Palm Beach Dramaworks stages the world premiere of Terry Teachout's newest play, "Billy and Me. "Read the full review
Palm Beach Illustrated chats with playwright Joseph McDonough for a behind-the-scenes look at his newest production.Read the full review
". . . superb production.Read the full review
". . . impassioned production.Read the full review
". . . one of the most affective and effective dramas seen in the region.Read the full review
". . . simply stunning.Read the full review
". . . riveting.Read the full review
". . . outstanding production.
". . . the must see play in Palm Beach this season.Read the full review
". . . the production is so lively, so funny, so entertaining, so painfully relevant, seeing it is well worth the long drive north.Read the full review
"Hats off to the theater for bringing us a show that's as timely as it is entertaining. "Read the full review
"Without exception, the entire cast is all outstanding, nimbly negotiating the filmic and fluid staging which might trip up lesser actors. Backed by a five-piece band, they infuse the score with the pop of personality. "Read the full review
"The opening of this "1776" is winking postmodern flash; it's the subtle grace of movement that lends this independence celebration its fireworks. "Read the full review
"An inspiring and unique piece of musical theater to enjoy at Palm Beach Dramaworks this July. "Read the full review
"It is one of the best musical theater performances you will see this season. "Read the full review
"It is THE musical of the year in South Florida. "Read the full review
"At Dramaworks, the critic-turned-playwright demonstrates his ability to craft a compelling production, with a great collaborative assist from set designer Michael Amico, costume designer Erin Amico, lighting designer Kirk Bookman and Matt Corey, whose own background as a musician immeasurably enhances the subtle richness of his sound design. "Read the full review
"Truly a must see production in an impressive end to the season. "Read the full review
"If all this sounds like a lot for one actor to handle, that's because it is. But Henley attacks all three roles with vigor, bringing depth to each man and never slipping into caricature territory. He does Pops proud. "Read the full review
"Terry Teachout, the esteemed theatre critic of the Wall Street Journal has gone full circle, from Louis Armstrong's biographer, Pops; A Life of Louis Armstrong, to playwright, Satchmo at the Waldorf, and now director of his own play on the Dramaworks stage. His biography is a work of prodigious scholarship and intellect while the play is clearly written straight from the heart. "Read the full review
"Barry Shabaka Henley's appealing performance at Palm Beach Dramaworks as the proud, genial, troubled Louis (not Louie) quietly seduces the audience without any histrionics until late in the play. It's as if Armstrong is sharing reveries with a new friend visiting backstage. " "It's well worth the chance to sit down and visit with the inner soul of a man who we thought we knew, but didn't. "Read the full review
". . . by the end of the show, Armstrong feels like a friend, deserving of our respect and even affection.Read the full review
"The play takes place over the course of a single day and it is a long day's journey – three-and-a-quarter hours in director William Hayes' crisp, clean production. He has gathered four actors of presence and power, then unleashed them to devour O'Neill's emotionally potent dialogue. "Read the full review
"What sets Palm Beach Dramaworks' production apart from other iterations is the actors' ability to captivate theatregoers. . . " ".Read the full review
Read the full review
"The 81st production in the West Palm Beach company's 16-year history, the play has been staged by artistic director William Hayes, who unearths the guilt, recrimination, sorrow and fleeting flashes of humor in O'Neill's four-act script. "Read the full review
"In short, if you are ready to see the greatest American play, and perhaps one of its best productions, take a journey with the Tyrone family and strap on your seat belt at Dramaworks. "Read the full review
"The J. Barry Lewis-helmed production of the Tony and Olivier award winner at Palm Beach Dramaworks brims with life, thanks to Colin McPhillamy's out-sized performance as the eccentric teacher Hector and the vibrant young actors who play the irrepressible students at a boys' school in northern England in the 1980s. "Read the full review
"It is all placed perfectly on the stage with Dramaworks' signature sure-handed production, from costumes and sets to sound and lighting design. " "The cast is magnificent. . .Read the full review
"It is hard to fathom any other theater in the area tackling as idea-packed a play as "The History Boys" or producing it as well as Palm Beach Dramaworks has. "Read the full review
"All this '80s awesomeness and a plethora of strong performances truly make The History Boys one of Palm Beach Dramaworks' strongest efforts to date. "Read the full review
". . . superb.Read the full review
". . . a revelation.Read the full review
". . . beautiful.Read the full review
". . . simply magical.Read the full review
". . . touching.Read the full review
". . . masterful.Read the full review
Resplendent in a white, strapless dress, Billie Holiday walks up to the microphone as if it were an old friend. But we can tell something is slightly off with her. With Tracy Conyer Lee's portrayal of Holiday in "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill," the jazz singer comes off as fragile and hesitant even before she launches into a satiny smooth "I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone. " That gloss melts off in this play with music running.Read the full review
The tall order is. . . filled by Tracey Conyer Lee in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill at Palm Beach Dramaworks in West Palm Beach.Read the full review
Philadelphia was the city of no brotherly love for the great jazz singer-songwriter Billie Holiday. It was, after all, the place where she was tried and convicted of drug possession, leading to her year-long imprisonment and the subsequent revoking of her cabaret card, seriously curtailing her ability to work. Yet here she stands, on the stage of a small, seedy bar in South Philly, in late winter of 1959, a mere few months before she would be found dead. Gussied up in a long white strapless gown and gloves, she stands unsteadily at a microphone, staring down a sparse midnight audience and standing up to her personal demons.Read the full review
Veil after veil are slowly stripped away from the elegant sophisticated stage persona that is "Billie Holiday" until standing exposed is a blunted devastated victim of racism, sexism and abuse – some imposed and some self-inflicted — in Palm Beach Dramaworks' incisive Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill. Although the play occurs during a single club date, actress Tracey Conyer Lee and director J. Barry Lewis successfully chart Holiday's disintegration over decades.Read the full review
You'd be hard-pressed to find a more dysfunctional family than the one Sam Shepard portrays in his play Buried Child. Palm Beach Dramaworks' production of the 1979 Pulitzer Prize winner exposes the characters' dirty laundry to chilling effect. Shepard casts the play in a seemingly realistic framework but loads it with symbolism and bizarre incidents that push it into the absurdist camp. As steered by J.Read the full review
A decrepit and decayed mist hangs over "Buried Child" at Palm Beach Dramaworks in West Palm Beach. You can sense it even before the Pulitzer Prize-winning Sam Shepard play starts in earnest. Even before the house lights dim in the theater, Dodge (Rob Donohoe) wanders onto the set, a bare-bones living room in a rundown farmhouse, and watches a TV that has been plopped down on the floor. .Read the full review
Thomas Wolfe was misinformed. You can go home again, but you risk not being recognized. Just ask Vince of Sam Shepard's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Buried Child," the grandson from New York who drives to his family's remote, rundown farm in Illinois, expecting a warm welcome after six years away. What he gets is puzzling indifference, but that is hardly the oddest thing that happens in this symbol-laden, absurdist look at the ties that bind the American family.Read the full review
"Home" sparks many homilies: Home is where the heart is. Home is where they have to take you in. But Palm Beach Dramaworks' intellectually and artistically thrilling production of Sam Shepard's Buried Child is not about home alone, but about family and the abyss between the two ideas. The homily uttered here is "You think just because people procreate that they have to love their offspring.Read the full review
Palm Beach Dramaworks presents Sam Shepard's Buried Child at the Don & Ann Brown Theatre. As a leader of avant-garde, contemporary theatre, Shepard's plays are often outside the category of mainstream American theatrical fare. . .Read the full review
<b>A failed American novelist inherits a luxurious but crumbling Paris apartment that's occupied by two iron-willed Frenchwomen in 'My Old Lady'</b> Israel Horovitz, who in the '60s and '70s was one of New York's most prolific and talked-about playwrights, is now better known in France, where more than 50 of his plays have been translated and produced, than in his native land. In My Old Lady first seen off Broadway in 2002 and now being performed with delicacy and grace by Palm Beach Dramaworks, he tacitly acknowledged this unjust state of affairs by writing a play set in Paris that he calls "a love letter thanking France for giving me my French life. " My Old Lady is a three-hander whose plot is set in motion by Mathias (Tim Altmeyer), a failed American novelist with a weakness for drink who inherits a luxurious but crumbling Paris apartment from his otherwise indifferent father. The apartment, as he learns when he travels to France to sell it, has been occupied for the past half-century by two iron-willed Frenchwomen who haven't the slightest intention of quitting the premises, a vinegary spinster named Chloé (Angelica Page) and her mother (Estelle Parsons), a worldly nonagenarian who is given to speaking her mind with alarming directness.Read the full review
You easily intuit that an armoire full of family secrets will be uncovered in the crucible of a musty old Parisian apartment in Israel Horovitz's My Old Lady; and it matters not that you can guess some of them before they tumble into view. What matters is not the nature of the secrets, but the gradual revelation of the persisting damage they have wreaked and whether the survivors will find a path past them. Palm Beach Dramaworks' finely-crafted, witty and ultimately moving production uses those secrets to expose the sometimes unintentional, sometimes thoughtless psychological injuries that parents inflict upon their children.Read the full review
"Our Town" is one of those classic American works whose power comes in its seemingly benign nature. Some seven decades after its debut, Thornton Wilder's look at the cycle of life in a quiet New England town might seem as sleepy as Grover's Corners itself. But as Palm Beach Dramaworks' current adaptation proves, its emotional gut punch sneaks up on you in the quiet. It seems useless to issue spoiler alerts for a 76 year-old play, and indeed the Stage Manager (Colin McPhillamy) matter-of-factly introduces the audience to at least two of the players with not only their names, but when and how they will die.
