The Merry Wives of Windsor at Stratford Shakespeare Festival

If you are seeing the revenge tragedy Titus Andronicus at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival you might want to bookend that experience with The Merry Wives of Windsor, Shakespeare’s great revenge comedy.

Being given a smashing production at the Festival Theatre under the taut direction of Frank Galati (who also adapted the Festival’s staggering production of Grapes of Wrath), Merry Wives is one of the jewels of the 2011 season.

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The Homecoming at Stratford Shakespeare Festival

Harold Pinter is a playwright of such profound idiosyncrasy that he has his very own adjective – Pinteresque. And if ever there was a Pinter play that deserves that soubriquet it’s The Homecoming, which is being given a top drawer, if somewhat flawed, revival by the Stratford Shakespeare Festival at their downtown Avon Theatre.

Teddy is returning to the drab working class London home of his youth. Since his unexplained departure he has acquired a PhD, an American academic career, and a wife. His father Max and brothers Lenny and Joey seem less than enthralled to see him back. Only his uncle Sam has a kind word for him. What follows from this sparse set up is a profoundly unsettling sequence of events bristling with casual cruelty and sexual degradation.

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Labadee, Haiti: Royal Caribbean’s Tropical Paradise

Royal Caribbean has created Labadee as a tropical paradise bearing its name.

On the north coast of Haiti lies a narrow spit of land that juts out to sea from the surrounding hills forming a nice little cove. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has carefully walled it off from the rest of the country to create a “secluded tropical paradise” for the enjoyment of passengers who otherwise would probably never visit

Since 1986 Labadee has been the largest contributor of tourist dollars to Haiti.

Haiti at all. They call it Labadee.

The original place name is Labadie, but RCCL changed it to Labadee and made the tweaked name a “Service Mark” of the cruise line and, some nondescript ruins aside, everything in it is as artificial as the new name. The closest visitors get to the real Haiti is the Artisan’s Village, where an engaging group of locals sell handicrafts and trinkets to the thousands of punters who pour off the moored cruise ship.
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‘La Bete’ on Broadway, a Review

la bete on broadway

Voters for the Tony Awards have a major problem on their hands. Can they give Mark Rylance the Best Actor award again, a mere three years after Boeing, Boeing? Certainly they will be unable to avoid nominating him for his astounding comic performance in David Hirson’s masterful La Bête.

La Bête (The Beast or The Fool), first produced on Broadway in 1991 to little acclaim although it went on to win an Olivier Award in London, is something of a tour de force.

Written in rhyming couplets in the manner of Moliere, set in Moliere’s France, and dealing with the sort of cultural hypocrisies that were Moliere’s bread and butter, Hirson’s play seems uncannily of the moment nearly twenty years on, with much to tell us about the current debased state of our entertainment culture. (Are you reading this Snooki?) Perhaps that is the definition of great dramatic art.
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In Lhasa, Everbody Goes To Dunya

dunya restaurant, lhasa tibet
The terrace at Dunya

The restaurant scene in Lhasa’s old town, such as it is, has taken a decided step upwards with the arrival of Dunya, a sprightly new eatery with an international menu and an international staff to match.

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Waterpark Pioneer Tells All, A Book Review

Wave Maker

If the guy on the cover of “The Wave Maker,” Tim O’Brien’s as-told-to biography of the creator of Wet ‘n Wild and SeaWorld, looks like he’s been through the wringer, it’s because he has.

The Wave Maker” is the story of a man who believed in himself, who never thought of giving up, even when faced with health set backs that would have sidelined most of us. He had in his arsenal a tremendous sense of creativity, a strong work ethic, and an unshakeable belief that his ambitious projects would reach a successful conclusion.

George Millay, for that is the name of the battered survivor on the book’s cover, is a visionary, an innovative, restive, and determined risk-taker who created two major theme park genres.

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“Wit” Off-Broadway, A Review

This production has closed.

Margaret Edson’s Pultizer prize-winning study of an ice-cold intellectual ravaged by advanced ovarian cancer has moved from its funky origins in Chelsea’s warehouse district to the trendy environs of the Village’s Union Square. And with a new cast it is better than ever.

Actually, I was one of the few dissenting voices on the original production. I felt that the central character’s empty personal life was never dealt with dramatically and left a hollow space where the play’s heart should have been. On top of that, the key roles were played too much on one note for my taste, emphasizing the intellectual rigor of the piece but sacrificing the human connection that would make us care for the people on stage.

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“Doubt” On Broadway, A Review

This production has closed.

No doubt about it, John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt is the best new play to hit Broadway in a good long while. In fact, it restored my faith in American drama.

Set in the Bronx of Shanley’s youth, it tells the story of the struggle between the crusty old nun who runs the parochial school with an iron hand and the charismatic young priest she believes has molested one of her young charges.

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“The Crucible” On Broadway, A Review

by Kelly Monaghan

This production has closed.

One sure hallmark of a classic is its ability to speak to succeeding generations. By that measure, Arthur Miller’s searing parable of intolerance, vengeance, and mass hysteria, “The Crucible,” is destined to resonate for centuries to come. Certainly, there are moments in the play that hit today’s Broadway audience with the force of a breaking news bulletin. And this is an age in which Miller’s sobering tale needs retelling.
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‘Amadeus’ On Broadway, A Review

This production has closed.

Peter Shaffer’s “Amadeus,” one of the longest running dramas to ever grace the Broadway stage, is back. But is it better than ever?

The play, as you may recall, is the story of the jealousy Antonio Salieri, the most renowned composer of his age, felt toward that young upstart Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose true genius only Salieri (in Shaffer’s vision) could appreciate. In the end, Salieri became so obsessed with Mozart’s superior artistry that on his death bed he babbled incoherently that he had murdered Mozart more than thirty years earlier. He was mad, of course. Or was he? This is the historical mystery that Shaffer presumes to unravel in his imaginative retelling of the tale. Along the way he engages in a fascinating meditation on the urge to excellence and fame that many of us feel and the mediocrity to which most people — present company excepted, of course — are condemned.

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