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  • Article

    High Jinks at Sea

    Early in Tom Stoppard's comedy Rough Crossing, a character refers to the Irish policeman named Murphy who makes an entrance at the beginning of The Merchant of Venice. Don't remember Murphy? You're not alone. Never heard of Rough Crossing? You're als...

    by Robin Dougherty on May 13, 1999
  • Article

    A Fairy Good Tale

    When I asked the four-year-old next to me to explain the appeal of Snow White, she replied, "Seven beds. Seven bowls. Seven everything." This little theatergoer has probably never heard of Bruno Bettelheim, who deconstructed the fairy tales of the Br...

    by Robin Dougherty on May 6, 1999
  • Article

    God Help the Queen

    If Sid Caesar had ever performed a sketch about Henry VIII, it might have resembled the hilarious second act of The King's Mare, Oscar E. Moore's bio-comedy about the Tudor monarch and his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. The entire play is now enjoying ...

    by Robin Dougherty on April 29, 1999
  • Article

    Death Be Not Subtle

    Ariel Dorfman's political potboiler opens like the creaky thrillers from which it's descended -- on the proverbial dark and stormy night. Paulina is alone, waiting for her husband to arrive at their desolate beach house. It's raining. There's no phon...

    by Robin Dougherty on April 22, 1999
  • Article

    A Moon Not Forgotten

    "It sure was a beautiful night," says Jamie Tyrone, one of the two survivors in American theater's most famous morning-after scene. "I'll never forget it," this drunk says to Josie Hogan, the woman who has given him the only respite from misery he's ...

    by Robin Dougherty on April 15, 1999
  • Article

    Horse Whipped

    William Mastrosimone's Tamer of Horses takes place in a universe in which a kid named Hector wanders into the lives of two frustrated classics professors. You might surmise a coincidence like this is at hand from the title, a reference to Hector, the...

    by Robin Dougherty on April 8, 1999
  • Article

    Misuse of Ivory Power

    David Mamet's war-between-the-sexes conundrum is nothing if not a tense night out at the theater. That's true if you're male, female, a college student, a professor, or merely an innocent bystander trying to figure out whether there actually is a wat...

    by Robin Dougherty on April 1, 1999
  • Article

    Blinded by the Light

    The "dinner party for dead people" play, in which an author gathers people who may or may not have met in real life and plops them into the same room for supper, isn't officially recognized as a dramatic genre. But it's so popular that maybe it ought...

    by Robin Dougherty on March 25, 1999
  • Article

    Gin and Tonic

    Imagine a brainy spider battling cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn and you'll get some idea of the shenanigans onstage in the National Actors Theatre touring production of The Gin Game, starring Julie Harris and Charles Durning. The Tony Randall-prod...

    by Robin Dougherty on March 18, 1999
  • Article

    Reckless Driving

    Li'l Bit, the haunted protagonist of How I Learned to Drive, compares her Uncle Peck to the Flying Dutchman, the legendary figure condemned to travel the Earth until a maiden loves him of her own free will. The play, which won author Paula Vogel the ...

    by Robin Dougherty on March 11, 1999
  • Article

    A Conductor's Moral Discord

    At the center of Taking Sides is a rube, a crass insurance salesman to be exact. A guy who doesn't know Toscanini from teriyaki. A man who sleeps through Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, "because Beethoven's Fifth Symphony bores me shitless," as he explai...

    by Robin Dougherty on March 4, 1999
  • Article

    A Spider Without Bite

    A movie, a novel, a Broadway musical, and a stage play. The only popular dramatic form Kiss of the Spider Woman hasn't conquered is the TV sitcom. Given its high-concept idea (a fussy homosexual and an idealistic politico sharing a small space and be...

    by Robin Dougherty on February 25, 1999
  • Article

    Tongue Repressors

    After the priest has cut out the tongue of the Marquis de Sade, he presents the meaty organ, encased in a black box, to the asylum's caretaker. Handing it over he comments, "It was so long and serpentlike that I had to wrap it around a dowel." Well, ...

    by Robin Dougherty on February 18, 1999
  • Article

    Saved by the Actors

    This is the season during which British playwright David Hare is printing his own currency on Broadway. In April the much ballyhooed The Blue Room, starring a naked Nicole Kidman, will be joined by a New York production of Amy's View, featuring theat...

    by Robin Dougherty on February 11, 1999
  • Article

    Saturday Night Dead

    A woman in Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile makes this comment about the famous painter: "He says that occasionally there is a 'Picasso' and he is him." You can substitute the word genius for Picasso and get the sense of what this phrase mea...

    by Robin Dougherty on February 4, 1999
  • Article

    The Powers That Be

    Imagine you're watching an early play by an obscure playwright -- say, a farce with a plot that's difficult to take seriously. Perhaps it contains a case of mistaken identity, at least one sharp-tongued female character, and some confusion about the ...

    by Robin Dougherty on January 28, 1999
  • Article

    The Age of Tallulah

    Add the late Tallulah Bankhead to the list of middle-age women throwing themselves into the national political fray this year. The celebrated actress, as currently portrayed in the American premiere of Tallulah by movie star Kathleen Turner, has even...

    by Robin Dougherty on January 21, 1999
  • Article

    Shooting Blanks

    "First of all, when you've got a gun," Stephen Sondheim points out in his musical Assassins, "everybody pays attention." That's for sure, as audience members experiencing the third-act explosion in a classic drama such as Chekhov's Three Sisters can ...

    by Robin Dougherty on January 14, 1999
  • Article

    Stripped of Spirit

    She's the Medea of all stage mothers, the most frightening diva of the American musical theater. That would be Mama Rose, of course, the stardom-fixated monster at the center of Gypsy. Since 1959 audiences have clung to her poisonous apron strings, h...

    by Robin Dougherty on January 7, 1999
  • Article

    Mary, Mary, Quite a Parody

    When a damsel with golden ring-curls finds herself tied to railroad trestles by a mustachioed villain, or, as in Little Mary Sunshine, strapped to a tree by a vicious Indian, most audience members know that the lady in peril will be rescued momentari...

    by Robin Dougherty on December 31, 1998
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