When I Was A Girl I Used To Scream and Shout now at Fallen Angels Theater

Entertainment » Theatre
When I Was A Girl I Used To Scream and Shout
by Wickham Boyle
Wednesday Apr 20, 2016

Fallen Angel Theater Company was founded in 2003 by actor Aedin Moloney, who shines as the mother Morag in the off- Broadway premier of Sharman MacDonald’s play with the intriguing title of “When I was a Girl I Used to Scream and Shout.”

Fallen Angel Theatre is, according to their mission statement, “the first American company committed to presenting outstanding and dynamic new Irish, American and British plays written by and about women, with the goal of interpreting these plays in a fresh, exciting and commercially viable way for New York audiences.” This company is lauded in the program by Mayor De Blasio and seated behind this reviewer was Mayor Emeritus David Dinkins; quite a political firmament for a tiny theater.

This is a realistic play set on the rocky coast of Scotland in 1983 and it encapsulates so many of the roiling conversations shouted, murmured or even truncated that happen between mother and daughter, and daughter and best friend. The triangle is composed of Mother, played expertly by Moloney, and her daughter Fiona brought to life as an adult, wee child, teen and young woman by the very accomplished Barrie Kreinik. Zoe Watkins brings great zest and humor to the childhood best friend, Vari, now married with three bairns of her own.

The director John Keating and set designer Luke Cantarella have contrived this work so that the shoals of the beach are always visible and this may be the metaphor for this play that is at once beguiling, funny and bitingly acerbic. The beach can be calm, sunny, or the waves can throw any of these women onto the rocks and away from safety, however that is defined.

The vibrant, mutable nature of the relationships in the script are echoed in musical direction and compositions by renowned musician and composer Paddy Moloney, leader of The Chieftains. This is Mr. Moloney’s first collaboration with his daughter Aedin and Fallen Angel Theatre Company.

We see from a series of well crafted, beautifully written scenes that bounce back through time as Morag gets a divorce and she and her daughter toss barbs and treacle back and forth as if it were a badminton match. They cuddle, they fight and they can cut each other to the bone because they have every knife sharpened with history.

They have heard the cries and the sadness and seen the hopes and dreams. This is the life of mothers and daughters. And there is always a “bestie” in the wings waiting with her story and her reflections about what she has observed and learned. In this case Vari is the one Fiona runs to in order to inquire about sex, or when you have a first slimy kiss yet long for a real sweet one.

Author MacDonald is at the top of her game writing women’s truth. The scenes where the girls describe first sex, the weirdness of “his hard thing,” the thrill of a kiss on the ear, the desire for power and even in Fiona’s case the manipulation of getting a country boy, played without guile by Colby Howell, to impregnate you. In this work Fiona gets pregnant as a 15-year-old just to unseat her mother’s second marriage.

As the work opens mother and daughter have gone to a Scottish seaside resort in the town where all the upheaval occurred. Perhaps they are there to finally talk about what transpired half a lifetime ago, or to talk truth about the deep guilt instilled by religion, or perhaps it is a way to start over and forgive. What ensues is a play in two acts that is languid, never rushed and resonates with the powerful ever-vacillating feelings between a mother, and daughter and between friends.

This is a well-polished looking glass held up to complicated women’s lives and it is done with panache, laughter and terrible sadness. The work deserves to be seen and applauded for its honesty and verve and for letting us remember how marvelous and fearful are the many roles women inhabit.

“When I was a Girl I Used to Scream and Shout” runs through May 8 at the Clurman Theatre at Theater Row, 410 West 42 Street. For tickets or information, call 212-239-6200 or visit www.theatrerow.org

Lazarus Rises up Splendidly at NY Theater Workshop By WIckham Boyle

viewimage_story.phpFrom THE EDGE
Tuesday Dec 22, 2015
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Just as the year grinds to a halt and the weather reminds us that major flux abounds in the heavens, we are graced with the New York Theater Workshop’s mind-blowing production of “Lazarus.”

In recent years NYTW has given us panoply of theatrical marvels and now fans of two of the most lauded guardians of the wonderfully perverse and bizarre, David Bowie and Ivo van Hove have united to create a production that defies description and yet rivets audiences.

