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THEATER REVIEW | Blue Water Theatre Company's "This Is Our Youth" very youthful

This Is Our Youth - the troubled trio of Warren (Kevin Dye), Jessica (Kasey Carpenter), and Dennis (Adam Hebeisen); photo courtesy of Blue Water Theatre Company

I’m not sure I should be reviewing Blue Water Theatre Company’s production of Kenneth Lonergan’s play This Is Our Youth. On the one hand, it is part of Southern Theater’s ARTshare offerings, and Blue Water is one of the resident companies this year. On the other hand, this could only charitably be called a full production, and I don’t think it helps anybody if I start grading on a curve. If reviewing Defying Gravity felt like kicking a puppy, I’m not sure where to take that metaphor if I start evaluating This Is Our Youth.

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THEATER REVIEW | Gadfly Theatre Productions' "Vile Affections": God only knows

Sister Bart (Emily Weiss), Sister Caterina (Sarah Parker) and Sister Fiora (Dana Lee Thompson) - the three holy sisters who are Sister Benedetta's undoing in Gadfly Theatre Productions' Vile Affections; photo courtesy of Gadfly Theatre Productions

I’m fully behind Gadfly Theatre Productions’ mission of creating queer and feminist theater and art. (Heck, I even took part in their original shorts festival last summer.) But Vanda’s Vile Affections isn’t doing them any favors. The script has so many unreliable narrators for this supposedly true but sparsely documented story of nuns under investigation in 17th century Italy that I not only lost the thread of the story, at a certain point I wasn’t even sure what the story was anymore. The case of Sister Benedetta Carlini (Amanda Kay Thomm Bahr) is notable for being one of the earliest documented cases of a lesbian affair. But Benedetta’s sexual relations with Sister Bartolomea Crivelli (Bart, for short) (Emily Weiss) don’t take place until well into the second act. And it’s not as if there’s a slow burn leading up to the event throughout the first act. In that sense, Vile Affections would appear to be about something else. What that is (you’ll pardon the expression) God only knows. 

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THEATER REVIEW | Savage Umbrella's "These are The Men" all about the woman

Jocasta (Laura Leffler-McCabe) and her brother Creon (Michael Ooms) are being stalked by Jocasta's past, present and future all at once in the trippy Oedipus riff These Are The Men from Savage Umbrella; photo by Carl Atiya Swanson

It’s tough being Jocasta (Laura Leffler-McCabe).  Sure, you’re the queen of Thebes, but when your husband Laius (Daniel Ian Joeck) goes to the Oracle at Delphi (Hannah K. Holman) and gets a prophecy, it can seriously muck up your family planning.  The Oracle tells Laius that his as yet unborn son will grow up to kill his father (Laius) and marry his mother (Jocasta). What is Laius supposed to do?  When a boy is born, you take him from his mother’s arms, hand him off to a shepherd (Foster Johns) and order the man to leave the baby on some far off hillside to die.

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THEATER REVIEW | Theatre Pro Rata sends mixed messages with "The Woodsman"

Publicity image for Theatre Pro Rata's production of The Woodsman; photo by Charles Gorrill

It isn’t often that a piece of theater makes me want to crawl out of my own skin and yell at the characters on stage.  And I mean that as a compliment.  Theatre Pro Rata’s production of Steven Fechter’s play The Woodsman is that kind of theater.  Normally, even when I’m totally engrossed in a play, I’m still scribbling my notes to come back to later, noting telling bits of dialogue and key elements of the design.  Not giving anything away, there’s a key scene late in the action of The Woodsman where a former child molester named Walter (Adam Whisner), who has previously struck up a conversation with a pre-teen girl named Robin (Lillie Horton) in the park, crosses paths with her again.  In my notes, I started writing the word I couldn’t say out loud, “Leave.  Leave.  Leave.  Leave.”  And I was directing that word just as much (or more) at Walter as I was to Robin.  That’s the strange alchemy of The Woodsman.  With a stellar cast under the sure directing hand of Erik Hoover, this Pro Rata production actually had me concerned for the well-being of a person who I understandably have very mixed feelings about.  Just as much as a feared for Robin, I feared for Walter. Because The Woodsman had allowed me to see Walter as human.  Not an uncomplicated human.  Not a perfect human.  But a human nonetheless.

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Women's Corsets & Girl Shorts

Girl ShortsThe Theatre Unbound logo is a cor

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A Special Something There - Beauty and the Beast

Over the years, many classic Disney tales have come to life on Broadway, including Beauty and

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Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast played at the Orpheum theater on tuesday night, and for huge fans of Disney and small children, I’m sure the show was a

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"Tale As Old As Time" Is Nothing New

Growing up, Belle was my favorite Disney Princess, so my excitement was high going into Tuesday’s performance of Beauty and the Beast.

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