Saturday, April 30, 2016

THEATRE ROW: The Lion Theatre, Inc. New York; Presents BILL BOWERS in ALL OVER THE MAP: Written by Bill Bowers and directed by MARTHA BANTA

                                             THE LION THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS...
                                                         410 West 42nd street 9th Avenue
                                                               New York City, New York

                                                    BILL BOWERS'

Bill Bowers is a VETERAN ACTOR who has appeared in numerous FIRST CLASS PRODUCTIONS which include; Zazu in The Lion King, and Leggett in The Scarlet Pimpernel (including his own written works which he has performed in off-Broadway venues).

                                                                       (Bill Bowers)
I have to tell you; to do a ONE MAN SHOW is quite a feat. I always admire those actors who can PULL IT OFF! It is not an easy venture to do. You have to be a particular type of PERSONALITY and POSSESS a tough and CONSUMING EGO! Not in the sense of NARCISSISM, but in the sense of KNOWING WHO YOU ARE as an individual at CORE LEVELS.

The PSYCHOLOGICAL FORTITUDE has to be well INTACT so as to not allow a FRACTURE of the EGO, which could lead to a DISSOLUTION OF SELF (which can lead to a "host" of problems down the road...)

Bill Bowers is a MIME ACTOR (a skill in and of itself!), who performs ALL OVER THE WORLD, and throughout the UNITED STATES.

Mr. Bowers, whether he REALIZES it  or NOT, is doing the COLLECTIVE a huge favor by revealing to us the differences and nuances of HUMAN NATURE throughout his TRAVELS, and "living" (if only for a moment in "time and place") all secular aspects of the HUMAN EXPERIENCE.

He performs for the the RICH, the POOR, the DISADVANTAGED: races, cultures and ALL IN BETWEEN, bestowing the GIFT of himself, as well as RECEIVING "gifts" from those he comes into contact (no doubt ENRICHING HIS SPIRIT).

This is why he can SMILE or LAUGH (in the picture above) and you can see the "DIVINE CHILD" within...(the "seat" of his creativity)

A PERSONALITY OF THIS TYPE is capable of GREAT HEALING (for all who come into contact with this individual).

                                 (not reflective of this performance: no authentic pictures available)

THE PERFORMANCE at the LION THEATRE was a composite of all his travels and the STRANGE and UNUSUAL experiences he has encountered throughout his travels both abroad and within the United States.

He shows us various "sketches" and "simulations" of the experiences he has encountered; acting them out and truly giving us an entertaining account, not only of his "own take" on the experience, but also how it has impacted that environment (if only for a moment in time). No doubt, the stories were authentically "real" (supposing that we "buy into" the enthusiasm of the "moment").

Most ONE MAN (or woman) SHOWS are carefully CONTRIVED and FORMULATED (after all, you don't want to lose your shirt!).

Thanks, no doubt, to the DIRECTOR. Mrs, Banta certainly provided the SCAFFOLDING in which Mr. Bowers was able to "build the story".

The SET comprised of only SIX CHAIRS-that's it! And this brilliant actor managed to keep us ENTERTAINED and FOCUSED on the PREMISE of these "experiences"through the SIMULATION of props and scenery through the agency of these six chairs.

                 (not the actual chair used for this production; no authentic pictures were available)

The AUDIENCE could not get ENOUGH from this fantastic performer. His energy was CONSTANT, not missing a BEAT (in performance nor in stamina). Everybody laughed and cheered and applauded with such endearment and familiarity that he felt like he was your uncle or brother.

Besides the actual PERFORMANCE, we did get a sense from the actor (because, after all, these "encounters" and travels fostered real, human experiences which, no doubt, have a UNIVERSAL APPEAL), that he was  "affected" and "impacted" by these experiences. There was much sentiment and "reflective humor", which comes from having gone through the "hard knots" of life (whether real or imagined). At the very least, you got a sense of "empathy" and a "rising compassion" of what this actor experienced.

      (these pictures of Mr. Bowers does not reflect this performance; no authentic pictures available)

I LOVE performances in which there's LEANING (to me,this is the PURPOSE of theatre; to bring us, as a humanity, CLOSER TO GOD;by exalting the WORKS of MAN).