We are told that Bowie contemplated writing a theater piece for ages and once introduced to Irish wordsmith Enda Walsh, he felt emboldened to co-pen “Lazarus.” This musical evening is replete with wraparound videos by Tal Yarden, undulating dances by Annie-B Parsons and special effects was inspired by Bowie’s 1976 film “The Man Who Fell to Earth.”

This work took its inspiration from a 1963 novel by Walter Tevis by the same name, and featured an alien trapped on earth longing to return to his water-starved planet. The alien is referred to as Newton, perhaps as an homage to the first postulator of the theory of gravity, Sir Isaac.

This alien is Thomas Newton, played with a loose-limbed drunkenness and an “abandon all hope ye who enter here” quality by the wildly talented Michael C Hall. Yes, of “Dexter” fame, but also recently Hall wowed audiences as Hedwig on Broadway. He has now reinvented himself as a man clad in boring beige belting, and crooning with Bowie beauty. Hall fills the theater with a longing and a loss that is as palpable as the scratch and blare of the enormous TV, which on occasion leaps into action spewing images or actual actors onto the proscenium.

The plot is minimal. Newton, the alien, is trapped on earth and stuck in an empty yet opulent apartment with a fridge full of gin and Lucky Charms and a quest for Twinkies. He is stymied by his inability to return to his ET home and the loss of his beloved wife Marylou and their children. He is a wastrel described by his assistant — played with verve, legs for days and a voice to match by Cristin Milioti — as “sorta sad, sorta unknowable in the way that you imagine rich, reclusive, eccentric men to be.”

As the play unfolds many new Bowie songs are sung by the full-throated cast and occasional favorites like “Changes,” “Absolute Beginners” and “The Man Who Sold the World” tickle the memories of Bowie fans, faithful for four decades.

Time is not linear, neither in Bowie’s music, nor in “Lazarus.” Over the course of the play’s two hours, we encounter what may be a few days, or a snippet of a dream that lasted seconds. A chorus of Geisha girls sing and dance, clubgoers gyrate and we meet another lost soul, the “young girl” who is a winsome waif played by Sophia Anne Caruso. Caruso brings hapless positive vibes to a group beset by tragedy, ennui and sodden sadness. She sings with angel pipes and she genuinely loves Newton for his longing and his potential goodness.

Into this black and white world is tossed the marvelous Michael Esper, recently in Sting’s “The last Ship.” Esper plays Valentine, clad in all black to Newton’s beige and the young girl’s pure white. He is evil and enjoys ogling lovers, played by the beautiful, sexy duo of Nicholas Christopher and Lynn Craig, in a club. He palpably lurks to steal their passionate energies and eventually kills the man.

Here I have to digress to extoll the environment of this piece as an integral part of the show. There is nothing superfluous about any image projected, any slashed ray of light, or the open set with its many levels. A sonorous band is housed upstage behind a glass wall, which also allows the cast to wander, to be sucked into space or to yearn for life on, literally, another level or Mars.

The director, Ivo van Hove, who has achieved a vaunted fame, all deserved, has a team of designers with whom he works. This includes his life partner, Jan Versweyveld set and lighting design, Tal Yarden video and An D’Huys, costumes; all of these elements were conceived and executed with stellar perfection. I actually consider the set and light to be additional characters with lives that both enhance the work and have a trajectory all their own.

As we search for meaning as the year slouches to its inevitable end, I think that like in all fairy tales, parables or gospels, we are searching for clues pointing us to where we belong. Where is our true north, our home, our safety and our place to marvel? We are all aliens lurching toward that Eden and the team at NYTW allows us to gasp at another vision of that quest.

“Lazarus” runs through Jan. 20, 2016 at the New York Theatre Workshop, 79 E. Fourth St. in the East Village. For tickets or information, call 212-780-9037 or visit nytw.org

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Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom

*published on 23 Nov 2015 in The EDGE

Eric Folks and Madeline Mahoney play father and daughter in 'Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom'

Eric Folks and Madeline Mahoney play father and daughter in ‘Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom’  

Let me say from the get-go that I am not a fan of video games, but I am a huge fan of the Flea theater in TriBeCa and especially their program to encourage and utilize a young, resident acting troupe called The Bats. With that prejudice out of the way, I attended “Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom” with trepidation and left feeling that once again this wonderful theater has a presence and a mission that never fails to, at the very least, shake its audience.

