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  • Article

    Bard Stiff

    Creating theater frequently involves assembling miracles in small spaces. Extremely small spaces, if you happen to be the Florida Playwrights' Theatre (FPT), which is mounting its Fifth Annual Shakespeare Festival in its postage-stamp Hollywood store...

    by Robin Dougherty on September 3, 1998
  • Article

    That Screwball Family of Yours

    There's a moose in the guest bedroom in Michael McKeever's new comedy 37 Postcards. The animal never makes an appearance onstage (a taxidermist crossed its path long before the play begins), but it does take part in the events that unfold when Avery ...

    by Robin Dougherty on August 27, 1998
  • Article

    You'll Die Laughing

    Actor Peter Haig embraces his role as Vincent Vincent, the pivotal character in the British farce Natural Causes, as though he were gorging on the theatrical equivalent of Thanksgiving dinner. Making his way through each savory episode, Haig samples ...

    by Robin Dougherty on August 20, 1998
  • Article

    Psycho Analysis

    Hollywood is openly neurotic about its hatred of psychotherapy. Witness, most recently, Barbra Streisand's ridiculous Dr. Susan Lowenstein in The Prince of Tides who aggressively mischaracterizes the entire profession with each flick of her nails. In...

    by Robin Dougherty on August 13, 1998
  • Article

    Losers and Laughs

    Simpatico may be the funniest play about losers in Sam Shepard's entire prolific output. Long before we meet them, these characters have lost the loves of their lives, aged without grace, and in some cases suffered devastating reversals of fortune. I...

    by Robin Dougherty on August 6, 1998
  • Article

    Between Interest and Boredom

    Summer theater is the sort of oxymoron that conjures up sarcastic epithets such as "dramatic hot dog stand," to use the term coined by George Jean Nathan, the esteemed late American theater critic. Or "straw-hat trail," the term used by others to den...

    by Robin Dougherty on July 30, 1998
  • Article

    Worthy of an Oscar

    The most startling scene in Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde -- having its Florida premiere at the Caldwell Theatre Company in Boca Raton -- opens the second act. It's set on the stage of a twentieth-century talk show on which a fatuo...

    by Robin Dougherty on July 23, 1998
  • Article

    Getting a Kick Out of Cole

    In his five-decade career, Cole Porter wrote songs for Fanny Brice, Fred Astaire, Ethel Merman, Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Durante, and Bert Lahr, just to name a few. One measure of his virtuosity as a composer, however, is that no one singer really owns...

    by Robin Dougherty on July 16, 1998
  • Article

    The Bore of Flatbush

    Milton Berle isn't actually backstage at The Last Supper, but his voice is, if only on Memorex. The Borscht Belt comedian has loaned his name and endorsement to Artie Butler's hapless but ambitious new musical about a hapless but ambitious guy trying...

    by Robin Dougherty on July 9, 1998
  • Article

    The Education of Julie

    Since there aren't many coming-out stories about lesbians in Hoboken, New Jersey, it's easy to imagine why the folks at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville sat up and took notice in 1994 when Wendy Hammond sent in the script for J...

    by Robin Dougherty on July 2, 1998
  • Article

    Stop the Clock

    There's only one genuinely dramatic moment in Cloud Tectonics, but, boy, is it a doozy. A man leaves a room and re-enters it moments later. His clothes are different. He's carrying letters written while he was away. To him, two years have unfolded in...

    by Robin Dougherty on June 25, 1998
  • Article

    Ride 'Em, Valkyries

    Imagine country-western heartthrob Clint Black inhabiting the body of Wagner's romantic hero Siegfried and you'll get the spirit of Das Barbecu, the Hee Haw-inspired adaptation of Wagner's Ring cycle. Yes, that particular Ring cycle. It's the same ni...

    by Robin Dougherty on June 18, 1998
  • Article

    Small Packages

    By June 28, the end of its third season, City Theatre's Summer Shorts festival will have put on 48 new plays on its main stage, about three times the number of productions from your average professional company. In fact, as you read this, fifteen pre...

    by Robin Dougherty on June 11, 1998
  • Article

    Dirty Hands

    There's nothing like a loud bang at the end of Act One to make you impatient for the end of the intermission so you can scurry back to your seat and find out what happens next. Especially if that bang shreds every notion you had about the play up to ...

    by Robin Dougherty on June 4, 1998
  • Article

    No Merit Badges

    Of all the theatrical hams that have wandered across the stage of American pop culture, none have endeared themselves as much as the tiny papier-mache morsel that wanders home atop the legs of Scout Finch near the end of To Kill a Mockingbird. She h...

    by Robin Dougherty on May 28, 1998
  • Article

    All That Chazz

    Roughly the size of a double-wide trailer, the performance space at the Hollywood Boulevard Theatre is so small you can stare into the eyes of the actors, size up their varicose veins, and follow the trajectories of their spit with dumbfounding intim...

    by Robin Dougherty on May 21, 1998
  • Article

    Hold the Pickles, Hold the Poison

    Of the potentially kooky types of people that could be dumped into a play -- lawyers, clairvoyants, fast-food servers, and dying parents -- the most unwieldy are the clairvoyants. Even if an audience buys the notion of second sight, the playwright is...

    by Robin Dougherty on May 14, 1998
  • Article

    Notice of Eviction

    If you sat through three hours of the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning, mega-publicity-hyped musical that promised to change the face of Broadway forever only to wonder, "Is that all there is?" -- read on. If you heard about the ballyhoo last w...

    by Robin Dougherty on May 7, 1998
  • Article

    Rocky Road

    Antisemitropolis is the city Hitler never built. Blame that on playwright Dan Kagan, who imagines it as the name the Nazis gave their section of Heaven -- "a place with only people like them," explains Jerry, a character in Kagan's spirited black com...

    by Robin Dougherty on April 30, 1998
  • Article

    Ship of Fools

    Icebergs figure prominently in Titanic, Christopher Durang's absurdly wild 1974 deconstruction of family life, but then so do hamsters, marmalade, and tortured slices of Wonder Bread. There's no Leonardo DiCaprio, but there is a captain. He's the one...

    by Robin Dougherty on April 23, 1998
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