More Than Standup Leaden Lear, Golden Moments

New Theatre’s Bard double bill shows the best is yet to come

Audiences may, however, notice that this young company has noticeably improved its craft since last season, progress that only comes with experience. Shakespeare calls for actors with tremendous vocal, physical, textual, and emotional skills. Each member of the New crew clearly offers some of these, but few offer all. While several performances in these shows take off, it takes an entire cast to get these plays airborne. That’s where the idea of process comes in. For the actor, every Shakespearean role enhances the next one. By playing their Shakespeare in rep, de Acha and the New aren’t thinking short-term — they are grooming an ongoing acting company over a period of years. That’s why this year’s Shakespeare ProjectÚhas more texture than last season and why a number of New actors have clearly undergone remarkable artistic growth. The New Theatre’s commitment to repertory helps raise the bar for the entire South Florida community.

More Than Standup
Moms Mabley wasn’t just a string of jokes

In her biography in the playbill for Jackie “Moms” Mabley, Live!, the cantankerous, randy Moms is described as a “star of Black Vaudeville and nightclubs for almost half a century.” The article goes on to list the talent she worked with and discovered. Being a fan of the arts but unfamiliar with Moms, one can’t help but be intrigued by her career and want to learn more about her life.

It's Midsummer in India at the New Theatre
It's Midsummer in India at the New Theatre

Details

The Shakespeare Project: King Lear & A Midsummer Nightís Dream

By William Shakespeare, Directed by Rafael de Acha.

Presented through August 22 by the New Theatre, 4120 Laguna St, Coral Gables; 305-443-5909.

Jackie "Moms" Mabley, Live!

Written by T.G. Cooper, directed by Jerry Maple, Jr. With Latrice Bruno, Yvone Christiana, Curtis Allen, and Ben Collier. Through July 11 at the M Ensemble Actors Studio, 12320 W Dixie Hwy, North Miami; 305-895-8955.

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Unfortunately the play is merely a revue of her routines. We learn very little about the person except for whatever moderate, unknown truths manifest in her jokes that take the form of anecdotes. It’s an odd thing to have a character be more interesting than the content, but that is the case here.

Structurally this would be workable if the jokes were funny. While there are some laughs as she sings and interacts with the audience in the small black-box theater, much of the humor consists of her obsession with young men and how spry she remains at her age. This leads to a number of double-entendres and a lot of sexual innuendo, a type of joke that can become old very quickly.

It’s hard for even the best comedians to come up with fifteen minutes of solid material, let alone an hour and a half. Writer T.G. Cooper has clearly studied Moms’ work and tried to condense it into an entertaining play. If he had put as much effort into studying and remembering the person and her legacy as he did her comedy, he’d have something special. As is, this is a tired, redundant comedy routine that underwhelms.

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