The action takes place on a raked stage evocatively painted to represent gardens and streets, well wrought by designer Simon Harding. This represents a quiet neighborhood ruled with an iron hand by a Neighborhood Association. Here, every aspect of life from lawn height to the position of garden gnomes is tightly regulated.

And yet behind closed doors, the adolescents of Neighborhood 3 are addicted to a video game, which recreates their own geography and personal iconography exactly. The GPS map allows teenagers to battle zombies in their own neighborhood, even in their own houses. Parents try with decreasing success to coax kids from their rooms with cars, hamburgers, interventions and affection; all to no avail.

The play, written with an acid tongue for dialog and great wit by Jennifer Haley, premiered at the Humana Festival in Louisville; this is the New York City debut. It is directed with great aplomb by Joel Schumacher, whose wonderful work we know as a writer on “Car Wash,” “St Elmo’s Fire,” “Flatliners” and a few installments of the “Batman.” As well, he directed a number of episodes of the mega-hit “House of Cards.”

A narrator instructs the players on what to do to achieve maximum success in the level sets each scene. It is exactly like watching the gamers set their sites on getting a grenade, or a money clip or in this case garden shears, or a sugar fix. The teenagers all refer to their parents by their first names and seem unable to recognize the danger in being so detached from the linear world.

There are about eight different scenes or levels each artfully populated by a cast of 16, all excellent. The Flea has a policy of a one-sheet program that only lists the participants so I can’t delineate who played what character. They represent parents and children all involved in an elaborate game both in real life or AWK (away from keyboard) and on screen.

The issues raised by the play seemed terrifying to me as the mother to grown children attempting to tether them back to real life and away from screens of all sizes and ilks. However the very young audience thought that there were moments of grand hilarity.

I know from reading Bruno Bettelheim’s seminal work on childhood and the power of fairy tales, “The Uses of Enchantment,” that it is paramount for little kids to be able to envision killing their mothers or isolating their siblings thus Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella and on and on. Perhaps video games provide the same kind of relief from an unempowered life for whomever plays them.

In “Neighborhood 3,” the Shakespearean contrivance of a play within a play finally unites as the kids reach the final terrifying level and one kid seamlessly segues from ignoring and excoriating his mother to actually murdering her with the hammer that was his final level weapon. We see the massacre in an off-stage shadow and when he returns to his game station he finally breaks down weeping. Curtain.

Again perhaps it is the confluence of slaughters in Paris and Mali, across the Middle East, and in movie theaters and elementary school across America, but playing at this level of violence is not entertaining or diverting to me, but rather a terrifying example of a world gone mad.

I applaud the Flea and the panoply of actors and creative stuff that brought this play to fruition, as many in the audience seemed tickled pink.

“Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom” runs through Dec. 20 at The Flea, 41 White Street in New York. For tickets or information, call 212-226-0051 or visit www.theflea.com

The Illusionists — Live on Broadway

*published on 23 Nov 2015 in The EDGE

We all want the holidays to be magical, even if we sometimes balk at the commercialism sewn into every early advertisement and the blaring carols. But there is something to be said for celebrating the darkest time of the year, which was the original druid impetus for a yuletide, equinox celebration and of bringing trees and lights inside. So this year I kicked off the holidays with magic.

I carted my goddaughters, 9 and 7, to the “The Illusionists — Live on Broadway” for a Sunday matinee and we had a rollicking blast. From the moment you enter, the stage is filled with a video of smoke emanating from somewhere marvel filled.

The show has a modern electronic, yet vaudevillian inspiration. There are six magicians, illusionists, ventriloquists, daredevils, conjurers and a futurist. They are all introduced and artfully segued by the MC, Jeff Hobson, who bills himself as the Trickster.

The Trickster tells jokes that make the adults laugh and the kids just see him as silly and over the top with his sequins and platinum hair. And his occasional card tricks keep us occupied while the massive stage at the Neil Simon Theater is constantly transformed. After all fire, cross bows, straitjackets, and dancing girls all must move on and off in order for the next level of wonder to be revealed.

