Hedwig and the Angry Inch is the most shocking and honest musical of 1997. When it was written, transgender* issues were almost unheard of, with trans* women more frequently finding themselves at the center of a punchline than the center of a musical. Nowadays, however, trans* exposure is far more prevalent and attitudes towards the trans* community have thankfully evolved considerably. As a result, Hedwig feels more quaint than shocking, but it’s still a very solid work of ’90s musical theatre with a fantastic punk-pop score and rivals any show for entertainment value when given a perfect production. This touring production struggles from being mounted in rather poor taste, but features two knockout performances and still is a great evening out, as long as you don’t expect any kind of emotional honesty.
The San Francisco Playhouse, the best regional theatre company in the area, is moving up in the world. After a few years of increasingly impressive productions, finally the company is producing a major world premiere. While I am thrilled that the Playhouse has been given such an opportunity, I’m less thrilled that the play is “Seared”, the new play by Theresa Rebeck. There’s no doubt it’s the best smelling play I’ve ever seen (the show features actual onstage cooking that may have hungry audiences swooning in their seats), but its dramatic integrity is severely lacking.
Tarell Alvin McCraney is just about to become a big deal. True, his plays have been produced all around the world, including in New York, but he has remained mostly obscure. That is all going to change when the 2016 film Moonlight hits theaters, which he has written the script for, based on his own play. It premiered Telluride in September to extremely positive reviews and is tapped to be a major contender this awards season. If you want to see one of the author’s earlier works before that film hits the mainstream, Theatre Rhinoceros is producing The Brothers Size in an effective, if slightly shaky, production.
Imagine in your head the most stereotypical 21st century American play possible. That play that you just imagined Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities, a perfectly tasteful and well-assembled yet mostly unexciting family drama that was by some miracle nominated for the 2011 Pulitzer prize for drama. There’s certainly a time and a place for this kind of play, though, and if you’re in the mood for something talky and political, City Lights has mounted a knockout production of the work.
Little Shop of Horrors is a…..
Today in Ashland I saw two productions. One, a classical and polished production of a Shakespearean romance, the other a rowdy and boisterous production of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. Both were very high quality and absolutely worth seeing, continuing Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s excellent reputation for interesting and high-quality productions.
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, in their effort to produce the entire Shakespeare canon every decade, occasionally has to dust off one of Shakespeare’s far lesser-known works and attempt to breathe some life into it for a modern audience. Timon of Athens is one such play, and while OSF’s production isn’t exactly riveting, it’s a highly interesting evening of theatre that proves that the show is more than just a curiosity.