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  • AmericanTheaterWeb Original News & Reviews

  • Use the calendar above to find ATW News & Reviews for a specific day, or use the list to the right to go to a specific review or article. The site's updated 3-4 times a day generally. For you convenience, links below will take you to ATWTopNews (a quick listing of links to some of the day's top stories) and to ATWClips (the complete digest of the day's news from ATW).

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American Premiere of Water Bearer's Dream in TX July 10 - 20

Hip Pocket Theatre in Fort Worth, Texas will continue its 32nd season with the presentation of the American premiere of Lorca Simons' The Water Bearer's Dream, running July 10 - July 20.

Described as "a theatrically staged installation of movements exploring the relationship between water and goodbyes," the piece premiered at The Space in Stroud, England in February.

Conceived, written and created by Lorca Simons, the Hip Pocket production will also include Paul Logsdon. Guest director is New York-based Gabrielle Roth, best known for her 5-Rhythm practice of healing dance, internationally renowned theater/music director, philosopher, and movement innovator.

This multi-media production immerses the audience in an art installation featuring text and powerful imagery, with visual arts interwoven throughout. Lighting Design is by Nikki DeShea Smith.

The evening also includes beverages and catered sandwiches from the Park Hill Cafe. Live music is performed before and after the production, featuring area bands and musicians.

Performances are Thursday - Sunday at 9:00 pm. Tickets range from $5 - 15, and can be purchased online through www.TicketstotheCity.org, or by calling the Box Office - 817 246-9775. Further information is available online at www.hippocket.org.

Happy Fourth of July - A Patriotic Clip for the Day

James Cagney sings 'Yankee Doodle Dandy'

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A Couple's Dualities Revealed in Stitching

As Anthony Nielson's Stitching opens, Stu (Gian Murray Gianino) and Abby (Meital Dohan) seem to be a pretty normal thirtysomething couple coping with a very difficult situation: Abby's unwanted pregnancy, but within minutes, their conversation turns subtly hostile. One senses that this is a pair that is used to doing battle. By the time the play's second scene begins, and they've begun role-playing (college prostitute and her john), one knows that these two have a story that goes much deeper than one might ever have expected. Nielson has laid some fascinating groundwork very quickly in this brief (70 minute) one act play, a model of the popular British genre of "in-yer-face theatre," which attempts to shock audiences by extreme language, emotional frankness, and questioning of moral norms.

Nielson includes much of this during the scenes in which the two role-play, and these sequences seem all the more pungent when they're placed in between the often humorous scenes in which the couple continue with their conversations about whether or not Abby should have her baby. (Stu and Abby's attempts at a personality/compatibility quiz will amuse anyone who's ever been in a longish-term relationship.)

Strangely, though, throughout Stitching something doesn't seem to add up about these two. Nielson does eventually reveal the couple's complete (and tragic) tale, but the gnawing sense that something else is going on between Stu and Abby diminishes the impact of Nielson's shock techniques, particularly as the couple seems increasingly uncommitted to the violence and degradation they perpetrate on one another.

Initially we accept some of the pair's awkwardness, inferring that it's character-driven discomfort with the games they've undertaken. Ultimately, though, we realize that neither Dohan, who cuts a fine minx-like figure as Abby, nor Gianino, who works diligently to expose both Stu's macho and sensitive sides, are entirely at ease with the roller-coaster demands of Nielson's script. Both have moments when their performances crackle, but there are an equal number in which their work feels wooden and unduly forced.

Director Tim Haskell's almost leisurely, and at times foreboding (jarring string quartet music underscores costume changes between scenes), production only enhances what becomes growing disbelief in the events unfolding in the couple's meticulously appointed apartment (courtesy of designer Garin Marshall, who has also provided a gorgeously modulated lighting design). This tidy environment, like the play’s opening , belies the shocking flights found in Stitching, which sadly never cuts as deep as it might.

---- Andy Propst

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Stitching continues through July 19 at The Wild Project (195 East Third Street). Performances are Monday and Tuesday at 7pm; Wednesday through Friday at 8pm and Saturday at 2 and 8pm. Tickets are $45.00 and can be purchased by calling 212-352-3101 or by visiting www.OvationTix.com. Further information is available online at www.StitchingThePlay.com.

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Berkshire Fringe Runs July 16 - August 4 - Schedule Announced

The Berkshire Fringe Festival in Great Barrington has announced the roster of shows that will be part of the '08 Festival. Sounds like a pretty intriguing mixture of work. Here's what they've slated:

Miracle Tomato
Hundreds of tomatoes fall from the sky in this traveling story of love, bioengineering and the search for home. Performer/creator Jessica Cerullo recounts the rich and prolific history of the tomato in this sobering yet hysterical comedy that examines cultivation, mass consumption, and the changing dynamics of food and family.
Runs: July 14 - 20

US
US is a provocative and politically charged performance marrying text, song and virtuosic dance. Using rich theatricality and vigorous physicality, award-winning creator/performer Alexandra Beller (former member of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company) explores the relationship between a country and its citizens. The performance questions issues of morality, humanity, dissent and forgiveness.
Runs: July 17 - 21

