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It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s Man’s World: Propeller Company

This week in the Village Voice’s theater section, Michael Feingold went behind the scenes, spying on the backstage worlds of Curtains and Our Leading Lady. He remarks, “Just as the stage is a standard metaphor for the world, the disorienting realm we call backstage is the mirror of our hidden world, a place where everything stage illusion disguises can get spilled out, and spelled out explicitly, under harsh, unflattering work lights.” Feingold objects to elements of Charles Busch’s writing and Lynne Meadow’s direction, but happily falls under the spell of Leading Lady’s leading lady, Kate Mulgrew. While complimenting its cast, he calls Curtains, “a lot of sound and fury signifying mild diversion.”

Feingold also set sail on a performance of Jack Goes Boating. He finds it somewhat shallow going: “Its sweetness and surface truth, though pleasurably genuine, don’t offer the characters either much depth or much convincing context.”

I rather selfishly swallowed up the Sightlines section so as to sample the glut of Shakespeare shows running at present. I was entirely tamed by Propeller Theater Company’s Taming of the Shrew, “the homosocial universe of the Propeller production offers commentary on and criticism of the text itself, laying bare its assumptions regarding sex and gender, the cruelty toward women it seems to unthinkingly endorse.” Their Twelfth Night also made for a pleasant evening. I had a colder reaction to poortom productions a new all-male company devoted to Shakespeare, finding that “Neither actors nor director seem to delight much in the verse. The best bits are extratextual moments. Poor Tom has assembled an able company—and some very lively designers—but they may wish to rethink their Shakespeare focus.” The verse wasn’t worth delighting in in Sweet Love, Adieu, Ryan J-W Smith’s sophomoric Shakespearean pastiche.

I also swore some degree of fealty to Signature’s revival of King Hedley II, finding it a very worthy resurrection.

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