Special thanks to Ed McCarthy, for his GENIUS in the LIGHTING DESIGN.

This ONE MAN SHOW gets 3 1/2 STARS!

Monday, April 25, 2016

THEATRE ROW: Wellington Road, LLC: Presents "IN THE SECRET SEA" written by CATE RYAN and directed by MARTIN CHARNIN

                                                       IN THE SECRET 
                                A new American Play
                                                                    CATE RYAN
                                                                   and directed by
                                                              MARTIN CHARNIN
                               Kenny (Adam Petherbridge) the son of the Osborne
The story unfolds quite systemically with Gil (Paul Carlin) and his wife, Joyce (Glynnis O'conor) coming home after church in a rather humorous mood concerning Joyce's "fondness" for the Priest at their local parish. And, according to Gil, she wants to "get with him", teasing her, of course. And in turn, Joyce is just having fun, and being a woman.

Just because one is married doesn't mean one cannot enjoy the "sight" of another "candy" (being man or woman) once in a while...

But this type of "FAMILIARITY" speaks on a deeper level than what's apparent "on the surface". It suggests STRENGTH and deep TRUST. Not only is this couple a "marriage", they are "friends" to each other; although we get the "impression" right away, that Joyce, Gil's wife, is in her own bubble of REALITY, super imposed by an even larger BUBBLE-that of SOCIETY (and its inherent "expectations").

                                           Joyce (Glynnis O'connor) and Gil (Paul Carlin)

   Keeping up the APPEARANCE OF PERFECTION can be "exhausting" (this is an Irish Family, and thank GOD for that alcohol! And in this play, trust me, it was needed!)


The appearance of perfection and order, through RIGHTFUL ACTION(even if it means playing a simulated ROLE), becomes the PURPOSE FOR LIVING among couples which choose to live in an INSULATED REALITY (or commonly referred to as a "bubble").

We get the impression that Gil, past his fifties, is still searching for "something" (not to mention,that even in his late fifties, he is still quite sexually "potent" and in constant "need").

                                             Gil (Paul Carlin) and Joyce (Glynnis O'Connor)

Gil doesn't feel a connection to his wife because she is EVASIVE and ELUSIVE and cannot be PINNED DOWN to an HONEST opinion on anything. An  "irritation" which is constantly expressed throughout the production. You feel "empathy' for him; since Joyce has DECIDED to interact with her husband. as well as SOCIETY as a TWO DIMENSIONAL HUMAN BEING.

Unfortunately, we don't get a clear PREMISE from the playwright as to why she is so socially "inept". Growing up in upper class Connecticut does lend some "truth" to the fact that people insulated by wealth lose "proximity" to their lives  in quite insidious ways (which, later, creeps up without warning-on the children!).

Gil complaints, banters, and carries on like a child without a lollipop. But then again, Joyce is so passive-aggressive and uses much semantics in her language, that it's impossible to get a straight answer from her,

The heart of Gil's "malcontent" is the feeling of estrangement from a wife who doesn't offer sex to an Irish man in his late sixties who is very much still "virile and capable", sexually. Number one; then, there's the issue of why they didn't have another baby; number two (and what brought that on was that fact that being with his wife, alone, after their son grew up and left the house, didn't offer, apparently, much solace or comfort to carry him towards his twilight years). Number three, of course, not being HEARD or UNDERSTOOD, and his needs going IGNORED.

Fear, seems to be motivating Mr. Osborne to "cling" on to something that may have never been there in the first place (the love is not "felt", but "simulated").

If children was one's INVESTMENT in a marriage, once that "investment" walks out that door, as an adult, and never to return, how does one re-invent one's SELF? The marriage? The "intimacy"?

                                           Audrey (Shelly Burch) Jack (Malachy Cleary)

 Wealth is a wonderful thing, and in the 80's, Fairfield County, Connecticut (really beginning from the 40's to the height of the 80's, to be exact) was considered to be one of, if not THE WEALTHIEST county (besides Alpine California, and 50 townships in New Jersey; such as Franklin Lakes, Montville and so on) in all of the United States ("circumstances" have changed, since then).

