Writer: Stephen Fife

Steve is a 5-tool writer (plays, screenplays, novels, poetry, journalism) who has had 11 books published, 10 plays produced, and has written for the New York Times “Arts & Leisure”, Village Voice, New Republic, and many others. He is one of the few people on the planet who can lay claim to spending time with Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, Sandy Meisner, Allen Ginsberg, Andy Warhol, and Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, as well as so many other extraordinary people who refused to color inside the lines. He is always on the lookout for the original and the incisive.
Jul

Tales From the Powder Room

...Both actors display a fearless intensity, and the scene leads to an unexpected and satisfying conclusion. Excellent performances highlight how attractive this play may prove to be for women actors of any age looking for a spotlight to shine in.

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Jul

Wigfield

The shame here is letting the play get so plot-heavy that it drowns out so many wonderfully inventive performances.

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Jul

A Night Out by Harold Pinter

It’s a dark, dour play, somewhat dated, but it still packs a punch.

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Jul

BLACKBOXING

It’s a treat for any theater-lover to see how Ritchey and director Matthew Martin keep all these balls in the air — as satire, physical comedy, original song-and-dance, primal scream, family drama, meta performance piece, and more — while continuing to shade in his portrait of a theatrical novice headed for a breakdown.

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Jul

Death of a Salesman

The outstanding performance on the Ruskin stage is given by Lee Garlington as Willy’s wife, Linda. Garlington brings Linda to life as the emotional center of the troubled Loman family, who does everything she can to reverse her husband’s downward spiral while blaming their sons for having abandoned him.

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Jul

There are other talented performers in the production, most notably the very lovely Marta Kiec-Gubala as Isabel Canto, Dali’s friend and legal representative. Picasso, Andy Warhol and Marilyn Monroe are characters too, speaking out on behalf of Dali to his enemies. Regrettably, there are no real stakes in the play, nothing we are moved to care about, and they all blend together in an absurdist celebrity stew.

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Jun

POCKETS

The hour-long musical that ensues is a combination of Oliver! and Les Miserables, borrowing from and satirizing both. The songs by Branson NeJame are knowledgeable and witty and always fun to listen to. The core ensemble of Robot Teammate is all wonderful — Dworsky, Reynolds, Primeau and especially Chris Bramante as Veegan, a master thief on the order of Fagan in Oliver Twist. His singing and dancing have never been better, and he makes every moment that he is a part of count. Dworsky is also consistently funny and provides the emotional heart of the show. - RECOMMENDED

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Jun

DANA H.

One thing not up for debate is Les Waters’ production, which is impeccable. I cannot imagine it being bettered in any regard. It is certainly among the top three productions I’ve viewed at the Douglas in the last several years. For theatergoers who have often seen shows that ape what others have done, nothing more, Dana H. is a real tonic. This is how powerful the theater can be, and it’s great to be reminded of that.

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Jun

Horny! the Musical

I give her credit for making her idea a reality. I’m sure the show’s title and promo image will sell some tickets, but this effort remains better as an idea than as an actual show.

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Jun

All of this could be the stuff of greatness in the hands of a great playwright, but it seems very generic in the hands of Theobald. The Porters of Hellgate try to give it a mythic-meta timelessness, setting it “neither here nor there …long ago and also right now.” They also bring in music from Eminem and other contemporary artists. None of which feels organic. In fact, it makes a confusing story harder to follow and more difficult to get emotionally involved in.

Still, one appreciates the Porters bringing this historical curio to the Hollywood Fringe (and soon to their NoHo home), and those with unfettered admiration for the Bard would do well to check it out.

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Jun

The Narcissist Next Door

There are some sparkling lines and some enjoyable byplay, but the heart of Ms. Buckley’s comedy is the friendship of Kate and Sebastian, and this gets lost in the course of Tony’s manipulations. A half-hour of new age narcissism would have been more than enough for me.

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Jun

Mama Metal

IAMA Theatre, under the direction of Deena Selenow, has given Mama Metal a brilliantly tactile production. Each performer displays a deep commitment to bringing Gilmer’s vision to life, including Christian Telesmar and Cesar Cipriano who, as Sterling’s fantasy men, spend most of the play stripped to their boxer shorts. Courtney Sauls and Lee Sherman deliver spectacular performances. All the production designers have done excellent work too, with R.S. Buck’s moody lighting and sound designer Jeff Gardner’s heavy metal soundtrack being particular standouts. - RECOMMENDED

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May

Invisible Tango

Invisible Tango has all the subtlety and beauty of a novella by that Argentinian word-magician, Jorge Luis Borges. As with Borges’s best stories — and unlike almost every other magic show I have seen — this theater event will stay with me for a very long time. My congratulations to Guimarães and to those who have collaborated with him to create this lovely and entertaining meditation on the enigma of human existence. - RECOMMENDED

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May

Anna in the Tropics

This production recalls for us not only the many gifts that immigrants carry with them but the deep conflicts and complications that they often encounter here. - RECOMMENDED

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May

Wild Son: The Testimony of Christian Brando

Throughout the ups and downs of this picaresque adventure, one thing is constant: John Mese's performance. This well-traveled TV character actor (recurring on Profiler and American Gothic, guesting on X-Files, CSI, Sex and The City and many others) proves that he has serious acting chops, and I highly recommend his performance to those who appreciate superior live stage work.

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May

Crime and Punishment

I would recommend this show as an introduction to Dostoievsky's world. By all means, go see it — then read the novel and realize how much bigger this story is than what you've seen here.

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Apr

WORKING 2020

Right now the sum of the parts is unequal to the power of the individual presentations. The production seems to be in development, still searching for a form. In the meantime, I highly recommend it for its many great performances and for the beleaguered characters that have been created. They will linger in your mind long after the show has ended.

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Apr

Ada and the Engine

On the whole, Heidi Powers and her collaborators work well together in creating that feminist myth of triumph and transcendence — except when the script lets them down. This is especially the case at the end, where Gunderson tries to do too much and the play stumbles over its own ambitions. Still, Theatre Unleashed does itself proud with this production, which demonstrates their dedication to the art of theater and a refusal to be stymied by a small budget, just as Ada herself refused to be defeated by the many powerful forces arrayed against her.

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Mar

Bar Mitzvah Boy

Director Teichman is savvy in knowing how to appeal to the traditional sentiments of his target audience/subscriber base of older Jews, and many in the audience seemed entertained. The problem, of course, is that this audience is diminishing, and the next generation may not respond as obligingly to the ingratiating tone of Teichman's productions.

It's time for the company to be looking forward, rather than always in the rear-view mirror. It still isn't too late.

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Mar

FRIENDS WITH GUNS

There are some interesting directions that the story could take, but Ms. Walker pursues one in which guns become a metaphor for the problems between Shannon and Josh. This is where I checked out, because guns for me are not a metaphor. But beyond this personal objection, I also found many scenes to be overly long, making the same points over and over. There's a scene between the two husbands that seems to go on forever, while nothing changes. I don't know what director Randee Trabitz was going for here and elsewhere, but it wasn't working.

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