One of the funniest characters in "Tootsie" is a scraggly looking avant-garde playwright who sums up his goal in life as follows: "I like it when a guy comes up to me a week later and says, 'Hey, man, I saw your play. . . what happened?Read the full review
There's a good deal of talk about the past in Old Times, the Harold Pinter play currently featured at Palm Beach Dramaworks in West Palm Beach. But the accounts differ. Whatever's going on is beneath the surface and never solidifies into a situation most people could agree on. .Read the full review
– We met at nine – We met at eight – I was on time.Read the full review
Figuring out where you stand as a member of King Henry II's family in The Lion in Winter is rather like standing on a pond of cracking ice. You never know when the next step will land you in deadly waters. The witty, emotionally savvy production of James Goldman’s comic drama at Palm Beach Dramaworks doesn’t give any road maps for survival. But it is a thoroughly engaging study of the workings of one of the most dysfunctional families in history.
"Try; you can hear the thinking through the walls," King Henry II says in the solid-as-a-rock Palm Beach Dramaworks production of "The Lion in Winter". . .
If the law of primogeniture were in effect in England in 1183, there would have been a clear order of royal succession. Not only would history be drastically altered, but there would be no basis for James Goldman to write "The Lion in Winter," the fictional battle of words and wits among the Plantagenets. In it, King Henry II is 50, an age where he is "the oldest man I know," and understandably concerned about his legacy and the future of his realm. .
To summarize The Lion in Winter as a drama about a dysfunctional family (as we have done regretfully) is to facilely devalue James Goldman's merciless examination of just how base the human animal can be in the grip of power, greed and ambition. Director William Hayes and a fine cast make the most of the acerbic gallows humor in the Palm Beach Dramaworks' bravura production, but they also build Goldman's underlying case for the less than laudable aspects of our nature. These feral jungle creatures wearing royal robes and speaking round-toned English are deceitful, even vicious, no-holds-barred fighters who make the scheming politicians in <i>House of Cards</i> look like amateurs. It is only in the finale when the players have laid waste to the world around them, destroyed whatever they have built over the decades and are peering into a bleak future that Goldman delivers a nearly hopeful finish that honors the resilience of Mankind, a nobility that separate him from the animals.
The saddest thing about the "Of Mice and Men" staged by Palm Beach Dramaworks is that John Steinbeck's themes of cruelty, isolation, powerlessness and abuse still sting hurtfully and still ring truthfully. Helmed with a steady and sure hand by PBD's resident director, J. Barry Lewis, this version is solidly acted and handsomely produced. The set of what appears to be weathered wood and panels of corrugated tin, lit as through a haze of dust, takes you right out of downtown West Palm Beach's Clematis Street.
It is often noted in "Of Mice and Men" that migrant workers tend to be loners. That makes the symbiotic team of scrappy, parental George Milton and hulking, mentally stunted Lennie Small a rarity that draws suspicion from the other ranch hands in John Steinbeck's enduring, dusty, downbeat drama. Solitary drifters are the opposite of theater folk, who depend on each other in this most collaborative of arts. That interconnection among performers is particularly evident in the new production at Palm Beach Dramaworks, an exceptional display of ensemble acting under J.
Anyone would be fortunate to have a friend like George or Lennie, the itinerant farmworker protagonists of John Steinbeck's Depression-era drama Of Mice and Men. In a world that regards them as disposable, they stick to each other through thick and thin. In Palm Beach Dramaworks' rendition of the 1937 play adapted from the classic novella, John Leonard Thompson's and Brendan Titley's performances are the blazing campfire around which everything warms its hands. Thompson's natural intensity is ideally suited for the tightly wound George.
. . . The magic of this script, the actors' performances and the skill of director J.
"In memory, atmosphere is more real than incident. " So says Michael, the poetic narrator of "Dancing at Lughnasa" and alter ego of playwright Brian Friel, who recalls the hardscrabble life of his mother and her four spinster sisters who raised him in the Irish village of Ballybeg. He paints such vivid portraits of the Mundy women and their forlorn existence that it may only occur as an afterthought how little actually happens over the course of the play. .
There's quite a bit of dancing, as the play's name would suggest, in Dancing at Lughnasa, Irish playwright Brian Friel's fragile yet powerful family drama on view at Palm Beach Dramaworks. The dancing erupts unexpectedly – and sometimes fiercely – among the Mundy sisters, five unmarried women struggling to make sense of a world on the brink of seismic shifts in the late summer of 1936, even as they grapple with more intimate conflicts simmering inside their rural farmhouse in County Donegal.
The play "Dancing at Lughnasa" draws you in Sensurround style, enveloping you so gently into its world that before you know it, you care . . . much more than you could have ever imagined.
Brian Friel's award-winning Dancing at Lughnasa is a delicate memory play, a portrait of an Irish family poor in material things but rich in love. Like a treasured scrapbook photograph come to life, the warm-hearted drama paints a portrait of grown siblings unknowingly approaching the moment when their family would break apart. The final play of the season at Palm Beach Dramaworks, Dancing at Lughnasa is bittersweet, tender and altogether beguiling. .
. . . The tale is told in flashback by the grown narrator Michael Mundy, who then was a seven-year-old child born out of wedlock to one sister and is being raised by the five women as one.
<b>Challenging Work Reigns Supreme</b> In this time of shrinking economies and underwhelming support for live performance, it's the norm for theaters to take the secure road. Local troupes tend to mount the tried and true – Neil Simon plays or another go 'round of toe-tapping, familiar musicals. So, for a theater company to take a chance on an absurdist play, they need to have the confidence to pull off such a feat, and an audience that is willing to go along for the ride.
Professional productions of absurdist plays are not quite as rare as snow in South Florida, but they're pretty scarce. Palm Beach Dramaworks put together a highly praised production of Eugene Ionesco's The Chairs in 2008, and now it has returned to the work of that masterful playwright with Exit the King. Translated by Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush and Australian director Neil Armfield. .