The show runs over two hours and it rarely seems to lag as the acts are interspersed so smoothly by director and creative producer Neil Dorwood. The work of these seven artists, because this really is an artistic pursuit when shown so beautifully, is inspiring. We all gasp and endlessly imagine how did they do every trick.

There is a very scary act by Daredevil, Jonathan Goodwin who is a creative, skilled, and crazy stunt performer. He is an accomplished knife thrower, archer, escape artist, fakir, martial artist, free diver and free climber. Goodwin is not a magician, but he left us breathless. So much so that when he lit himself on fire while inverted and trapped in a straitjacket, I turned to the older girl and said “I cant look.” She responded that she was sure he had done this before. Ahhh, jaded youth.

The show then moves to a serene, elegant series of balletic card tricks performed by Korean born, Yu Ho-Jin, who calls himself The Manipulator. He is touted as a rising superstar in the world of magic and was named the 2014 “Magician of the Year,” by Academy of Magical Arts and was the first Asian to win the Grand Prix at the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques, also known as the “Olympics of Magic.” His work is calming, soothing and yet still awe-inspiring.

A final favorite, and very Halloween, is the The Anti-Conjuror, Dan Sperry. He is Marilyn Manson meets David Copperfield, and perhaps could be described as a practitioner of black magic. His first act was to swallow razor blades and then swallow string and finally tug them all out of this gullet tied together. Gross was the response from my row.

Later in the show, he borrows a quarter from an audience member, and then inserts it into his eye. He then slits his forearm open, very bloodily and extracts the coin from his arm. In fact I don’t even want to know how he does it, and we all agreed, we wouldn’t want that coin back.

Another favorite was The Futurist, Adam Trent, who works with video and lasers and creates a beautiful synthesis of technological illusions, dance and comedy all interlaced with classic techniques.

The time seemed to zoom by, dare I say magically.

“The Illusionists: Live on Broadway” runs through Jan. 3, 2016, at the Neil Simon Theater, 250 52 Street. For information or tickets, visit www.theillusionistslive.com/tickets/broadway

Thérèse Raquin: theatre review

*published on 30 Oct 2015 in The EDGE

Matt Ryan and Kiera Knightley

Matt Ryan and Kiera Knightley  

“Thérèse Raquin” began life in 1897 as a novel by Emile Zola and has seen various reincarnations over the years. In 1980 the BBC serialized the book with the wonderful Kate Nelligan in the eponymous role. In 2001, Harry Connick, Jr. took a stab at envisioning the work as a musical entitled, “Thou Shalt Not” and now the Roundabout Theatre Company is mounting this gripping tale in its Studio 54 space, starring Keira Knightley in her Broadway debut.

We meet Thérèse Raquin in this reinterpretation by Helen Edmunson, in the starkly beautiful set by Beowulf Boritt, and she seems to be literally hollowed out she seems so fragile, thin and timid. We learn that Therese’s father, a sea captain, left her when she was two in the care of his sister, Madame Raquin, after the death of her Algerian mother.

Madame Raquin is firmly evinced by one of our great actors, two-time Tony winner Judith Light, currently in the Golden Globe winning series, “Transparent.” Thérèse grew up with her cousin Camille who in manhood is a simpering valetudinarian, ever chasing a constant illness. Needless to say that with a mother who dotes on his every simper, Camille has become an unbearable selfish prig.

Of course Thérèse is wedded to him. She seems emptier with every scene in the dark, unhappy home. Camille, played with unctuous perfection by Gabriel Ebert, decides the troika must move to Paris. Here the family hosts a gaggle of petty bourgeois guests who come promptly at 9 p.m. to play games and drink, making sure the table is moved by millimeters, a metaphor for the strict, unwavering nature of this class. David Patrick Kelly, Jeff Still and Mary Wiseman provide ample color and distraction as the guests who visit weekly to gossip and support the main characters. And they will need it.

