Thursday, November 2, 2017

Disgraced. Unicorn. 11/2/2017

This play was Shakespearen in theme. Is someone made into what everyone else believes that they already are? Do our prejudices and bigotry actually create the hated images and people we sofeat? This is an important work that everyone needs to see. It was amazing in its telling of what it means to live under modern racist pressure, and how destructive that can be. Amazingly performed. The lighting was gorgeous. Set perfect. Everything was just 110%.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Eclipsed by Danai Gurira at the Unicorn Theatre

I knew "Eclipsed" was going to be brilliant, and difficult to watch, but I was not prepared. This story sits in your bones and makes you consider all the wars women fight across the world, and the fights the women of Liberia have had to wage.

The story follows the wives of a commanding officer. The wives were taken during raids, and the play pulls no punches regarding murder, rape or war crimes. What is different is all of the story is told from the point of view of the women, women whose very identities and names are wiped out due to war and man's whims. All of the actresses were amazing, but Teisha M. Bankston was a powerhouse. It was amazing to watch her transformations.


Friday, September 9, 2016

Hand to God at The Unicorn 9.8.16

Last night I watched Hand to God by Robert Askins at The Unicorn Theatre. The Unicorn's calling card is a play or musical with heart that has been put into a blender with some methamphetamines. Everything is just a little off base. In this case, a puppet has become possessed in a church basement and has taken over a young boy named Jason (Bob Linebarger).

I don't know where Mr. Bob Linebarger has been, but the boy needs help and to do these things more often. He plays not only himself, but the psychotic puppet Tyrone, to perfection. It is scary good. There is a scene, I can't ruin it for you but it is worth all the prices of admission from now until the end of time, where Jessica (Mariem Diaz) is playing puppets with Jason. Jessica wrangles her puppet Jolene while Jason wrangles Tyrone. The audience was dying. We couldn't stop. We couldn't hardly let the actors finish their scene. It got awkward how long they just stood there. Just go watch that scene. I swear on the graffiti wall of a church basement.

Now I think Pastor Greg (Marc Liby) is just adorable. I think he's just the cutest since I saw him in Hands on a Hardbody. He can hold his own as the relatively normal force in this cast of crazies. Whenever he is on the docket, watch him. He's very changeable, so it's hard to recognize him from show to show. I love him.

Heidi Van (Margery) I have not seen act before. I was an idiot and didn't see Marilyn/God at the Fishtank. She is an actor, creator, producer and extremely well respected in Kansas City. She's also fucking AHMAZING. Sweet lord the scene in the office with Matthew J. Lindblom (Timmy) also had the audience rolling. Margery could have been a character written off as a caricature, but Heidi Van is too much of an expert for that. Margery had depth and tilted the show around her. And for someone to steal attention from a demonic god damn puppet is a masterpiece of epic proportions.

Kansas City. Only in Kansas City. My friend turned to me and said "Hey, wasn't Matthew J. Lindblom in that rap musical about Lupis?" Yes. Only in Kansas City. One month you're in scrubs rapping about Lupis for KC Fringe, the next month you're strutting around with some of KC's finest in the most hilarious show of the season. You've made it, kid.

The sets and puppets were incredible. Emily Swenson and Sarah White created something living and changeable that was a masterclass in small space design and quick change. All scene designers need to check out the work they did for the quick changes. It was amazing and innovative.

This one can't be missed. Don't be an idiot. Go see it. You'll never look at puppets the same way again.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Fire in Dreamland and Bree

As part of the new works festival, tonight I saw Fire in Dreamland by Rinne Groff, starring Bree Elrod. Last Saturday as part of the festival I saw Michelle T. Johnson's play reading "Rights of Passage." A few months ago I had seen "Lot's Wife" while it was still in workshop. I am mixing everything together and it may not make sense, but, my overall point is that it is an amazing time to be part of Kansas City Theatre. There are new works being created and new works being accepted this season by the Unicorn as part of the National New Play Network. It is a place of creation, and if I may be so bold, it reminds me of the environment Mamet talks about in his book "Theatre" - everyone working together and creating for hours and hours, demanding perfection simply out of the sheer number of hours put in. It is incredible to watch new works be workshopped and born, to change and modify over time, and to watch actors develop their roles. It is glorious. And there is a wonderful group in Kansas City doing this. Right now. 