Just as the rich and famous have to put on their pants one leg at a time, just like the rest of us, even kings have to face mortality, just as we all do. So it goes for King Berenger I, the title character of Eugène Ionesco's absurdist tragicomedy, Exit the King, on view currently at Palm Beach Dramaworks. Berenger, a character who also shows up in <i>Rhinoceros</i>, is the alter ego of Ionesco, who was himself preoccupied with this own death. .
The word "hilarious" rarely applies to a bleak unblinking play about mortality, but Palm Beach Dramaworks' superb production of Eugene Ionesco's Exit The King earns it, along with "profoundly thought-provoking" and other accolades. Simply, it ranks among the best work that the company has mounted in its 13 seasons. Part Marx Brothers, part Existentialism, this reimagining of Ionesco's most accessible and linear absurdist play includes two tour de force performances by Colin McPhillamy and Angie Radosh, and endlessly inventive direction by William Hayes with Lynette Barkley. It's true that watching a play about a man dying slowly makes audience members check their watches occasionally;
They ought to issue seat belts for the production of A Raisin in the Sun at Palm Beach Dramaworks. The show is a two hour-plus roller coaster ride of emotional peaks and valleys fueled by a gifted cast and driven by a director deeply in tune with the story. Lorraine Hansberry's classic, semi-autobiographical play about the havoc wrought by a big insurance payment on the lives of a working-class black family living in Chicago in the 1950s is packed with harrowing plot turns, rich characters and big issues. Racial prejudice frames the story, but the conflicts, hopes and dreams that propel the characters are not bounded by color.
The verdict: A landmark play of black America. . . well performed here under guest director Scott.
What makes a play political? Sometimes it's all in the timing. "A Raisin in the Sun," Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 drama about a black family that wants to move to a white neighborhood, doubtless came across as strongly political when it first opened on Broadway. How could it have been otherwise?
. . . Its story of a black working-class Chicago family facing life-changing decisions drew black and white theatergoers, audiences who were deeply moved by Hansberry's provocative, insightful play.
. . . the emotional wallops arrive in every deepening wave of gut-wrenching, heart-rending passion, arguably all the more potent for having emerged from such a quiet, prosaic run up.
You might call Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance an adult take on the fears that convinced us as children that a monster lurked under the bed. But the monsters of maturity aren't so easily dispelled. Palm Beach Dramaworks' production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play will provoke thought, if not always engage sympathy, as is so often the case with Albee's stories. By the play's end, you're likely to feel chilled, and not just because few of the characters are likable.
There are so many universal undercurrents in A Delicate Balance: relationships, friendships, family, marriage, couples growing older together, empty nest syndrome, greed, hypocrisy, infidelity, addiction, The American D ream, that there is something that is bound to hit a nerve. First, however, you have to wade through playwright Edward Albee's exposition. While his dialogue may seem dense at times, it takes a
Since Palm Beach Dramaworks specializes in producing Pulitzer Prize-winning plays as well as works by Edward Albee, it was probably inevitable that the West Palm Beach company would get around to 1966's "A Delicate Balance. " It is generally accepted that Albee, America's greatest living playwright, was given his first Pulitzer chiefly as a consolation for having been denied one four years earlier for his masterpiece, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? " Even so, there is little doubt that "A Delicate Balance" is a great play as well. The proof is currently on display in a chilling, powerfully performed production on Clematis Street through Jan.
. . . The first of three Albee plays to win the Pulitzer (Seascape and Three Tall Women are the others), A Delicate Balance is getting a superb revival at Palm Beach Dramaworks.
A nameless terror has upended the fragile homeostasis in Agnes and Tobias' carefully-ordered uppercrust existence, all the more frightening because its anonymity makes it uncomfortably universal for the audience at Palm Beach Dramaworks' production of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance. . . What starts as a play about a troubled family of privilege, which keeps our attention simply because they are engagingly hyper-articulate, then ends as a shattering indictment of self-deception and hypocrisy in human interaction.
"Talley's Folly" contains at least one of those Herculean roles a stage actor can hope to play two or three times in his career. In Lanford Wilson's two-character play, first produced in 1979 and running at Palm Beach Dramaworks through Nov. 11, the character of Matt Friedman is onstage for every second of the 97-minute running time. There are no breaks, no intermissions and nary a silent moment.
Secret romantics and those who wear their hearts on their sleeves more openly will be charmed by Palm Beach Dramaworks' production of Talley's Folly, a tale of a mismatched couple on the cusp of middle age who blunder into love. Lanford Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play has only two characters, little action and is undeniably talky. Without a true impresario at the heart of it, the one-act show would drag. Fortunately, Brian Wallace's mercurial performance as the Jewish accountant Matt Friedman drives and illuminates the story.
Opposites attract in the Palm Beach Dramaworks production of 'Talley's Folly. ' . . .
Palm Beach Dramaworks kicks off its season with Lanford Wilson's Pulitzer winner. . . .
If you heard that Palm Beach Dramaworks picked The Fantasticks as its summer show and thought, "oh, that old thing," don't be so quick to assume that a 1960 musical fable has become irrelevant. . . .
The verdict: A The classic long-running off-Broadway musical of young love and loss of innocence still manages to charm us with its artful simplicity. Although it ran off-Broadway for 42 years– a total of 17,162 performances, more than any show in modern history– The Fantasticks is a very fragile piece of theater.
The finely crafted production of The Fantasticks at Palm Beach Dramaworks is a good example of the maxim less is more. Director J. Barry Lewis' pared-down approach suits the odd little musical and Palm Beach Dramaworks' intimate stage. .
Palm Beach Dramaworks made great use of their new space on Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach with a fresh production of the world's longest running musical "The Fantasticks" on Friday night. This beautifully designed and crisply-performed version breathed new life into an aging show with such high potential to miss the mark. However, director J. Barry Lewis wisely reminds his audience that there is much more to this love story;
A gentle, compassionate smile at human folly suffuses The Fantasticks when it's produced as well as Palm Beach Dramaworks has. Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt's classic chamber musical is a refreshing tumbler of iced lemonade on a sweltering night in West Palm Beach, a cocktail of reassuring sweetness spiced with a tang of reproving caution. Its deceptive simplicity has tricked hundreds of high schools and community theaters into producing mediocre iterations of a truly transcendent piece. Striking the precise tone is dauntingly difficult.
In a play that's all about proof, there's plenty of doubt to go around. And that's a good thing for audiences at Palm Beach Dramaworks, where playwright David Auburn's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama <i>Proof</i> is on view in a taut, nuanced production marked by memorable performances from its four actors. As the play begins, Catherine is clearly depressed. We eventually learn why, via her interactions with others as well as a series of extended flashbacks that are handled seamlessly, thanks in great part to Katherine Michelle Tanner's adroit transformations as Catherine.
The verdict: Auburn's award-winning family drama, wrapped around an academic mystery tale, brought to vivid life by its four-member cast. They may not be mathematicians, but the artistic staff of Palm Beach Dramaworks knows a winning formula when they see it. Take a thoughtful, well-written play, cast it with talented actors and then stand back so that nothing gets in the way of the audience's enjoyment. The proof that such an equation works is now on view at the company's Brown Theatre in an involving production of <i>Proof</i>, the 2001 Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner by David Auburn.
. . . Winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize, <i>Proof</i> is a smart, absorbing, moving play about family, loyalty, love and sacrifice.
. . . Dealing with people, on the other hand, is messy.
South African-born playwright Athol Fugard trusts his audience to hang in and listen carefully as he lights a purposely slow fuse, knowing that they will be rewarded for their patience with an explosive theatrical climax. Certainly that is the case with Master Harold. . .
South African playwright Athol Fugard has spent most of his career spinning dramatic metaphors about the consequences of apartheid – the policy of racial discrimination that tragically divided his nation. His ability to capture the human toll of that systemic blight with just a few characters is artfully demonstrated in Master Harold. .