To be wealthy and live in Connecticut, (especially as a "new wealthy individual") was the cornerstone of SOCIAL SUCCESS (on every level of the social strata). The state did not have an INCOME TAX, or PROPERTY TAX, which allowed the NEW WEALTHY to keep most of their money and assets. This is no longer the case in that state. However, this play SPEAKS TO THAT ERA in which such an antithetical living, especially during the Reagan Years, encouraged living in this IVORY TOWER  "existence" in which people were encouraged to live in their own "reality" or "bubble".

Hey, there's nothing wrong with that, until TRAGEDY strikes...

Audrey(Shelly Burch) and Jack's (Paul Carlin) daughter has married Kenny (Adam Petherbridge); the son of the Osbornes.  It's Easter Sunday and the Osbornes envited Kenny's wife's parents.

Kenny and his new wife are expecting a baby, but there's a HORRIFYING SECRET which eventually, after plenty of drinks, the secret's out.

Everyone "knows" that there's something horribly and terribly WRONG with the baby...

Or is it a baby....?

This second couple has lost a son of their own before; will the nightmare repeat itself...?

     Audrey (Shelly Burch) Jack (Malachy Cleary) Gil (Paul Carlin) Joyce (Glynnis O'connor)

It has been "postulated" by social scientists that those born into wealth or acquire it later, in either case, are not quite "equipped" in handling mundane matters-let alone a crisis (at the magnitude these poor folks are facing)

And yet this is exactly what these two couples are experiencing-a test...

The acting was EXPLOSIVE, DRAMATIC (but not melodramatic). You were kept at the edge of your seat!

Although the INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY was weak in originality and "substance", the director, Martin Charnin, managed to keep us interested and invested in the characters by formulating an ensemble of actors that really "brought it home" through a most POWERFUL PERFORMANCE.

The audience LOVED IT! When the performance was over I went out to dinner with my guest, and we met several audience participants who sat with us and (a total of eight!) discussed the play in depth. We all concluded, that the ACTING, the DIRECTING, and the SET DESIGN, was what made this production (75.00 per ticket!), WORTH the PRICE!

Special thanks to Deborah Brown for casting such a talented group of actors for this performance.

Beowulf Borrit, and Alexis Distler did a FABULOUS job with the SET DESIGN (giving it a real Connecticut, New England "feel". It felt like you were in the town of Darien-nice!).

This PRODUCTION receives 2 1/2 stars...

Monday, March 28, 2016

PLAYWRIGHTS HORIZON'S FAMILIAR: Written by Danai Gurira and directed by Rebecca Taichman


                                         (Harold Surratt/Tamara Tunie/Rosylin Ruff)

 PLAWRIGHT'S HORIZONS located on 416 West 42nd Street (between 9th adn 10th Ave), New York City, New York, presents, for its running season, the play FAMILIAR.

Although booking dates and special performances (according to Playwrights Horizon's vary. The performance was made available to the public February 12th, and is currently running until March 27th BUT HAS BEEN EXTENDED UNTIL APRIL 7TH (to be sure, however, check their website).

FAMILIAR is a very typically universal story which encapsulates several themes critical to the "human condition" and structural fabric of society.

The FIRST THEME is that of social adjustment to a new cultural environment which is foreign to the nativity and his or her family (provided that the said condition is that of migration from one country to another, as current adults).

The SECOND THEME is to, not only relate to the predominant culture of the land, but also, the "Pop Culture"(which involves the 'youth').

So we have two separate dichotomies which could be congruent to each other, or antagonistic. In this particular case, it happens to be congruent; although it appears to be in opposition (but this "illusion", thanks, in part, to the director, was excellently "pulled off").

The THIRD THEME deals with the "clashes of tradition" in reference to spirituality (which was "hinted at", but never fully explored-in dialogue: this was genius on the part of the director). Spirituality concerning two cultures stemming from two separate continents, is quite a task to bring into "balance".

The African Spiritual "Basin" is based on ANCESTRAL TRADITION (when alive) and WORSHIP (once they're "gone"). Whereas the AMERICAN-BASED spirituality is basically "non-existent", only "philosophy of RELIGION, and "CONCEPTUAL" philosophy as referred to "ritual and ceremony" (as is very protestant in the WESTERN CULTURE) of attending church every Sunday as a "ritual", one day out of the week.`

But this is not so, in the AFRICAN-BASED spiritual TRADITION. EVERYDAY is SACRED. Everything in LIFE and in NATURE is significant. The ELDERS hold on to this belief with great reverence.