It was surreal watching Bree. I knew it would be, as I think the last time I saw her was 15 years ago in Harbach for Treacherous Journey. In the same creative vein of making and re-creating a work, actors put the hours and the time into their craft. She was always brilliant in college. Young 20s, we knew she had it. I still remember her acting this monologue where she had to pretend to act on the phone, her comedic timing was impeccable, a skill the rest of us took years to learn. As when I went on vacation to watch Kate Berry act, I had a little bit of sadness. For the past 15 years, they'd been continually working in theatre since school, while I'd put it away in a drawer since that's not something I thought I was allowed to do. I thought to myself, they've grown their craft over all these years, and I'm so behind. Look at how magnificent they are. 

Though the sadness is there from missed time, I've been working on making up for it since 2014, when I got a restart. Why are you always writing like you're running out of time. For some reason, I feel oddly competitive to those I went to school with and others in Kansas City. It is not a bitter jealousy of my 20s, or a stuck hopelessness of my 30s, but a woman nearing her 40s who knows there is a limit to time and how many stories you can create in one lifetime.

With this, let us all create new work. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Spinning Tree Theatre's 5th season closer of AMADEUS

On Wednesday, May 4th I didn't go to a Star Wars themed wedding (as one does) but instead I attended Amadeus - put up by Spinning Tree at The Arts Asylum. Salieri was the Patron Saint of Mediocrity, but Robert Gibby Brand most certainly is not. When I arrived, the usher and I talked for a bit (and I wish I'd gotten her name) and she said the play was a master class for actors.

She was completely correct. Robert Gibby Brand was masterful, carrying the audience from present time to past. At one point while watching him, I had the distinct thought of "This is why I attend live theatre." I could hear the audience around me, and no one moved in the nearly three hour production. It was spellbinding.

Actors must see him in action.

Beautifully done, the entire production was an introspective journey for an artist. Where does talent and popularity begin? Does one seek fame at any cost? And how does one handle someone who is naturally and beautifully gifted, but who behaves as a self centered child? Is it enough to do good work, or is immortality the goal?

Bravo. This is what theatre is for.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Bond - FR!NGE FESTIVAL KC

I am attending my first Fringe show tonight... Bond at JCCC. Please support Fringe!

Facebook.com/kcfringe


The Ghosts of Lote Bravo at The Unicorn

There are plays that are moving, there are plays that are beautiful. There are plays that are fresh and exciting, and plays that are important.

The Ghosts of Lote Bravo is important.

As La Santa Muerte (Meredith Wolfe) whispers, "I do not judge, I listen," so do we, as the audience, listen and watch without judgement. Who are we to judge if a mother (Vanessa Davis) feels responsible for pushing her daughter to do whatever it took to earn money instead of starving? Who are we to judge a young man (Justin Barron) who sees no options, so he murders instead? Who are we to judge a young woman with the heart of a bull, (Rebecca Muñoz) who will do anything to get a earn her place?

It is beautifully crafted. The play is wrapped around the story of Juanda Cantu losing her daughter, reminiscent for me of the desaparecidos of Argentina. Young women, taken and left for dead, are too frequent in Ciudad Juárez, and we are shown the small steps and decisions that lead to such a disappearance. Life is simply an endurance, and a virginal Saint will not be of help in such dark times. La Santa Muerte, who requires a sacrifice of truth and tequila, is a masterful ally in dark times.

This work should not be missed as the rolling world premiere. My hope is that it will join the lexicon of American works. It is an important story.