Productions of 2002
One of the most relevant productions presented in the region
in this or any year, especially given the recent outing of
Trent Lott. Well-acted and well-staged, Brutal Imagination
showed what an Equity troupe can do when they challenge
themselves and an audience.
Gibson’s new play was astounding theater, a play that actually
deserved its standing ovation and rave reviews. It achieved
wonders in 95 minutes, and thrilled those struggling to understand
the Middle East imbroglios.
Guys on Ice
Five months after seeing Guys on Ice, my daughter can
still sing “Fish is the Miracle Food,” a sort of Monty Python-meets-Prairie-Home-Companion
paean to the wonders of fish, including a hilarious moment
when Jesus cures a one-armed man using a perch sandwich. The
songs were silly, and dallied with the innocence of love (to
borrow from Shakespeare). This was musical sketch comedy full
of sly little moments.
Seeing 1776 on a hot Fourth of July matinee was one
of the highlights of my time reviewing, and the show had the
marvelous effect of making me feel proud to be an American
and glad that there were a few voices 226 years ago that spoke
out against tyranny and the moneyed class. 1776 showed
that the true American spirit is one of protest.
A Saint She Ain’t
In a summer of pretenders, this was the real deal: a genuine
tap-dancing, feel-good parody of 1940s-era Hollywood musicals
that made you remember that even in the worst of times you
can have the best of laughs. It made its audience laugh and
smile, and made their hearts lighter than their wallets, and
that’s just about as good a deal as you can get in show business.
There and Not There
& Space Limited
The most efficient and engaging version of Hamlet that
anyone but a purist could ask for. This was hypnotic: The
acts were rearranged, the soliloquies chopped up and shared,
but the center held. And any version of the play that has
Gertrude saying “Hamlet, don’t fuck around” has captured the
essence of Shakespeare’s longest and most famous play.
The best holiday fare Capital Rep has produced. As much fun
to watch as it must have been to perform, this was surprisingly
engaging theater that tiptoed across the theatrical divide:
How many in the audience identified with the set-upon protagonist,
Sam, versus how many would be identified as the pretentious
poseurs setting upon the defenseless worker?
York State Theater Institute
This new musical was like a historical Camelot minus the magic.
It was a fast-paced, marvelously produced show tracing the
politics leading to the ur-text of the Declaration of Independence.
Woody Guthrie’s American Song
By transferring a little of the soul and sound of Altamont’s
Old Songs Festival, Capital Rep brought a little grit, some
dusky sunlight, and a hint of campfire smell to downtown Albany.
The production made a case for “This Land Is Your Land” as
the national anthem.
Smartly staged, continually entertaining, unusually funny,
and occasionally thought-provoking, Henry V memorably
wedded red-clown-nose to Shakespeare’s version of history.
the gods: Actors Collaborative Inc.s A Perfect
Committed (Capital Rep)
Balcony (S & C)
Brutal Imagination (StageWorks)
Perfect Ganesh (Actors’ Collaborative
Saint She Ain’t (BTF)
of Song (NYSTI)
(S & C)
Simply for keeping his dignity in the Battleship: Earth
of the 2002 season.
Productions of 2002
Critic: Ralph Hammann
A revelation as directed by Anders Cato and performed by Marin
Hinkle, who is a genius. After seeing her triumph with the
near-impossible part of Miss Julie, I want to see her play
every great role in the theater.
and found: WTFs Wheres Charlie?
A lost musical gem, lovingly restored by Nicholas Martin and
a winning cast headed by the irrepressible Christopher Fitzgerald.
God of Vengeance
Another lost treasure thrillingly revived with the Williamstown
Theatre Festival’s stunning production values, powerful cast
(Diane Venora and Marin Hinkle being standouts) and astute
direction of Gordon Edelstein.
One of the funniest plays of contemporary theater, it was
given an all-stops-out production that left one giddy from
laughter and smiling at the play’s humanistic core.
Lacking nothing, Ruben Santiago Hudson defined tour-de-force
as he single-handedly peopled the stage with unforgettable
characters in this delicate and gutsy tribute to the woman
who brought him up.
True to the mission of the Unicorn Theatre, Peter Wallace’s
production was a rich, complex tragedy that demanded much
and rewarded more. Eric Hill was devastatingly dynamic.
In retrospect, Ronald Harwood’s new play had some flaws, but
they were small prices to pay for the play’s good humor, worthy
subject and delightful performances of Robert Vaughn and Kaye
Proof of what miracles can be done with a handful of talented
actors, clever direction (E. Gray Simons) and good writing
on a near-bare stage.
This high-energy production of a little-seen chamber-sized
pop opera about life in the four small apartments of a New
York City brownstone ended up being a touching tribute to
common folks’ survival and the great city.
Written and acted with dignity and truthfulness, the best
production on the otherwise lackluster Nikos stage was about
the expression of pure love and tearing down walls.
Shakespeare & Company
A titanic, drably mounted bore alleviated only by the jaw-dropping
inanity of the concept, direction and actors’ “moments”—as
when Macbeth, that mighty warrior, whimpers and whines like
No Cure in Sight
There actually was a cure for this, the nadir of Oldcastle’s
abysmal anniversary season: euthanasia. Smelled of a vanity
production all the way.
A Complete History of America (abridged)
The thing about these small-cast- playing-multiple-roles comedies
is that they have to be quick, versatile and inspired—not
slow, infantile and perspired. Humor would also help.
The Apple Tree
Witnessing the wretched leads wend their ways through different
playlets and characters was the dramatic equivalent of watching
worms wriggle out of rotten apples to be periodically devoured
by squawking birds.
For the Pleasure of Her Company
Not even the Williamstown Theatre Festival’s dismal A Distant
Country Called Youth could compete in patience-testing
with this claptrap, which in harridan Olympia Dukakis’ hands
and mouth seemed like garbage being spewed from an overloaded
her excel in this formidable role would have satisfied all
my theatrical cravings for the entire season.
Ruben Santiago Hudson
of Vengeance (WTF)
of Vengeance (WTF)