The director did very well  in not overwhelming the audience with too much "elements" which may lend to confusing the "issue" in which this family had to deal with. It was very well balanced-in "thematics". Zimbabwe has a unique HISTORY which should be told WITHOUT DISCRIMINATION OF FACTS.

The FOURTH THEME deals with issues affecting FIRST GENERATION AMERICANS (those born in the United States, but came from parents which came from another nativity).This fourth theme is the "essence" of this play; for it is the PLATFORM in which the story unfolds (you can diagram it as a pyramid in which the apex is the first Generation-Americans, Ancestral and African tradition on the "right leg" of the base of the pyramid, and the current socio-political stance of the "New Culture" on the "left leg" of the pyramid).
                    (Melanie Nichols King/Myra Lucretia Taylor/Tamara Tunie/Rosely Ruff)

EVERYTHING RESTS, as far as cultural and traditional "continuity" is concerned, on the First-Generation of this Zimbobwean Family.

A "sub-theme" which was only "hinted at", relates to the specificity of an African MIGRATED FAMILY, with a first-generation of young adults adapting or adopting to the LIFESTYLE and sub-culture of the MID-WESTERN STATES (a dichotomy in and of itself!).

Then there's the "SECRET" (what family structure exists in the collective of humanity WITHOUT THIS ELEMENT as part of the "human story"?)

                                         (Joby Earle/Joe Tippette/Myra Lucretia Taylor)

The "LIES", the "BETRAYAL" and all the other elements which defines a "good story", "good t.v", or "GREAT THEATER".

FLIRTATIOUS INTERPLAY between Nyasha (played by actress Ito Aghayere) and coyish "guy-friend" Brad (played by actor Joe Tippett) was instrumental on the part of the director, Rebecca Taichman.

It diffuses the "atmospheric tension" which, such a complex story can generate. It kept the story from become too melodramatic, as issues concerning RACE, CLASHES OF CULTURE, and DIFFERENCES OF INDIVIDUAL "PHILOSOPHIES" are apt to create; for both CAST and AUDIENCES alike, "uncomfortable moments".

But this is good! Theater is suppose to "educate" but also, provoke (thought). And this play accomplishes BOTH.

This segment of the play was a good BUFFER...

The AUDIENCE really "delighted" in the character antics of Brad (Joe Tippette). He was funny in action, comical in text, and totally embodying the typical MID to SOUTHWESTERN "jock" type of guy. You could "feel" the character's sincerity. The actor's comedic timing was ON  POINT!

                                         (Melanie Nichols King/Joby Earle/ Rosylin Ruff)

Tendi (played by actress Rosylin Ruff) and her fiance Chris (played by actor Joby Earle) display boyfriend/girlfriend dynamic which was very REALISTIC with the "rite of passage" which is typically universal concerning "the rules of engagement" of young people (despite being an interracial couple) at the height of "self-discovery".

It was a "welcomed change" not to deal with the DIFFERENCES which RACE RELATIONS seem to generate. Perhaps finally, humanity is TRANSCENDING this SOCIAL BLOCK to HUMAN PROGRESS and EVOLUTION.

I truly enjoyed their story...

Then there's the TRIAD between Marvelous (played by actress Tamara Tunie); her husband Donald (played by actor Harold Surratt). And the ANCESTRAL MOTHER (played by actress Myra Lucretia Taylor).

It is the typical POWER STRUGGLE between WOMEN of two distinct generations; and then there's the ESTRANGEMENT OF THE MARRIAGE itself between Marvelous and Donald.

                                             (Ito Aghayere/ Melanie Nichols King)

And then we have Margaret (played by actress Melanie Nichols King; in floral dress) who, in her supportive role, exudes an "AURA" of quiet DIGNITY and GRACE, a "cohesion" which brings "relationships" together. (which, in these days of theater, is an ART that is, I believe, FOREVER LOST to the NEW STUDENT OF stage acting). Her professional stage "etiquette" did not go unnoticed...

Her smile assures you that everything will be alright. And everything did turn out just fine.

REBECCA TAICHMAN created a wonderful BLEND of homogenized stories which INTERRELATED to each other and BUILD on each other. Excellent job!!!

