem? More importantly, is there something outside technology? Theater Reverb’s new show initium / finis poses these questions through a pastiche of classic sci-fi noir movies and cabaret style performance framed by a mash-up of Hindu and Christian myth. But rather than plumbing the depths of the mystery to find its bottom, they multiply it, refracting it through stagecraft, creating an atmosphere mixed with the angst of modernity or/and the awe of religion.
Three guys, three drinks, three acts: Virilia, Virility, Visectomy; beer, schnapps, whiskey; Brian, Stu, and Quinn. Three dudes, buds, bros from the old skool, do what bros do best — torture each other in a never ending test of masculinity and boner bona fides.
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