Thérèse and Madame Raquin open a small shop, and Camille finally lands a job at the Railway Company. Here he meets a childhood friend, the very sexy, seething Laurent played with a wild abandon by Matt Ryan. In the initial scene when Laurent enters the Raquin home, Thérèse is still a timid mouse, small voiced and bloodless. But as Laurent speaks, she arcs her body toward him as if magnetized by his manly force, until one is sure she will tip out of her strait-backed chair in order to be ever closer to him. It is a genius maneuver and whether it was the direction by Evan Cabnet, which is marvelous, or the inspiration of Knightley, it is a silent action that speaks volumes.

They begin an intense affair and Thérèse is transformed in Laurent’s arms, and here we witness Knightley’s subtle acting chops come to the fore. When Laurent thrusts her upon the wall of her own bedroom, she moans, “There is finally blood in my veins!” We believe her; she is transformed.

Since this is a romance, tinged with mystery and at least a little ghoulish, horrifying and haunting, I am loath to give away the full story for those who did not have to read the it in French Lit 101. It is a show that moves with considerable pace as characters are compelled and cursed in equal measure. Again I commend the lighting by Keith Parham and a setting so compelling that in a boating scene I imagine those in the front row may be leaving the theater wet.

This is heavy, heady stuff and it was only marred for me by a jarring tittering from the audience who perhaps was seeking so jokes to relieve a melodramatic evening part “Tell Tale Heart,” part “Romeo and Juliet” and all from two centuries ago when people endured their stations in life and waited with baited breath for interstitial moments of fulfillment and might well do anything to enhance their staid lives.

“Thérèse Raquin” runs through Jan. 3, 2016 at The Roundabout Theatre Company, 254 West 54th St. in New York. For information or tickets, call 212-719-1300 or visit http://www.roundabouttheatre.org/tickets/reserve.aspx?pid=20243

Playwright Joshua Harmon Explores the Millennial Landscape with ‘Significant Other’

*Published on 28 July 2015 on THE EDGE

Joshua Harmon

Joshua Harmon  


Playwright Joshua Harmon has an unwavering ear for dialog and an unflinching ability to regard his generation from a catbird seat that provides us glimpses into the world of Millennials both gay and straight.

Harmon is ubiquitously quoted as saying that seeing “Medea” at age ten with Diana Rigg was a pivotal point in his calling to be a playwright. However, he also had turns in “Peter Pan,” and “thinks” he perhaps played the Wicked Witch of the West in nursery school. All pitch perfect experiences to prepare him to express his diverse visions of modern life for eager theatergoers.

His first widely produced play “Bad Jews” was a success that leaped the pond from off-Broadway to London and garnered accolades everywhere it landed. Harmon seems to have a knack to creating work that is often described as “savagely funny,” (which is what Harmon calls an ability to be both “deep and silly.”) His newest work “Significant Other” plows those same tropes by unearthing humor and pathos in equal measure.

And like his previous effort, it has received excellent notices. “The play, which opened on Thursday at the Laura Pels Theater in a Roundabout Theater Company production directed with nimble grace by Trip Cullman, is as richly funny as it is ultimately heart-stirring,” wrote Charles Isherwood in reviewing the play in the New York Times last month. (It continues through August 18.)


Lindsay Mendez and Gideon Glick in “Significant Other”  (Source:Joan Marcus)

Insecurity drives comedy

In an interview at a Chelsea coffee shop Harmon says that often his comedy comes “a lot from insecurity. Comedy is instant gratification. If the audience is laughing, you know they are with you and it keeps them both open and listening when you want to a deeper moment.

“Comedy protects the writer when you’re going deeper, and it also serves a scientific function in the play. Joni Mitchell said, ‘laughing and crying, you know it’s the same release,’ and she’s right. A laugh before an intense moment can open an audience up”

Harmon says that when he finished “Significant Other” he thought it the saddest play he had ever written. Then, taking of those brave comedy pauses, adds, “until the first reading. But the comedy often takes care of itself.” That may be true if you have been an esteemed member of Juilliard’s graduate playwriting program for three years. The normal length of time given to graduate fellows is two years, but Harmon was invited back again and again to work with Marsha Norman and comedy wunderkind Christopher Durang.

“The osmosis of being allowed to absorb navigating 40 year careers in the theater and being taught how to build bridges and understand, as Norman says, that playwriting is not a ‘renewable resource’ created a kind of wonderful urgency in me,” he reflected on working with those Tony-winning playwrights.


