“Father” Brings The War Back Home

by Jason Fitzgerald | Mar 27, 2018 7:40 am | Comments (1)

Joan Marcus PhotosIn the opening scene of Suzan-Lori Parks’s Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3, a series of characters, all black slaves in Civil War Texas, hold out their palms and extend their thumbs horizontally, squinting at the horizon. Even though standing on dry land, they are navigators, measuring the imminence of the sunrise and their position relative to the north star. The gesture, which becomes a motif, holds a poignant double meaning in Parks’s three-act drama. In the scene, they are measuring the time before one of their number must decide whether to join the Confederate army as his master’s servant or disobey him and face the consequences.

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Sherlock Holmes Wigs Out

by Donald Brown | Mar 14, 2018 7:58 am

T. Charles Erickson PhotoForget March Madness. In Connecticut right now, March is Mystery Month. Up at Hartford Stage through March 25, Agatha Christie’s beloved sleuth Hercule Poirot is solving The Murder on the Orient Express, while over in Norwalk until March 18, The 39 Steps, a comedy-mystery based on an espionage thriller, is playing at Music Theatre of Connecticut.

And at Long Wharf Theatre, Baskerville, Ken Ludwig’s adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mystery The Hound of the Baskervilles, runs through March 25. There seems to be statewide agreement that we need fun to divert us from the weather while still getting us out to the theater. And it’s no secret that mystery has draw.

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August Wilson Mined For Comedy, Turns Up Gold

by Brian Slattery | Mar 12, 2018 7:50 am

Brian Slattery PhotoFifteen New Haven high-school students brought playwright August Wilson’s characters to life in an August Wilson Monologue Competition on Friday evening. Before they started, James Bundy, artistic director at the Yale Repertory Theatre, reminded the audience that a little bit of themselves might be in Wilson’s plays.

The self-taught playwright, Bundy said, spent a lot of time just listening to people talk. “The people who are in his plays are people he heard from sitting in coffee shops.” In town, that meant Atticus and especially Book Trader on Chapel Street. If you stop into Book Trader, Bundy said, “You’re sitting where he listened to New Haven.”

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Wilbur Cross Goes ... Back To High School?

by Brian Slattery | Mar 2, 2018 8:50 am

Brian Slattery PhotosTwo people go to their high school reunion. Could be 15 years, 20 years, since they saw each other last. They strike up a conversation. Start to hit it off. They share a dance. A connection is forming. But they never dated in high school. Didn’t have a crush on each other. As it turns out, they didn’t know each other well at all. Which is why, when they sing to each other, they don’t sing to each other about the good old days.

“I’m glad you didn’t know me in high school,” they sing.

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Long Wharf Mystery Lets The Crowd See The Strings

by Brian Slattery | Feb 23, 2018 9:16 am

A strong wind blew inside the rehearsal space at Long Wharf Theatre, making Dr. Watson and Sir Henry lean into it.

“And hat,” said director Brendon Fox. A member of the crew tossed a hat through the air in front of the characters, who were looking for and found a certain Dr. Mortimer, who might have some information they needed.

“We’re lookin’ for a woman with the initials ‘L.L.’!” Sir Henry shouted into the wind. “What?” Dr. Mortimer shouted back. “We’re looking for a woman!” Watson shouted. “So am I! I’m tired of being single!” Dr. Mortimer shouted.

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“Sunset Baby” Looks Back In Anger

by Brian Slattery | Feb 20, 2018 8:46 am

Brian Slattery PhotoDamon is a drug dealer and a robber, but a scholar too. He reads academic treatises in his spare time, it turns out. It’s enough to surprise former revolutionary Kenyatta Shakur. First they trade street talk. Then they trade ideas. Shakur has been out of the fight for decades. “We need soldiers like you out here now,” Damon says.

Then they start talking about Nina. Kenyatta’s estranged daughter. Damon’s girlfriend. Nina has letters that Kenyatta and her mother Ashanti wrote to each other while Kenyatta was in prison, letters that a lot of academics want to get their hands on now that Ashanti has passed. Letters that Kenyatta wants even more than they do. Problem is, he needs to somehow reconnect with Nina to get them, and there’s a lot of hurt in the past to get through first.

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Sondheim’s Passion Returns, Passionately

by Lary Bloom | Feb 7, 2018 8:50 am

Damn that Stephen Sondheim, always timely.

Last year, when Yale Rep plucked the composer’s Assassins from mothballs, audiences couldn’t help but feel a contemporary edge to the 1990 musical, considering the political hostility of the moment and that show features figures remembered in infamy. Indeed, during a talk by Sondheim at the theater shortly before opening, an audience member remarked that the timing of the musical’s re-staging seemed eerie.  It was a touchy moment, but Sondheim handled it well, taking a deep breath, before defusing the topic. 

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Yale Rep Stages “Field Guide” To 2018

by Jason Fitzgerald | Feb 5, 2018 1:22 pm

Joan Marcus PhotosIn the opening scene of Field Guide  —  at the Yale Repertory Theatre now until Feb. 17 —  a young woman delivers a series of awkward jokes in a standup routine that is more of a meta routine. Among the “jokes” is the announcement that she owns no property and is about to lose both her health insurance and her income stream.

In light of this revelation, her mock standup, and much of the performance that follows it, resembles an exercise in playful cynicism. Hannah speaks for a generation that has become adult in an America uninterested in protecting its former children, for whom an adaptive strategy is to hurl droll comedy into the void.

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