The summer season winds down with (too) many of the usual crowd-pleasers, enlivened by a couple of world premieres, a re-vamping of an Oscar Wilde warhorse, and an encounter with non-being, courtesy of Edward Albee.
By Bill Marx
The Taster by Joan Ackermann. Directed by Tina Packer. Staged by Shakespeare & Company at the Founders’ Theatre, Lenox, MA, through September 4. The world premiere of a play that promises to be “a sumptuous feast of language” that “introduces audiences to a world where the powers of literature and imagination co-mingle in the affairs of a contemporary couple at a crossroads.” The cast features Rocco Sisto (OBIE Award winner), Maureen O’Flynn (acclaimed soprano), Tom O’Keefe, and Robert Biggs.
Othello by William Shakespeare. Directed by Steven Maler. Staged by Commonwealth Shakespeare Company at the Boston Common, Boston, MA, through August 15. The “green-eyed monster” makes an outdoor appearance in the annual presentation of free Shakespeare in the Parkman Bandstand at the heart of Boston. The cast includes Seth Gilliam, James Waterson, and Marianna Bassham.
The Last Goodbye: A Musical Adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Conceived, adapted, and directed by Michael Kimmel. Music and lyrics by Jeff Buckley. Staged by the Williamstown Theatre Festival at the Nikos Stage, Williamstown, MA, August 5–20. Another version of the doomed romance set to music: “An ensemble of 14 singer/actors bring to life the lyrical beauty of two great poets set in a world of youthful angst, grandeur, and grit. Fall for Romeo and Juliet all over again in this incendiary new musical.”
The Tempest by William Shakespeare. Directed by Michael Duncan Smith. Staged by the Gurnet Theatre Project at the Miles Standish Monument State Reservation, Duxbury, MA, August 6–15. An outdoor production of Prospero and Company that is posited to be “perfect for family audiences of all ages.”
FeverFest 2010: Left Off Dreaming. The Small Theatre Alliance of Boston presents the fifth annual celebration of emerging artists in the Boston area at The Factory Theatre, Boston, MA, August 11–14. FeverFest began as a day-long event exhibiting a whirlwind of theatrical styles and artists sharing one stage. The mission: “to connect exploratory artists with adventurous audiences by creating an outlet for creative contemporary performance in the Greater Boston area.”
Here is the line-up of stage events: A Womb with a View by Rich Orloff (Bad Habit Productions). A young girl, minutes away from being born, has second thoughts about leaving the comfort of her current home; Your Dream of MeHeads or Tales? by Silvia Graziano (Fort Point Theatre Channel). In a disturbing game of domestic bliss, we learn that people are not always what they seem to be; Lucy Dreaming by Stacey Lane (GAN-e-meed Theatre Project). An insomniac tries to lull herself to sleep, while her subconscious desperately tries to stay awake to avoid the beasts waiting in her dreams; A Good Cup of Tea by M. Lynda Robinson. The time when the belief in your infinite potential runs headlong into the limits of your finite life , and the reflections of that life become the life.
An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde. Adapted by Daniel Morris. Directed by Karen MacDonald. Presented by the Gloucester Stage Company, East Main Street, Gloucester, MA, August 12–29. An interesting way to revamp a stage warhorse: Four actors portray nine characters, adding a gender-bending layer to Wilde’s classic comedy about friendship, political corruption, blackmail, and redemption—as timely today as when first presented in 1895. Acclaimed actress and director Karen MacDonald returns to direct this novel adaptation, developed by one of Boston’s exciting new companies, Bad Habit Productions.”
As Bees in Honey Drown by Douglas Carter Beane. Directed by Jake Scaltreto. Staged by Flat Earth Theatre at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown, MA, August 13–21. This “dark comedy” proffers “a droll indictment of celebrity culture, weaving a modern picture of life, art, love, and betrayal.”
A Delicate Balance by Edward Albee. Directed by David Auburn. Staged by the Berkshire Theatre Festival, Stockbridge, MA, August 17 through September 4. My personal favorite among Edward Albee’s plays, an acidic fable of what happens with non-being comes a knockin’ at a suburban home. The cast includes Keir Dullea, Mia Barron, and Maureen Anderman.
The Memory Show. Book and Lyrics by Sara Cooper. Music by Zach Redler. Directed by Joe Calarco. At the Barrington Stage Company, Barrington, MA, August 18–29. The world premiere of a musical, a product of The Musical Theatre Lab, that is billed as “a two-person comic tragedy about the complicated relationship between a woman who has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and her estranged daughter who moves back home to Brighton Beach to care for her.”
Cabaret by Kander and Ebb. Directed by Steven Bogart. Staged by the American Repertory Theater at Oberon, 2 Arrow Street, Cambridge, August 31 through October 29. “Singer and songwriter Amanda Palmer of Dresden Doll fame stars as the Kit Kat Klub’s magnetic Emcee, presiding over the debauched party where nothing is as it seems, with A.R.T. regulars Remo Airaldi, Thomas Derrah, and Jeremy Geidt.”