In Master Harold. . . and the boys, Athol Fugard tells a deeply personal story about the heavy cost of racism.
The obscenity that was racism in South Africa in the mid 20th Century depicted in Master Harold. . . and the boys may be less virulent today, but Athol Fugard's 1982 play remains a gut punch of theater because the poison so clearly persists around us all with a dispiriting universality.
Athol Fugard's Master Harold. . . and the boys, a memory-inspired play set in South Africa during the early years of apartheid, is a drama that could have grown dated, given the march of history.
The Depression-era British coal miners in Lee Hall's The Pitmen Painters are the least likely candidates to become artists imaginable. They began working in the pits when they were 10 or 11. They've never even seen a painting. But Hall clearly admires them, and by the end of Palm Beach Dramaworks' artfully nuanced production, they not only win our respect, but also our affection.
. . . Hall, best known for writing <i>Billy Elliot</i> as both a film and a musical, uses the miners' history to explore issues of art and the nature of talent, while downplaying the human struggle of these men.
Lee Hall's play The Pitmen Painters is also based in real life, being the tale of a group of coal miners from Northern England who rose to prominence in the art world in the 1930s. . . .
Art as an ennobling sanctification for both the artist and the observer whose interpretation completes the symbiotic circle is just one of a dozen themes swirling around Palm Beach Dramaworks' stimulating production of The Pitmen Painters. Dramawork's skilled ensemble of character actors led by director J. Barry Lewis delivers a thought-provoking. .
<b>The fact-based ‘Pitmen Painters' looks at British miners who became outsider artists. </b> . . .
Memory is one of life's greatest mysteries. By its very nature, memory is a reconstruction– not a perfect replica– of the past.Read the full review
. . . Palm Beach Dramaworks' new production of "<i>Gamma Rays</i>" would be worthy of note for that reason alone.
The verdict: (A-) A 40-year-old Pulitzer-winning drama of a dysfunctional family, with a fine all-female cast led by Laura Turnbull as the embittered mother. . . .
Let's nail this comparison down first: Beatrice Hunsdorfer might not outclass Norman Bates' mother for meanest matriarch ever committed to fiction, but she sure is a stinker. Hunsdorfer is the monstrous single mom who, over two vicious acts and with increasingly bizarre displays of desperation, proceeds to crush her children's ambitions in Paul Zindel's Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. " Running through Jan. 29 at Palm Beach Dramaworks.
Even with the stamp of approval of the Pulitzer Prize and the name recognition that comes with a film version that starred Joanne Woodward, Paul Zindel's stage play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds is rarely revived. It is a fragile tale of a young girl's survival despite a bitter, abusive mother, a play that could easily be derailed in lesser hands, but you would never suspect that from viewing the assured production at Palm Beach Dramaworks. . .
Although the playwright of <i>Marigolds</i> wants you to walk away in awe of some people's resilience to overcome horrific beginnings, the takeaway from Palm Beach Dramaworks' production is the merciless erosion that life blindly wreaks on the human spirit. This edition of Paul Zindel's The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds skews to the darker side of that equation because of the overwhelming bravura performance of Laura Turnbull as an embittered, self-pitying mother wildly striking out at her daughters as displaced revenge for the blighted tragedy that chance has made of her life. It's a scathing, fearless portrait by a great actress with a solid director that leaves everything else, as the apt cliche goes, in the shade. .
<b>Laura Turnbull shines in Palm Beach Dramaworks' revival of a Pulitzer-winning play. </b> Beatrice Hunsdorfer might not claim the title worst mom of all time – sadly, the world is never short of monstrous mothers – but she is definitely in the running.
. . . All My Sons.
<b>Arthur Miller's timeless play launches a season and a space for the West Palm Beach company. </b> Arthur Miller's All My Sons was the great playwright's first Broadway success. Topically raw when it debuted in 1947, this homespun American tragedy explores a businessman's decision to put family and fortune before morality. Though it takes place not long after the end of World War II, All My Sons still has dramatic weight, contemporary resonance and the ability to deeply touch an audience, setting off gasps and calling forth tears.
Palm Beach Dramaworks sure knows how to open a theater. The company, formerly located in a tiny space on Banyan Street in downtown West Palm Beach, has moved to new digs around the corner at the edge of the waterfront on Clematis Street, downtown's main drag. The old Cuillo Theatre has been renamed the Don & Ann Brown Theatre, after donors who believed so much in the theater company's quality that they invested millions in their future. .
Arthur Miller's 1947 drama All My Sons, his first commercial success on Broadway, has numerous thematic and narrative similarities to <i>Death of a Salesman</i>, the Pulitzer Prize winner that premiered two years later. But if the earlier play has been under the shadow of the playwright's masterwork, you would never know it from the powerful new production at Palm Beach Dramaworks. Long on the West Palm Beach company's to-do list, it deferred producing All My Sons until moving into its new home, the far roomier, yet still intimate performance space created from the former Cuillo Centre for the Arts. There it benefits from a stunning two-story set by resident designer Michael Amico, a richly detailed, lived-in Ohio home, porch and backyard of the Keller family.
The Beauty Queen of Leenane: The verdict: (A) A darkly comic, well-acted Irish tale of a mother-daughter emotional tug-of-war, with some grisly surprises. As its name implies, Palm Beach Dramaworks rarely ventures into the realm of comedy, but it has made an exception with Martin McDonagh's darkly humorous and rather grisly The Beauty Queen of Leenane. . .
Palm Beach Dramaworks' production of Martin McDonagh's The Beauty Queen of Leenane blends the grubby truculence of David Mamet's plays about American lowlife with the banked horror of an Alfred Hitchcock film. The play is propelled by brilliant performances from Barbara Bradshaw and Kati Brazda and note-perfect direction by William Hayes. . .
Fifteen years ago, the theater world gained a dazzling new voice. Martin McDonagh's The Beauty Queen of Leenane debuted the playwright's blend of confrontational comedy, melancholy-infused drama and shocking violence. Audiences have been devouring his striking work ever since. .
The verdict: (A-) Margulies' Pulitzer-winning look at marriage and friendships, sorely tested by the stress of divorce, in a well-performed, potent production. If you think sustaining a marriage is difficult, consider how hard it is hold onto a close friendship.
. . . Director J.
How well do you really know your best friends? Or your spouse, for that matter? Playwright Donald Margulies' ruminations on those questions in Dinner With Friends won him the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for drama. At Palm Beach Dramaworks, the insightful, resonant script is getting a new and beautifully acted production under the graceful direction of J.
In the cash-strapped but quality-conscious world of regional theater, a smart small-cast show about a famous personage of the past is about as close as you can get to a sure thing. It stands to reason, then, that Palm Beach Dramaworks, whose slogan is "Theatre to Think About," should have rushed to put "Freud's Last Session," Mark St. Germain's two-man play about an imaginary meeting between Sigmund Freud and C. S.
Theater at its most basic is about language and ideas. That is well illustrated by Mark St. Germain's two-character debate play, Freud's Last Session, a fictional meeting of the minds between Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis and a staunch atheist, and C. S.
If you were the kind of college student who sat up till the wee hours with your roommate arguing philosophical questions, you'll revel in Palm Beach Dramaworks' intellectual fencing match, Freud's Last Session. . . .
<b>Palm Beach Dramaworks stages assured production of George Bernard Shaw romantic comedy</b> Just as rare as works by Eugene O'Neill or Henrik Ibsen in South Florida are professional productions of the plays of George Bernard Shaw. Yet serious-minded Palm Beach Dramaworks has now presented all three of these towering writers in as many seasons, including an assured and winning mounting of Shaw's "Candida," now at the West Palm Beach theater through Nov. 21. .
. . . No matter how adventuresome South Florida theater can be, it is hard to recall a professional company willing to tackle the performance demands of Shaw.
