Posts tagged Berkeley Rep
Wake Up Grandma, Dionysus Is Passing Out The Wine!

I guess as experiences go watching actors play in water is far from the worst thing that could happen in a theater, though after watching Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses for the second time in twenty years it’s also far from the best. But since water is endlessly enticing and you’re going anyway, let me at least pose a question or two for you to ponder as you drift off to sleep.

If you just read the script of Metamorphoses, would you have said to yourself—“Water, everything must be played in water”—? I think you would have probably thought that it was appropriate for the second of the six or so tales here, but that none of the others is especially watery. It is true that tumbling over in grief is more dramatic in a pool than on the hard ground, or having a temper tantrum and splashing the first three rows of the audience is marginally funnier than doing it on a dry stage, but as a go-to move it takes on a wearying, limited appeal. Just ask the birds: when everyone flies, it’s not that big a thrill.

And since we’re on the subject of the script, it feels like it was written by the youth minister of a progressive church in Marin—full of easy, ironic lessons; scores of opportunities for the type of peppy acting natural to privileged teens; and best of all, constant narration, so that no one in the congregation gets lost: “Wake up, Grandma, Dionysus is passing out the wine.”

I don’t think you’re seeing art; I think you’re looking at water. And there’s a big difference.

‘Metamorphoses’ runs through March 24 at the Alfred Peet’s Theater in Berkeley. For tickets and information click here. For the Full Review click here.

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There's No Author in Paradise Square

In considering the case of the Berkeley Rep’s new musical Paradise Square under the direction of Moisés Kaufman, with a book by Marcus Gardley, choreography by Bill T. Jones, and music by Jason Howland and Larry Kirwan (also the lyricist), we might rightfully ask whose show this is. After all, Craig Lucas is also listed as writing the book along with Gardley and Kirwin, though Lucas seems absent from most of the show’s promotional material. And strangely enough there’s a “conceived by” credit for Kirwan. I wonder if this is an entirely new artistic field—”Mom, Dad, I’m majoring in artistic conception!”

Paradise Square is the unwitting product of the crisis of authorship in American theater. In many ways what the musical is about is beside the point, though its plot and aspirations are telling to say the least. In its seriousness, it obliterates any possibility of artistic ambition, wildness, freedom, and scope. Its goal is to parrot conventional sensibilities and give them a high culture sheen of political and social importance. There’s no author here, only a producer selling the idea of high-quality creativity.

‘Paradise Square’ runs through March 3rd at the Roda Theater in Berkeley. For tickets and information click here. For Full Review click here.

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'A Doll's House Part 2' is too much like Tom Stoppard

Lucas Hnath turns Ibsen’s Nora into an anti-marriage feminist, whereas what disillusions Nora is Torvald’s lack of commitment to the most basic tenant of any marriage—the vow to be there for the worst. This gives Ibsen’s A Doll’s House a nasty kick. With only a vague notion of feminist zeal—as if Hnath hired a steering committee to make sure he was up to date on the latest trends—his drama never gains any traction, a pale imitation of the still more shocking original.

‘A Doll’s House Part 2’ runs through October 21 at the Roda Theater in Berkeley. For tickets and information click here. For the full review click here.

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