PLAYWRIGHT Diana Gurira is so HUMBLE and "self-effacing" in her comment: " I always vowed I would never write a  play inspired by my family..."


I'm glad she BROKE THAT VOW!!!

As a FIRST GENERATION DOMINICAN-AMERICAN, I relate completely with this story.
Mrs. Gurira, I don't think even "YOU", realize what great work you've DONE!


Special thanks and honorable mention to SET DESIGN AND LIGHTING as well as SOUND AND STAGE MANAGING (unfortunately their credits were not available; we apologize)


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

SOWA'S RED GRAVY Written by Diane Richards and Directed by Woodie King

SOWA'S RED GRAVY by the New Federal Theater in association with the Castillo Theater  at Theater Row in downtown Manhattan, New York, left me STUNNED! SHOCKED!  and AGHAST!

I do not understand what Woody King Jr. was trying to "tell us". Woody King Jr's credits are indeed, extensive and impressive. An "icon" to the Black Community and the Black Theater in particular.

UNFORTUNATELY, this was not one of his best productions. I can't even begin to decode the storyline.

It seems that the playwright (Diane Richards) based her "premise" on some book compilation of "sketches" (so I've been informed) and threw together something of a "story".

In reviewing the article by the NEW YORK TIMES, it seems that they saw one performance, while I saw another (and this one was not at all New York Times "caliber" review). I don't know what the reporter's angle was? (whom I tried to locate at the New York Times)

The Subject of Vudum is one that I know quite well (both as a student of Cultural Anthropology  AND as an " initiate" practitioner).

And, although evil and witchcraft is, indeed quite REAL, and a WAY OF LIFE in some cultures, the RELIGION is hardly "demonic".

NOT ONE POSITIVE aspect of the religion was mentioned; its history, nor its origins: certainly it must not have been in the playwright's INTEREST to "educate" her audience to its rich, beautiful, and FUNCTIONAL HERITAGE; which is common in all aspect of African, Haitian, and New Orlean's way of life (a vital and central fabric of SURVIVAL for these cultures-which deserves mentioning. It would have provided a BALANCE which would have further the playwright's premise in a more compelling fashion).

Of course, this is not to infer that the playwright meant any harm by omitting the religion's "virtues" (or maybe, she, like many Westerners) don't believe that there is any redeeming qualities to be mentioned?

It was embarrassing and quite "painful" to watch such talented and gifted actors put forth such energy for...this???

It looked like a circus act!

I "watched" the audience and, although there were some funny, and critical moments (in which the audience responded to), they were, for the most part, quite "blanched". Some audience members played with their phones, others SLEPT (even I, took a "snooze" for a New York Minute!), and still others carried on conversations with each other (probably wondering when it will end!). Others, at the end of the show, complained that it was "too long" (about nothin'!).

The ensemble cast was excellent, no one actor was better than another. It was a team effort (and boy was it ever!)

But there's always one actor or two that stands out. Actor GARY E. VINCENT was quite spectacular and definitely should be considered for an AUDELCO AWARD.

Also, Iris Wilson was absolutely "magical" in every way! Her "subtle" energy and enigmatic "physical beauty" kept many audiences (especially the opposite sex) interested and "plugged in". She moved with grace, style, and acute power!

Special thanks to John Scheffler for his excellent set design and Antoinette Tynes for her work as lighting designer. These two talented "technical artists" have created an atmosphere that fits very well with the "sketches"presented.

Honorable mention to Lawrence Evans for selecting such an ensemble cast.

UNFORTUNATELY, as talented as the actors and technical staff were, in theatre, the director and the playwright's intellectual property must "deliver the goods".

And I don't professionally believe this was the case in this production and I have to give it HALF A STAR (a "{dying" star...)

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Directed by

Sarah M. Chichester

Adopted by 

E.P. Coleridge

Trojan Women Presented by the American Theatre of Actors was a classical presentation from an old epic which was a classical favorite for most of us growing up in school "The Trojan War".

I remember in school the "point of view" of the women (both in the story and in the classroom), was never discussed nor was there any reference made to the woman's point of view. In this respect. This production is very welcoming and progressive.It is interesting that the play "Lysistrata" was very heavily discussed and given its "place" both in History and in Literature. Of course, Sex and Women go hand in hand (in the classical world), but women and politics don't seem to go "hand in hand" in ANY AGE!