Question: What do you have when you're in a room full of the smartest people in town? Answer: A play by George Bernard Shaw. In this case, it's Palm Beach Dramaworks' production of Shaw's delicious but dizzyingly dense comic treatise on love and marriage, Candida. For two hours, intelligent human beings skewer commonly accepted notions of romance and fidelity while attempting to discover a new definition for an honest relationship.
Residents of the Bentley Retirement Home are not going gentle into that good night. The septuagenarians are shouting, crying and cursing to punctuate their refusal to lay down and die in Palm Beach Dramaworks' The Gin Game. . .
It's easy to see that Barbara Bradshaw and Peter Haig have acted in more than 40 productions together. Seated center stage at a rickety card table in second-hand chairs on a seen-better-days porch, Bradshaw as Fonsia Dorsey and Haig as Weller Martin play welfare residents of an old-age home. In the cocoon of the well-designed set festooned with cast offs. .
Edward Albee can be a very cruel writer, but always honestly so, and his cruelty can take different forms. The action and dialogue in his 1994 play "Three Tall Women" may lack the venom-spitting meanness that characterized his most famous portraits of domestic estrangements, but this self-described autobiographical exorcism of his demons nonetheless presents his dying mother in quite an unflattering light. After alienating everyone with whom she was close, the 92-year-old woman is now chair- and bed-ridden, suffering from osteoporosis and Alzheimer's, unable to control her bowels. The lack of sympathy Albee feels toward the character is reportedly based on his own past;
He has never actually been to Palm Beach Dramaworks' West Palm Beach theater, but with five of his plays produced there, Edward Albee is the company's unofficial resident playwright. . . .
. . . That Palm Beach Dramaworks has mounted a sumptuous production of Three Tall Women is no surprise.
"You might consider Three Tall Women as a cautionary tale. Edward Albee's fictionalized account of how his mother, Frances Albee, grew from an idealistic young woman to a bitter, lonely harridan exposes her wrong turns and makes plain that the very qualities that sustain us can be our undoing. The Pulitzer Prize-winning play is being given a unflinching production under the guidance of resident director J. Barry Lewis at Palm Beach Dramaworks.
When Edward Albee's Three Tall Women premiered in 1994, much was made of the play's tabloid aspects. The renowned writer who had renounced a world of privilege was now aiming his acid-dipped pen at the adoptive mother on whom he turned his back. ". .
"From the moment we meet 'Three Tall Women' we are mesmerized by the dynamic relationship between them. . . " Edward Albee's play is powerfully produced by Palm Beach Dramaworks in West Palm Beach in a run that lasts through June 13.
After some of playwright David Mamet’s recent anemic attempts at whimsy (<i>Romance</i>, <i>November</i>), it is a pleasure to be reminded by his 1977 Broadway breakthrough, American Buffalo, how visceral and, yes, poetic he can be. The poetry is of the fragmentary, high-profanity, elliptical street type, but at Palm Beach Dramaworks, a trio of capable actors are demonstrating that the dialogue need not sound disconcertingly stylized just because it looks that way on the page. . .
Despite being one of the most difficult writers to speak, David Mamet is one of the most produced playwrights in the tri-county area. It's a testament to the audacity of South Florida's artistic directors and the talent of our actors. . .
The petty crooks in David Mamet's American Buffalo cook up a heist as much to salve injured pride and shore up sagging egos as they do for the money. Their ineptitude would be funny if it weren't for the threat of violence humming beneath the surface. The production at Palm Beach Dramaworks. .
A season ago on Broadway, a badly miscast production of David Mamet's American Buffalo cast doubt on the theatrical viability of this 1977 low-rent, high-profanity heist play. But now comes Palm Beach Dramaworks, which usually traffics in neglected classics rather than those with tarnished reputations, to show that this verbal sparring match still has plenty of punch. . .
The first time I saw American Buffalo I scratched my head in confusion and wondered what it was all about. With the Palm Beach Dramaworks revival of David Mamet's ground-breaking serio-comic 1976 play, I finally get it. American Buffalo satirizes the work ethic and America's free enterprise system. .
How do you make science stageworthy? One way is by dramatizing the lives of scientists. Another is by using their ideas as a pretext for talking about something completely different. In "<i>The Life of Galileo</i>" and "Copenhagen," Bertolt Brecht and Michael Frayn seem to split the difference--but it isn't hard to see where their true sympathies lie.
How much of what we remember actually occurred as we remember it? That is the question explored in Copenhagen, Michael Frayn's chatty, abstract play about the horrors brilliant minds can create and the unpredictability of memory. Thanks to taut direction by resident director J. Barry Lewis and stellar performances by a dream cast, the production at Palm Beach Dramaworks isn't rambling and dryly intellectual, which, considering the amount of physics expounded, is a hazard.
Theatergoers who feel they know playwright Michael Frayn from the evidence of his most successful stage work, the backstage farce <i>Noises Off! </i> -- or even from his thoughtful drama on the architecture of relationships, Benefactors, which Palm Beach Dramaworks produced in 2008 -- are bound to be taken aback by his most cerebral script, the 2000 Tony Award-winning best play Copenhagen. True, they are each constructed like a puzzle, asking an audience to consider the central matter at hand from multiple perspectives, but if the two earlier plays make demands of us, and they do, Copenhagen is like a theatrical graduate course, using nuclear physics as a metaphor for an enigmatic moment in history that has intrigued and perplexed students of World War II for almost 70 years. The good news is much of the scientific jargon that Frayn tosses about is not crucial to one’s enjoyment of the bracing Dramaworks production, directed with precision by J.
Like particles in a chain reaction, shards of physics, politics and passion ricochet around the tiny stage at Palm Beach Dramaworks as Copenhagen provides one of the most exhilarating theater-going experiences of 2009. If you're seeking mindless passive fare, this isn't it. Michael Frayn's masterpiece about scientific responsibility, friendship and the impossibility of knowing anything will require you to engage your mind, dive into intellectual waters and thrash around fearing you'll drown. Not only is this superbly acted and directed work "not everyone's cup of tea," it's guaranteed to outpace anyone's brain several times during the evening.
Long before Copenhagen became synonymous with a climate change accord, it was the site of a brief, mysterious meeting between two nuclear physicists, a meeting that may have changed the course of World War II. . . .
Margery Lowe's performance as Nora in Palm Beach Dramaworks' A Doll's House will split audiences. It's not Lowe's fault; that's the part. She bravely and skillfully inhabits Henrik Ibsen's flawed heroine, who learns that her sheltered life is a sham she cannot live with.
. . . its view of women and the marriage dynamic is likely to seem quaint, if not antiquated, Palm Beach Dramaworks demonstrates that the play is still plenty stageworthy.
When we meet Nora Helmer at the start of A Doll's House she's content to be the lapdog of her domineering husband and the playmate of her three children. Little does she know that during the next few days she will be tested to the breaking point. Nora's ordeal comes to a crisis in a taut production of Henrik Ibsen's 1879 masterpiece at Palm Beach Dramaworks in West Palm Beach. Margery Lowe's radiant Nora is like the high sustained vibrato note of a violin rising above the orchestra of a strong supporting cast.
<b>The verdict</b>: Strong performances from the two lead actors do Noel Coward proud in his timeless comedy about a divorced couple who still have the hots for each other. <i>Lives</i>, now playing at Palm Beach Dramaworks, is widely considered one of Coward’s funniest plays. The humor is biting and sharper than a Ginsu knife. But what’s even more impressive is that the show has stood the test of time and doesn’t feel dated even though it was written nearly 80 years ago.
Perhaps as important as romance to a successful relationship is a well-matched pair of witty bickerers. And maybe that is as good a definition of love as you could hope to find. At least that is the philosophy of Noel Coward in his 1930 classic comedy, Private Lives, now receiving a robust, satisfying production at Palm Beach Dramaworks. .