The Chosen One
Seating itself coyly in the time-honored vampire/horror genre, The Chosen One is an allegory of romantic illnesses. Written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Theodore Collatos, this beautifully shot black and white film draws inspiration in equal parts from European art film and campy B-movies, portraying an aesthetic of absurdity that manages to encompass sincerity into its edgy sarcasm. Proudly produced in Great Barrington, the film features many local actors and familiar Berkshire locations.
Runs: July 18

The Obscure Equivocal Definite Meaning to Everything
In this debut work of dance/theater by emerging choreographer Alexandria Yalj, The Obscure Equivocal Definite Meaning to Everything explores the distance and connections between people. Six powerhouse dancers reveal the topography of two shifting doorways. As the doors open and close, different vantage points illuminate the patterns of behavior in which we are all confined.
Runs: July 23 - 26

The Only Friends We Have
Under The Table returns to The Berkshire Fringe with their quirky comedy, lightning speed banter and signature brand of outlandish shenanigans. Despite creative and sometimes violent efforts, dysfunctional friends Norma, Jonathon and Claudia are suffering from an unfortunate bed bug infestation! The three comrades are both united and torn apart by their elusive enemy. As dreams are revealed and tension builds, the trio discovers that while they might have made their bed, they just can’t seem to sleep in it...
Runs: July 25 - 28

Stellyy
Dedicated to challenging the nature of identity, the New York based Lynx Ensemble presents StellYY, the heartbreaking and optimistic story of Estella Rose Simone Rochester, the first child created from the genetic material of two men. When Stelly falls ill at the age of 12, she and her fathers become the focal point of a contentious culture war. A darkly comic and moving allegory, StellYY reveals not only the bonds that unite her own family but what ultimately unifies all parents when faced with the uncertainty of the world beyond home.
Runs: July 30 - August 3

The Last Hurrah or the Clementines
Straight from Northampton, MA emerges the aggressively inventive and fabulously experimental company, The Missoula Oblongata. Their latest low-tech/high-impact production unravels the mysteries behind prime numbers, outer space, displaced athletes and fortune cookies. With a dozen eggs, an original musical score by the Seattle band TV Coahran, and an aquarium full of white yarn, The Last Hurrah of the Clementines is an unpredictable evening of crafted madness, eerie melodies and homegrown delights.
Runs: July 31 - August 4

OTher performances in the Berkshire Fringe this year include special concerts and workshops. For complete information, visit: www.berkshirefringe.org

ATW Review - Horrors of Many Kinds To Be Found in Palace of the End

A trio of sad and weary individuals tell their stories and bear their souls in Judith Thompson's withering Palace of the End, currently playing at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre on 42nd Street.

This triptych of scalding monologues is inspired by three real-life figures: Lynndie England, the soldier who became the face of the atrocities committed at Abu Ghraib; David Kelly, the British weapons inspector who is believed to have committed suicide after revealing that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction; and Nehrjas Al Saffarh, the wife of the head of Iraq's Communist party. She was killed by American bombs during the first Gulf war.

Teri Lamm gives what may be the production's most daring performance in the piece's opening "My Pyramids." She plays Lynndie and allows the young woman's arrogance, anger, and small-mindedness to combine in a truly revolting portrait. As Lynndie pushes papers at a desk job in a sterile army environment (one of the three beautiful sculptural environments provided by scenic designer Mimi Lien), she googles herself, complains about the way in which she's been represented in the media, and attempts to establish credible reasons for her actions. Ultimately, though, as she describes the way in which she and friends harassed a childhood schoolmate, we see that Lynndie is simply a bully who's been put into an army uniform, and thus, feels as though she has been given the right to bully on a more visible global scale.

In the evening's second monologue, Rocco Sisto plays Kelly as he waits for his death in the woods, having fatally slashed himself. As Kelly describes the events that led to his involvement in sex-ing up documents proving that Iraq indeed had weapons of mass destruction, there is a painfully haunted tone and air to Sisto's performance. The reason becomes clear as he describes what transpired in Iraq to make him come forward, admitting to the duplicity of early government reports that swayed public opinion. It's a painful tale that Sisto delivers with both nuance and flair.

"Palace" concludes with "Instruments of Yearning," which is perhaps the most moving of the three monologues, with Heather Raffo (author and performer of the acclaimed 9 Parts of Desire) playing Saffarh, who describes the regime of terror that she and her family endured under Saddam Hussein's rule. Like the opening section of "Palace," Saffarh's tale includes graphic descriptions of torture, but unlike Lynndie's account, Saffarh's comes from the viewpoint of a woman who endured and watched her children endure the unspeakable. In Raffo's graceful performance, the accounts never become sensational nor sentimental, rather, and perhaps most important, they resound with a kind of warm-hearted numbness that chills.

These three performances have been guided by director Daniella Topol, who has orchestrated a fine physical production, including Justin Townsend's atmospheric lighting design and Leah Gelpe's subtle projection design – for this important, effective and affecting work.

---- Andy Propst

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Palace of the End plays at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Playwrights Horizons (416 West 42nd Street). Performances are Tuesday at 7pm; Wednesday at 3 and 7pm; Thursday at 7pm; Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 3 and 8pm; and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are $50.00 and can be purchased by calling 212-279-4200 or online at www.ticketcentral.com. Further information is available at www.epictheatreensemble.org.

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