Women are far more capable politically than men ever could aspire to be; greed and ego usually gets in the "way" when it comes to men. But women, married or single, with children or without, either happy or unhappy,will still unite and together defeat or edify a nation. 

This is the situation in Mrs. Chichester's "Trojan Women". With the "turning point" or "culmination" of the war, the women are in conflict towards engaging in rightful action or "lying in wait". All the while the country is falling apart and, when they do finally decide to action,tragedy strikes, and the country folds.

This was a very cosmetic production, definitely in keeping with the classical beauty of speech, dialect and body language.

Although slightly mechanical and robotic, I would have loved to have seen more emotional exposition among the actors. Yes, they were honest and true to their characters. A concentrated effort was seen in keeping the classical "tempo" of the piece, which was successfully carried out. But the emotion just seemed too simulated for me, rather than genuinely felt.It sounded more like a recital than a performance-but still entertaining! I was surprised at myself for enjoying it!

Even among the most "seasoned" of actors, classical pieces, because of the language of the classical period, and emphasis on enunciation and dialect, emotional exposition is difficult. I mean, let's face it. It's down right hard, otherwise everybody would doing classical theatre

So I give the actors credit because it was a good production (if you're into classical theatre-and not everybody "digs" the classics, especially with the younger audiences)

Honorable mention goes to Actress Lisa Marie Alberty (Chorus) who, among the cast, was the most emphatic and whose emotional exposition was excellent and believable (rather than simulated)

Also, Actress Camilla Skoglie, although more mechanical in her delivery and the emotions simulated,remained true to "method", making her performance well above average. A true professional who gave a memorable performance as Hecuba, the matriarch.

Among the men, Fernando Gamarra possesses a striking "presence" which embodies the "opposing force" of Nature (as Poseidon,the God of the Seas), but also, as the "opposing force" as the plutonian politician (and much feared) Menelaus, King of Priam. Excellent performance.   

This performance receives 3 OF 5 STARS!

Thursday, August 16, 2012


The comedy of the week goes to "The stay at home dad series", Directed by Adam Jones, Written by Brandon Williams and Adam Jones, Produced by Trevor Herrick and Edited by Dave Bradley.

It has all the elements of a feature film or National film. The opening trailer and their main poster screen is a winning "trophy" for a series of its kind.

Adam Jones understands the basic elements of comedy. And we see this signature in every episode. We  will  provide five examples;

EPISODE#1: "eat my meat"
politically incorrect/ inappropriateness in speech/ element of surprise

EPISODE#2: "Just say no"
political incorrectness/ inappropriate setting

EPISODE#3: "who's afraid of prostate"
inappropriate conversation/ inappropriate setting

EPISODE#4: "Bridges"
cultural insensitivity/ opposite sex

EPISODE#5: "The boy who wore a rainbow hat"
Gender/sex orientation/ inappropriate setting

This Web series has over a 100 episodes and is a comedy writer's HEAVEN for material. I love this guy!
All episodes have a comedic formula premise which can be a field bed for professional writers, poets, and film directors alike. I give his series FIVE STARS!



FAULTLINES,Curtesy of Shorts Nonstop Productions, Inc.

Fault lines  centers on the breech of the family structure. The family unit. And a man in his middle years is driven by madness, leading to violence,and possibly murder? This is a very intense short series, but boy! It is very intense, primal even.

But what made me fall off my chair, hysterically laughing, was that what he killed, was a rooster?!

The story unfolds with a rage which suddenly grips a man, with no apparent motive, shoves his wife out the way (although the series never tells you why),then he proceeds to get a riffle and begins shooting at something. At first, we think it's the wife who's getting "whacked", but no. When the whole drama, which unfolds, is over, and one looks out the window to see what got "hit". We see a rooster.

All that anger, all that rage, believing he would kill a member of his own family, come to find out,he was upset because he wanted chicken and there wasn't any available(I guess Ireland, where the series was shot, is devoid of poultry!)

And therefore kills his wife's pet rooster instead.

This was hilarious to say the least! And well made, very clever!

This was a surprise "farce" which was, in five minutes, GENIUS!

I give it FIVE STARS