Barbara Barrie and Gideon Glick in “Significant Other”  (Source:Joan Marcus)


Many want to draw parallels with Harmon and Jordan Berman, the lead character of “Significant Others.” Berman is a 29-year old gay man afloat in a sea of gal pals who one by one get married. Now 32, Harmon wrote the play right before “Bad Jews” went into rehearsals at the Roundabout Underground in 2012. Though Harmon is circumspect about the details of his personal life, he does demur that the play is not autobiographical, but rather it seeks to pose some deep questions he and his cohorts grapple with often.

“The seed of the work is true for me, but as I write it becomes something else. In this play at the nexus is the story about a wedding. With most weddings you are looking at the bride, but here I wanted to say that the Gay best friend is also worthy of examination. Jordan is a member of a group that is often underrepresented, at the margins. That places an extra burden on him, but he’s not meant to represent an entire population. He’s one individual character.”

Harmon admits that he didn’t come out until after college and “it was a tough time, as it felt strange trying to understand how I fit into the world. The notion that your biology is not wired in the dominant direction.” Perhaps it is his searching nature that gives Harmon such enlightened access to both the worlds of all those around him. Harmon is at work on two commissions, so he is happily busy. Certainly the trajectory of this young writer will be eagerly watched.

“Significant Other” continues through August 16 at the Laura Pels Theater, Manhattan. For more information, visit the Roundabout Theatre website.


The Dreamer Examines His Pillow

*published on 12 Aug 2015 on The EDGE

Summer theater abounds in NYC; it is a time to wander the edges and find places, companies and plays that might elude us during the year. One such offering shining brightly in TriBeCa is The Attic Theater Company’s production of “the dreamer examines his pillow,” mounted at The Flea Theater and artfully directed by Attic’s artistic director Laura Braza.

The play was written nearly 30 years ago by consummate New Yorker John Patrick Shanley. Shanley surmounted a thug-tough

Summer theater abounds in NYC; it is a time to wander the edges and find places, companies and plays that might elude us during the year. One such offering shining brightly in TriBeCa is The Attic Theater Company’s production of “the dreamer examines his pillow,” mounted at The Flea Theater and artfully directed by Attic’s artistic director Laura Braza.

The play was written nearly 30 years ago by consummate New Yorker John Patrick Shanley. Shanley surmounted a thug-tough childhood and draws upon it liberally in all his writing. He garnered accolades in film, TV, and theater winning every prize imaginable. Many know him for “Moon-Struck” and “Doubt” on Broadway and film.

“dreamer” is described as a “comedy of anguish” and The Flea is the perfect intimate space for the play’s dreamlike exploration of tragedy and exuberant connective tissue between two lovers.

Donna and Tommy grope their way through lust, love and art. Donna, played with gusto by Lauren Nicole Cipoletti, has an on again, off again relationship with Tommy, the wonderful Shane Patrick Kearns, who will be seen opposite Jacqueline Bisset in the upcoming feature film “Peter & John.”

In three scenes wrought in ramshackle rooms well-designed by Julia Noulin-Merat, we follow the couple as they fight about the meaning of life and fidelity. Tommy is also having an affair with Donna’s 16-year-old sister. These endless conversations lead Donna to return to confront her Irish father, embodied by Dennis Parlato who galvanizes the stage as a drunk in a regal-red robe.

Donna refers to him as a piece of red lint and accosts him until he finally agrees to answer her questions about her own life. This charged conversation leads her to insist that he talk to Tommy “to get him to marry me, or beat him up.”

The play alternates between the surreal; it opens with a Tommy praying to his small refrigerator, and poetic; a monologue delivered by Donna extolling the transformative nature of amazing sex is glorious. As ever, Shanley can write; his dialogue is pitch-perfect and his musings can transport audiences. Occasionally the mix of rat-a-tat-tat dialogue and long monologues can seem off-kilter, but Shanley quickly ropes us back in to the yin and yang dissection of love.

“the dreamer examines his pillow” runs through August 25 at The Flea Theater, 41 White Street in Tribeca. For information or tickets, www.theattictheaterco.com.