Good dramatic theater should engage your mind while making you dissect what you saw long after the final curtain calls have been taken. Palm Beach Dramaworks prides itself on staging shows that do just that. And the small West Palm Beach theater company has done it again with At Home at the Zoo, Edward Albee’s engaging--and sometimes disturbing--play about loneliness and human isolation. With the addition of the first act, <i>Zoo</i>, skillfully directed by Producing Artistic Director William Hayes, is essentially two different plays.
Like Samuel Beckett's <i>Waiting for Godot</i>, the precise meaning of Edward Albee's plays usually dance just a few inches out of discernable reach. But when expertly and incisively performed, such as Palm Beach Dramaworks' superb production of At Home at the Zoo, they guarantee hours of after-curtain discussion. The triumph of the production is the intense rehearsal work of director William Hayes and his cast, who excavated inscrutable dialogue for meanings embedded in the pauses among everyday speech and the feverish passions boiling under a placid surface. The subtleties they discovered and illuminate in <i>Homelife</i>, in particular, are as profound as those in <i>Virginia Woolf</i>.
Edward Albee was 31 in 1959 when his one-act, break-through drama <i>The Zoo Story</i> premiered. Forty-four years later, a far more mature Albee revisited the play, adding a first act that fleshes out <i>Zoo Story</i>'s Peter and sets the stage for the play's violent climax. Now titled At Home at the Zoo, the two-act play is being performed for the first time in Florida at Palm Beach Dramaworks in West Palm Beach. Under Producing Artistic Director William Hayes's masterful direction, the show builds in intensity line by line, until ripping your eyes away from the stage would be like failing to breathe.
In a world where many of us lead isolated lives, having a neighborly pub to retreat to would be a comfort. Such a pub is the setting of Conor McPherson's play The Weir. The bar's regular patrons have known each other a long time, probably all their lives. But the night when The Weir takes place is different.
Put a handful of Irishmen in a bar and they will soon be drinking and swapping lyrical tall tales. It is a fact of life and of the theater, as evidenced by Conor McPherson's simple, plotless, yet haunting collection of ghost stories, The Weir, which opened Friday evening in (a) . . .
On a rain-swept night, four lonely men are drinking whiskey and swapping stories in a rural Irish pub when in walks a mysterious outsider, a comely woman . . . <i>with a secret</i>.
Ask 50 people the meaning of Eugene Ionesco's The Chairs and odds are you'll get 50 different responses. But that's to be expected for a Theatre of the Absurd production. Those plays, after all, are known for their heightened reality, over-the-top comedy and, well, nonsensical dialogue that often leaves theatergoers - and actors - scratching their heads in confusion. J.
One word has been banned from the set of Palm Beach Dramaworks' production of The Chairs. That word is logic. Don't look for it in this landmark work by Eugene Ionesco, which opens Friday in West Palm Beach. Many aspects of the play are peculiar.
Eugene O'Neill, born in 1888 and dead by the end of 1953, carried around a lot of angst. He had an absentee father and a morphine-addicted mother. He drank too much and suffered from severe depression. He divorced his first two wives, and his third was hopelessly addicted to sedatives.
A Moon for the Misbegotten isn't only about Josie Hogan, a self-described lump of a woman who pretends to be a slut while concealing her virginity and her love for a hopeless man. But she's the one you'll care about at the end of Palm Beach Dramaworks' well-honed production of the Eugene O'Neill classic. Kati Brazda's seemingly spontaneous portrayal of Josie, who finds love and loses it in a single moonlit evening, sears itself in memory like a brand. William Hayes' firm direction grounds the show in naturalism, allowing the characters' motives and emotions to be exposed gradually.
There is the undeniable sound of pained - and painful - screeching coming from that tiny playhouse, though no feline has been sighted. Instead, it is the caterwauling of real-life Jazz Era society matron Florence Foster Jenkins, as re-created by a daffy, deliriously deluded Beth Dimon in the affectionate memory play, Souvenir. There is every reason. .
Palm Beach Dramaworks successfully has taken on the challenge of Souvenir, a 2005 Broadway comedy based on the true life of a woman who murdered music every time she sang, and did it often. The singing is certainly and boundlessly comic in Stephen Temperley's play, directed carefully by J. Barry Lewis and starring Elizabeth Dimon as the voice from hell. The company's designers have provided the two actors with rich surroundings.
. . . throughout Palm Beach Dramaworks' sweetly hilarious production of Stephen Temperley's play about the tone-deaf society maven who became an unlikely celebrity in New York during the 1930s and 1940s.
Most performers try to sing their best when they're on stage. That won't do when you're portraying the tone-deaf and rhythm-challenged Florence Foster Jenkins. According to one critic, she sounded like "a cuckoo in her cups. " But Jenkins "heard nothing but bravos," said J.
Man can build housing projects and engineer social change efficiently, if only he did not have to consider the consequences for the people affected. That is the way idealistic architect and liberal thinker David Kitzinger sees the world in Michael Frayn's Benefactors, a wry drama of good intentions gone astray, both in an urban redevelopment project and in human relationships. Frayn may be best-known for his knock-about backstage farce Noises Off, but one can see a similar intricate construction in this drama from the early 1980s. Although rarely revived, it transcends the political jabs at the Thatcher government when the play was new.
Nanique Gheridian doesn't get out enough. There are probably good reasons for this, being one of the big cheesettes at Palm Beach Dramaworks probably keeps her busy, but still. She's smart. She's seen what theater looks like in the companies forced to create good drama without her presence, and unless she suffers from hideously low self-esteem or an almost saint-like surplus of modesty, she must know how much she's needed out there.
Some really good shows have what appear to be thankless roles, even when done with the dramatic precision and pitiable lack of self-esteem that Nanique Gheridian brings to Sheila, the doormat of Michael Frayn's sardonic Benefactors. But make no mistake. While others have the showy, make-you-care jobs, Gheridian makes this important revival tick. .
Palm Beach Dramaworks' production of Agnes of God is not for the faint-hearted. Three women journey toward shipwreck in a tautly skippered production crewed by electrifying performers. Helmed by William Hayes, Dramaworks' production unfolds with a relentless forward momentum in which all the characters' defenses disintegrate. .
File John Pielmeier's 1982 Broadway hit Agnes of God under theological whodunits, a notably sparse corner of the theatrical shelf. Popular in its time, but largely neglected since then - Palm Beach Dramaworks' stated stock in trade - it is a drama rich in crisp debating points and a trio of showy roles, everything one could ask for except answers to the mysteries it poses. In many ways, Agnes of God is a close relative of Peter Shaffer's <i>Equus</i>, about another chain-smoking shrink who attempts to unlock the secrets of a troubled youth accused of a horrible crime. Pielmeier.
In a decade when people spout instant answers to every dilemma, Agnes of God doesn't try to answer anything. Palm Beach Dramaworks' thought-provoking production of John Pielmeier's 1982 play underscores the intrinsic value of questions even when the truth is unknowable. For two hours, science and religion square off over whether Agnes' pregnancy is a precious miracle during an age in which no one believes miracles still occur. Pielmeier's brilliance is to not answer the question with fast-food solutions, but to depict its complexity and the consequences of the potential answers.
Palm Beach Dramaworks' specialty is mounting plays it deems have been unjustly neglected. Eugene Ionesco's The Chairs is a classic of absurdist drama - a school that arose after World War II that emphasized the meaningless of life and the futility of human communication. Dramaworks' production features veteran performers Dan Leonard and Barbara Bradshaw in what's virtually a madcap duet with an invisible cast of thousands. Bradshaw delivers an incandescent performance as the adoring wife who nonetheless repeatedly reminds her husband that he hasn't amounted to much and unabashedly cuckolds him with one of the guests.
. . . the land of year-round tans is also home to a good-sized number of professional theater companies, several of which have outstanding reputations and two of which are currently putting on shows that couldn't be much eggheadier.
