Just when you thought it was safe to go back to "places":
Bob Mondello had a pass this week at Shakespeare's Rape of Lucrece, by the playwright occasionally known as LuckySpinster, and he rather liked it. "You’d have to be a little nuts to go where Washington Shakespeare Company has traipsed so adventurously," he says right at the top. No fear, though: The story sells, and the Spinster's "skill at matching the Bard’s couplets with her own is impressive, as is her facility for delineating ancient politics -- but it’s her literary wit that sets Rape of Lucrece apart."
Celia Wren weighed in last week in the WashPo, saying much the same. Staging the standards, she writes, is "for wimps": "Kimball and director Sarah Denhardt cannily exploit the discomfort factor" inherent in the topic and the text, and WSC's production "unfurls on an unnervingly intimate scale." (Tboy, for his part, thought WSC did an amazing job with production values, considering that the show was basically an emergency reboot, and that the Spinster did a bang-up job making a lot of brand-new dialogue sound very much like Shakespeare.)
Our boy Glen Weldon, fearless man, confronted Forum Theatre's multimedia Kid-Simple: A Radio Play in the Flesh, and didn't exactly love it-- though he did make it sound cool enough to make Tboy want to catch up with it: "Director Jessica Burgess throws a lot of stuff against the (fourth) wall, but not much ends up sticking: The script’s wordplay gets lost amid the tumult, and once the proceedings become loaded down with portent and allegory, the show never recovers .... With some tightening, Kid-Simple will become faster, funnier, and less self-conscious. The ending, however, still won’t make any damn sense."
Celia says Jordan Harrison's "gleefully loopy, language-drunk script is an esoteric melding of spy caper and modern fantasy", complete with "a meta-theatrical spin ... an onstage part for a sound-effects maestro, the Foley Artist, who generates the story's audibles ... in view of the audience." (That would be Scott Burgess.) Sez Celia: "It's a coy gimmick but it defamiliarizes a routine element of theater -- sound -- thereby resuscitating its mystique."
Tboy took his own self out to Olney (on a cold and snowy night, too), for The Constant Wife, which he thought mostly charming: It's a "snappy entertainment" that "plays brisk and pretty and witty," even if "the archly modern attitudes and the brittle, Wilde-at-heart banter ultimately aren’t quite dazzling enough to blind audiences to the thinness of Maugham’s characterizations." The sets and costumes rock, though.
Nelson Pressley seems to have been in the same drawing room: He reviewed the set for two paragraphs (which always strikes Tboy as a sign that a critic's treading carefully around the question of whether he liked the show or not), then went on to not quite weigh in on the rest of the production until toward the end: "Elliott ... couldn't be breezier. The supporting cast pitches their performances accordingly... They manage the affair as Constance would: with a muted but impeccable sense of style."
Oh, and Peter Marks braved the streets of New York, reporting back that Journey's End is gripping and that in the last third of The Coast of Utopia, "the lengthy preliminaries finally have given way to a story of historical suppleness and sweep."
Bonus non-review thingy: PeterM also talks to the puppet guy from the Kennedy Center's Carnival!, which Tboy's gonna catch tomorrow.