Friday, April 19, 2019

QUICK TAKE Review By Beverly Creasey Gleeful Dog Days @ BCA

Pete Gurney knows dogs. Years ago the late Boston playwright fell hard for a Lab pup and brought it home, much to the chagrin of his wife, who was not consulted. That’s pretty much the plot of SYLVIA (playing through April 21st) except to say that the sensational comedienne Shana Dirik plays Sylvia in Michelle Aguillon’s delightful production for Theater Uncorked.

Dirik is all pup: She’s saucy, impetuous and desperate to be loved. And she’s not above flashing those irresistible puppy dog eyes at her master (Allan Mayo) when his wife (Kim McClure) opposes the adoption. Gurney’s script is smart, literate and just a bit shameless when Sylvia does, well, what dogs do with other dogs.

See the production for Dirik’s outrageous performance and for David Anderson’s nifty hat trick: first as a macho, nosey, know-it-all dog owner, then as a ritzy Vassar alumna, and lastly, Anderson  tops it off as a lunatic shrink who invites patients to choose whether they want a male or a female therapist, as (s)he can be either!

Believe it on not, the hilarious script has something serious to say about connecting with nature… and our need to bond with animals.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

QUICK TAKE REVIEW By Beverly Creasey The Whirligig of Time

TWELFTH Night was first performed in Boston in 1794. (I missed that one.) But Paula Plum’s 2019 production (at Lyric Stage through April 28th) should go down in history as one of the most fiercely intelligent versions ever to contemplate the comedy. There’s the rub, as the Bard might say. Is it really a comedy?

Plum posits the question, this being a play about strangers in a new, sometimes hostile country, not to mention in a climate where abuse is tolerated, even encouraged. Having seen Plum’s inspired take on kindness and cruelty, I couldn’t help but surrender my heart to the poor, “grievously abused” Malvolio. The combined Lyric/Actor’s Shakespeare Project production features master comedian Richard Snee in the role of the hilariously “cross-gartered” secretary to Lady Olivia (Samantha Richert).

Not to worry, there is an abundance of hilarity in the production, led by the brilliant Rachel Belleman as Feste, the “saucy” torch singer/nobody’s fool. She tears through David Wilson’s inspired arrangements of Shakespearean (as well as gorgeous 20th century) songs. In fact, Lady Olivia’s household is bursting to the brim with pranks and pratfalls. What there isn’t, in Plum’s capable hands, is a pat ending. That may be her triumph… That, and casting Haley Spivey as the perfect “divided” Viola. Divided, as she is a twin (to Dominic Carter) and, like Mozart’s divided violas, she takes our breath away with her sublime performance.

Don’t miss this Twelfth Night.