Archive for the ‘American Repertory Theater’ Category

No Child

November 29, 2007

Have you ever gone to see a performance that received a standing ovation? Usually there is some hesitation. First you wonder, “is somebody going to stand up?” Then you wonder, “is everybody going to stand up?” Well, have you ever seen a show where there was no doubt, and everybody jumped to their feet at the end? Last night’s opening of “No Child” at the Loeb Drama Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts was the no-doubt kind. It was a first for me, I think.

“No Child” is a one-woman show by Nilaja Sun. It is a fictionalized account of Sun’s experience teaching theater at Malcolm X High School in the Bronx—sort of a modern-day, female “To Sir, With Love.” Sun plays all the characters, from the children to the Principal to the parents and the janitor. She switches from role to role in an amazing rapid-fire Robin-Williamsesque style. But unlike Robin Williams, each character takes over Sun’s entire body. You can tell who is talking from his or her posture and body language alone.

The performance was astonishing. I’m glad I saw it. I’m going to cherish it like a trophy. I’ve always been envious that my father actually saw Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews in My Fair Lady on Broadway. Well, I saw Nilaja Sun in “No Child.” Yeah, that was awesome.

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Veiled Monologues

October 17, 2007

veiled10-500x249.jpgI saw The Veiled Monologues at the Zero Arrow Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts last night. It is billed as “a vital, surprising, and poetic portrait of love and relationships in the Islamic community” in Holland. It seemed to me more of a relentless and depressing portrait of female oppression. From Death of a Princess to Not Without my Daughter to Reading Lolita in Tehran, we see plenty of this narrative (“doesn’t the old world suck?”). I was kind of hoping for something different.

The Onion Cellar

January 1, 2007

One of the highlights my vacation was seeing three live shows in the space of eight days—a record, I think, since having kids.

The best of the three by far was The Onion Cellar—an experimental collaboration between The Dresden Dolls (a rock duo), and the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The point of the experiment is to produce a cathartic emotional experience for the audience.

There is no main plot in The Onion Cellar—only a handful of short dramatic vignettes. But that is okay. It is basically the Dresden Dolls’ regular “brechtian punk cabaret” show, plus a bit of story and some world-class acting talent.

The music combined with the dramatic vignettes definitely add up to a more powerful whole than the sum of the individual parts. Bottom line: the experiment works.

onion01.jpg

Now through January 13, Zero Arrow Theater, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tickets $15 (student rush) – $50