There are those who love the theatre and/or see theatre as very much a reflection of life. There are those who either are political junkies and/or are brave enough to actually criticize our government when it does asinine things. All of the above will find reason to rejoice in seeing The Fourth Wall by the much-honored American playwright A. R.
What if Shakespeare was right? What if all the world really is a stage? What if we're each trapped in our own little performance space, unable to break through and connect with the rest of the world? A.
. . . The Fourth Wall takes place in the nicely appointed Buffalo, N.
. . . Dramaworks' season-opening production centers on John and Nettie Cleary's worn-out marriage and the flicker of life that briefly returns to it when their son, Timmy, returns from serving in World War II.
It's so easy to take for granted the good work that Palm Beach Dramaworks does, finding a jewel of a play history has nearly forgotten about and then bringing it back to life in a searing, straightforward production. Such is the case with the West Palm Beach company's season opener: Frank D. Gilroy's Pulitzer Prize-winning mid-'60s drama The Subject Was Roses, directed with thoughtful clarity by Dramaworks Producing Artistic Director William Hayes and featuring a trio of confident, poised actors ready to mine its emotional depths. Gilroy's play has aged remarkably well, giving real shape and texture to the inner workings of a family.
Sondheim's virtues stand out in Palm Beach Dramaworks' spirited production of Side by Side by Sondheim. Performers Anna McNeely, Terrell Hardcastle, Cecilia Isis Torres and Craig Ames, who mans the piano, are up to the challenge. In a universally pleasing production, it's difficult to choose the greatest hits. Certainly, McNally's heart-wrenching rendition of Send in the Clowns, Sondheim's most performed tune, is one.
Whenever a dinosaur of a production like Side by Side by Sondheim bumps its way across a stage, all who see it are forced to make a decision. Should they judge it on its charms -- on its music, its singing, its fun factor? Or should they judge it on its cynicism -- on the implied subtext that its audiences are neither interested in dealing nor equipped to deal with new work? Or, for that matter, with any production that might demand thinking or evaluation or response?
. . . the glossy revue mounted at Palm Beach Dramaworks.
. . . the stylish show on view this summer at Palm Beach Dramaworks is notable for its simplicity, its accessibility and its entertainment quotient.
Few people know how to tell a good story. But playwright John Olive does, and through him, so does Davey Quinn, the raconteur whose tales drive The Voice of the Prairie. Guided by director William Hayes, Palm Beach Dramaworks' production capitalizes on the richness of the storytelling tradition in a warm-hearted Huckleberry Finn-like tale set during the early days of radio. Todd Allen Durkin, Gordon McConnell and Nanique Gheridian play all the characters in the production — and there are a good many.
"The Voice of the Prairie is almost certainly the strongest offering from Palm Beach Dramaworks this season, and that's saying a lot. Though it's been a favorite of the nation's regional theaters for going on 20 years, John Olive's Voice has never had the arty cachet of Harold Pinter's Betrayal or been recognized for the kind of world-historic commentary dripping from every moment of Arthur Miller's The Price — two other recent PBD productions. . .
Palm Beach Dramaworks loves to revive the classics -- what other South Florida company would do Arthur Miller, Harold Pinter and Stephen Sondheim in one season? Their current offering, John Olive's Voice of the Prairie, may not be as well known, but it fits in with the artistic standards of the much-lauded theater. McConnell remains one of the most interesting actors around, fascinating in both dialogue and silence. Here he convincingly plays five characters, changing from a charming storyteller to an abusive father with breakneck speed.
"Palm Beach Dramaworks' stunning production of Harold Pinter's Betrayal makes clear why Pinter was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005. " "The show is impeccably directed by J. Barry Lewis, who ensures that no scene is overplayed and every unspoken nuance is communicated. And there are plenty of nuances in this play.
Palm Beach Dramaworks gets a solid workout from a small ensemble for its disquieting revival of Betrayal, the backward-told tale of marital infidelity. . . .
Over the course of nine brief scenes, Harold Pinter's Betrayal moves backward — and occasionally forward — in time, tracing a non-linear path of nine years from the awkward endgame of an illicit affair to its brash, passionate beginning. While this anti-chronological progression would seem to confuse matters, in fact Betrayal is one of the Nobel literature laureate's more accessible and concrete plays. By going backward, it avoids the downbeat ending of lovers Jerry and Emma, awkwardly, painfully sifting through their past together. That is the play's first scene, leading to a series of deceits and discoveries, lies and betrayals, before concluding with the first blush of infidelity, as Jerry makes a drunken pass at Emma at a cocktail party.
<i>Trying</i> is a sweet, small play that won't set the world on fire, but may touch hearts. Joanna Glass' autobiographical play about her eight months as Judge Francis Biddle's personal secretary is getting a kindly production at Palm Beach Dramaworks in West Palm Beach. There's a lot of gentle humor in the play, principally from Biddle, who is still sharp enough to turn a clever phrase, and Glass' tactful depiction of failing powers. Peter Haig's portrayal of the prickly aristocrat is light-handed and communicates the self-awareness that makes Biddle lovable, despite his rudeness and nit-picking about the proper use of language and details of office etiquette.
"Glass might well have written a one-man show that had Biddle recount his governmental achievements. Instead, she concentrates on the personal side of the man. . .
"Already performed by senior luminaries Fritz Weaver and James Whitmore, the role of Biddle in Glass' briskly poetic narrative is captured by South Florida veteran Peter Haig in the regional premiere at Palm Beach Dramaworks. " "Haig always plays irascibility with flair, but digs for the humanity and compassion beneath the crust. He makes it clear from the beginning that this barking duffer's beef is with mortality, not the woman behind the steno pad. That is Christine Carroll in a nearly beatific performance as Sarah Schorr, the latest in a long line of the judge's short-term executive assistants.
. . . Palm Beach Dramaworks deserves a standing ovation for its superb production of The Price and for programming a difficult, but undeniably classic, play.
. . . The central and most heart-wrenching tragedy of the production is the persistent ache that pervades Victor and Esther’s marriage.
. . . The Price manages considerable theatrical impact and eloquence, even as it grows into a static debate of values, choices made and long-held resentments.
There's no doubt that into every marriage creeps, or perhaps floods, moments that inspire you to dream of snuff films with your mate in a starring role. But to truly consider following through? Well, that's another matter, as well as the plot for Michele Lowe's 2002 dark comedy The Smell of the Kill, which opened last week at Palm Beach Dramaworks. .
As The Smell of the Kill opens in a suburban kitchen, three long-suffering women are cleaning up after their monthly dinner while their Neanderthal husbands frolic in the living room. Between trading barbs, they realize their emotionally abusive spouses have accidentally locked themselves in a basement meat locker and could freeze to death. After a few moments of frenzied searching for a key, the flurry slows and a delicious glimmer of opportunity begins to gleam in their eyes. Now these are some really desperate housewives.
Thank God — a new play about Catholic priests that mentions neither pope nor pedophilia. South Florida Everyman playwright/actor Michael McKeever's production is about miracles, which might raise eyebrows. Plays about miracles can veer into theological, epistemological debate and result in a wholly intellectual play that puts the matinee crowd to sleep; they can take on a mystical sensibility, which could be as annoying as a novel about the Rapture;
"George and Martha. Sad, sad, sad. " For lovers of the Woolf, those six little words will induce Pavlovian joy. Such a cruel play.
Even in its recently revised, slightly truncated form, Edward Albee's epic drama of self-deception, gamesmanship and whiskey-soaked truth-telling, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? , is an emotional 3 1/4-hour marathon. But as Palm Beach Dramaworks well knows, there are few plays written in the 20th century that are as riveting and rewarding, particularly when performed by the first-rate cast that director William Hayes has assembled. Understandably, George and Martha are towering assignments that require enormous stamina and skill.
