The March Madness Edition of Theater TicketStub is finally here!
* Forbidden Broadway: SVU -- A revue for all the closet Broadway babies out there, you former theater geeks who can lipsync along with The Fantasticks and belt out "Tomorrow" or "I Enjoy Being A Girl" in the shower...ummm, not that I know what that's like. Two jam-packed acts, four solid troupers, and a nonstop cavalcade of parody makes the show move along at a good clip -- despite the fact that I was in the throes of nausea and feared I would have to claw my way to the aisle from dead center in the middle of the action, I was caught up in the hilarity from the start. From the washed-up, middle-aged Annie to the horny Avenue Q puppets, no Broadway sacred cow is safe, especially not Harvey Fierstein, ha ha. The more you care about theater in-jokes, the more you'll like it, but even the casual viewer can chortle at the overblown Phantom and his diminutive chandelier, or the acerbic Mamma Mia sendup: "Compared to the new shows/ABBA looks like Shakespeare," ouch! And the classic sketch on the marathon grubbiness of Les Miz was priceless. Run don't walk, as they say. (B+)
* The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? -- Kim and I joined the matinee herd, yuk yuk, to see what all the fuss was about Edward Albee's controversial (as in, could be genius, could be a waste of time) but Tony winning play. The fuss, dear readers, is over bestiality, and more specifically how it brings the comfy upscale marriage of one couple crashing down in ruins. How Albee-esque. Martin, a lovesick successful architect, is acting strangely and both his wife and best friend joke with him that he must be having an affair, ha ha ha. This cavalier treatment of infidelity (from the wife because she is rock-solidly secure in the marriage, from the friend because he's often strayed and can't believe Martin hasn't yet) quickly bites all three of them in the hindquarters, when Martin blurts out that yes, he is, with Sylvia, darling Sylvia, a goat he met upstate at a farm stand. No, really. And it's been going on for six months! The audience reaction to this revelation (which is of course not much of one, since we know the play's title and thus the "secret") morphs from naughty snickering to rueful chuckles to silent thrall at the unspooling mess onstage (literally, once the wife starts trashing the set). That's Albee's genius here: he makes us ashamed of the husband and of ourselves too, for our smug schadenfreude at his downfall. Steven Schnetzer, who played Martin (and, back in the day, Cass on Another World!) was spot on and somehow made the character truly pitiable, growing more pathetic as he starts to admit his "love affair" is really a disastrous compulsion. The other three actors were all second fiddles, but that seemed to fit the theme. And poor Sylvia herself makes only a brief, doomed cameo. Thought-provoking stuff...unfortunately the Lyric Stage theater was so overheated that several people walked out, and I thought my brain would melt. (A-)
* Brooklyn Boy -- SpeakEasy Stage is batting .1000 so far this year, with another compelling production, this time with the entire cast making their SpeakEasy debut. Donald Margulies, who wrote Dinner With Friends, delves into his autobiography here with the story of Eric Weiss, a Jewish boy, the "sensitive" type, from Brooklyn -- that is, the Brooklyn of yore, not today's hipster enclave -- who's finally become a flavor-of-the-week author, appearing on the Today Show, flying out to Hollywood, the whole bit. But his crusty old dad is dying of cancer, his wife's divorcing him, and everyone from the old neighborhood wants to know who will be playing them in the movie. "But it's a novel, a work of fiction!" he protests, not very convincingly. The play vividly bounces Eric's neuroses against the robust Brooklyn characters he's been carefully distancing himself from since he went off to Columbia years ago: his unapologetically dyspeptic father, a friend who's mired like a Springsteen lyric in the same old routines his own father laid down. Americans tend to use a euphemism, "background," for those elemental forces like religion, class, and ethnicity that are anything but as they shape our character and outlook on life. Here we see one "local boy made good" coming to terms with the fact that even after you move out and your parents pass on, you still live under their roof -- a revelation brilliantly executed onstage with a last-minute set change that takes us right into the shabby, shmutzy, ever-loving heart of Brooklyn. Wonderful performances by the dad (David Kristin) and old friend Ira (Ken Baltin) made it a wryly funny and poignant night. (A)