Palm Beach Dramaworks has been nominated for 16 of this year's Carbonell Awards, South Florida's theater honors. . . However, Palm Beach Dramaworks should really be up for 17 trophies, if the Carbonell plenipotentiaries actually gave out an eco-friendly "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" award.
Palm Beach Dramaworks, which is giving the play a whiskey-soaked, high-testosterone production, directed with a brawny hand by J. Barry Lewis, has found another worthy script that is infrequently revived. . .
One of the strongest impressions left by Palm Beach Dramaworks' production of <i>Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill. . . </i> is how versatile a composer Weill was.
Theaters in South Florida often resort to musical revues in the summertime to provide audiences with light escapist entertainment and the heat. And then there is Palm Beach Dramaworks, which won its first Carbonell Awards with a forceful retrospective of <i>Jacques Brel's</i> melancholy, antiromantic and antiwar songs last summer. The company now demonstrates that production was no fluke with a similarly hard-edged amble through the career of composer Kurt Weill, <i>from Berlin to Broadway</i>. Dramaworks wisely brings back director J.
Fourth of July at the beach house willed to Sally by her younger brother, David, recently dead from AIDS. Sam's sister Chloe and her husband John (Angie Radosh and Gordon McConnell) are along for the ride. All four of the troubled weekenders sputter and fight, offering revelatory asides about their secret desires. The Dramaworks production is meticulous with a set showing the back of a weathered beach house and lighting that often dramatizes the couples' confessional asides.
The circumstances surrounding the conjunction of John; his wife, Chloe; Chloe's brother, Sam; and Sam's wife, Sally, coun't be less promising.
Human fralities take the place of heroism, meriting compassion and forgiveness -- not least when dealing with marriage. Such observations lie at the marrow of Terrance McNally's slow Chekhovian exploration of the difficulty, perhaps the impossibility, of maintaining a relationship without secrets, reservations or concessions. For everyone has something to conceal among the two couples celebrating the Fourth of July at a Fire Island beachhouse. Gordon McConnell as the overbearing John and Oscar Cheda as the woebegone Sam are both excellent.
If Terrance McNally's play Lips Together, Teeth Apart were on film, video store staffers would be stumped to figure out whether to shelve it under 'Comedy' or Drama'. At the increasingly reliable Palm Beach Dramaworks, which is currently presenting an assured, well-acted production of this fragile script, the one-liners, pop culture references and fragments of Broadway musicals are all entertaining enough, But what makes the play memorable is the sense of melancholy that hovers over the evening. Director Nanique Gheridian stages the play with a minimum of action, yet the evening never feels static. He (McNally) understands the importance of keeping an audience entertained and Palm Beach Dramaworks shows that it does too.
Seascape, lacks none of Albee's incive observation and wit. Nevertheless, the play, for which Albee won a Pulitzer Prize in 1975 carries a message that's almost upbeat. It exhorts its audience to seize the day, even if you're in the sunset of your life. Dramaworks cast delivers such carefully crafted lines with admirable naturalness.
The play, an extraordinary blend of light humor and philosophical profundity, features only four characters - an older couple entering their allegedly golden years and a younger couple of talking lizards embarking on their own journey. It's not nearly as weird as it sounds. It's about evolution, or more simply, the inevitablity of change, as both couples struggle with what their futures hold. .
It is hard to fathom the surprise that Edward Albee would write about a pair of lizards who come out the ocean to chat with humans. Although Seascape is surely an allegory of some sort, Palm Beach Dramaworks goes to great lengths to convince us that those scaly creatures onstage, albeit oversized and verbal, are actual lizards. As impersonated by Michael McKeever and Margery Low and costumed by Erin Amico, the effect is hard to argue with. Director William Hayes sets a positively zoological tone, encouraging McKeever and Lowe to replicate reptile moves, often with eerie accuracy.
Seascape won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975, a testament to the show's weighty social and literary themes. But it's Edward Albee's uncharacteristic playfulness that still appeals three decades later, in a cheeky revival by the Palm Beach Dramaworks. Michael McKeever and Margery Lowe are hidden beneath amazingly convincing makeup and costumes by Erin Amico. It's been 20 years since Seascape 's only other professional regional appearance in South Florida.
Palm Beach Dramaworks' production of The Boys Next Door is a fascinating glimpse of a segment of society that's too often ignored, the mentally disabled. It's also funny, without being condescending. Thanks to a strong cast and playwright Tom Griffin's revealing details, the mentally challenged characters have distinct personalities and are deeply human. J.
Palm Beach Dramaworks is celebrating the mentally impaired in their stellar production of The Boys Next Door. Tom Griffin’s script about 4 young men trying to get through life with handicaps gives off a resonance that the more coherent should understand: all people, despite their shortcomings, are still created equal. Coming off an acclaimed production of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, guest director J. Barry Lewis has assigned talent who are not only capable of handling Griffin’s opus, but who breathe a new excitement into the work.
The Boys Next Door is a heartwarming look at the lives of four mentally challenged men who live together. The actors brilliantly depict four unique, charming, and quirky personalities. The players make the most of the space, using the aisles as entrances as they reveal the heartbreak and the hilarity that encompass their lives together. Author Tom Griffin has crafted this play skillfully, allowing the audience the liberty to laugh at the situation while gaining respect for a diverse and often misunderstood group.
While The Boys Next Door contains a message and moments of affecting drama, the show at Palm Beach Dramaworks is foremost a comedy. It's a testament to director J. Barry Lewis, his cast and Tom Griffin's script that none of the copious laughs comes at the men's expense. .
It would be hard not to become emotionally involved with the plight of the four developmentally disabled child-men who live in a group apartment in Tom Griffin's message-laden social comedy, The Boys Next Door. . . .
Palm Beach Dramaworks is presenting their own rendition of 'night, Mother, coinciding with the Broadway revival. Veteran player Barbara Bradshaw and Dramaworks' managing chief Nanique Gheridian prove once again that we don't have to travel the road north when we have excellent performances right here in our own backyard. 'night, Mother is a play full of tactics and beats. Those fall mostly on the shoulders of the actor who plays Thelma, as she tries to convince her daughter not to take her life.
The situation portrayed in 'night, Mother is a parent's nightmare. Jessie, the adult daughter of Thelma announces cooly that she plans to commit suicide that evening in the home she shares with her mother. Barbara Bradshaw's harrowing performance as Thelma anchors the production. Frumpy, limited, self-absorbed Thelma rises to the occasion to fight off her daughter's resolve with every weapon she possesses - reason, anger, tears.
. . . Actresses Barbara Bradshaw and Nanique Gheridan, under William Hayes' direction, have crafted a fifth season opener that shatters the soul.
. . . the play is about to have its first Broadway revival later this week.
Norman 's 1983 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama is back on Broadway this season, with the revival starring The Sopranos' Edie Falco as Jessie and British actor Brenda Blethyn as Thelma scheduled to open on Sunday. But you don't have to fly to Manhattan to experience its rich, sobering power. Palm Beach Dramaworks, the ambitious 3-year-old company that took home a trio of Carbonell Awards Monday, is opening its season with a strong production of 'night, Mother in its 84-seat downtown West Palm Beach space. .
Everyone knows a couple like John and Nettie Cleary. Married for decades, it's a mystery what brought them together, what keeps them together and how two people so far apart could have ever been close. The Cleary marriage is the centerpiece of Frank D. Gilroy's 1964 play The Subject Was Roses, currently receiving a handsome production at Palm Beach Dramaworks.
You know the name and you probably recognize the voice, but do you know the story of the gardenia-sporting star behind the microphone? Born in 1915, Billie Holiday came to personify jazz music in the mid-twentieth century. . .Read the full review
The American theater scene in the twentieth century was dominated by hard-hitting, expertly written family dramas. . . American playwrights have long been obsessed with the family unit as a whole and with debunking the ideal of the American dream.Read the full review