Review: “Twelfth Night” at Yale Repertory Theatre

Review: “Twelfth Night” at Yale Repertory Theatre

Shakespeare fans: Hold on to your ruffled collars because this version of “Twelfth Night” is unlike any you’ve seen before – and it’s marvelous. Illyria has been reimagined by director Carl Cofield as Wakanda where George Clinton, Sun-Ra, and T’Challa decided to produce this Shakespeare classic of mixed-up gender identity. If that sounds out of the ordinary, that’s because it is, and I loved every minute of it.

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Review: “Good Faith: Four Chats About Race and the New Haven Fire Department” at the Yale Repertory Theatre

Review: “Good Faith: Four Chats About Race and the New Haven Fire Department” at the Yale Repertory Theatre

“So, I get a call a few years ago from a renowned institution, which I attended and to which I still owe money. ‘Would you care to dramatize a multi-year racially charged Supreme Court Case involving a bunch of firefighters in 2003?’ First I think: I will fail; this subject lies in that evil zone where boring meets offensive.”

When Karen Hartman, or at least the nom de plume of Hartman played winningly by Laura Heisler, says those words at the beginning of Yale Repertory Theatre’s “Good Faith: Four Chats About Race and the New Haven Fire Department” she is wrong. “Good Faith,” which was commissioned by the Rep and had its world premiere February 7th, is neither boring or offensive. It’s a smart, surprisingly engaging piece of docudrama that seeks to make sense out of a thorny and controversial event in New Haven’s history. It’s an imperfect work – “Faith” occasionally drags and is overly verbose – but a fascinating one nonetheless, directed with a steady hand by Kenny Leon

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Review: “The Prisoner” at Yale Repertory Theatre

Review: “The Prisoner” at Yale Repertory Theatre

In the past two years, I have been sent by On Stage to write about well over 25 shows – that’s not mentioning the countless plays I’ve seen, read or participated in – and yet “The Prisoner” is probably the hardest one to review. That’s because, unlike those other 25+ shows, “The Prisoner” doesn’t follow the guidelines of modern, Western theater. I understand how that kind of theater-making works from Shakespeare to Shaw to Sondheim. I know the rules and the conventions behind them. I can evaluate how they complement or break those traditions. But “The Prisoner,” making its US debut at the Yale Repertory Theatre, is a turn away from that style of performance.

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Review: World Premiere “El Huracán” at Yale Repertory Theater

Review: World Premiere “El Huracán” at Yale Repertory Theater

Yale Repertory Theater’s stunning season opener “El Huracán” begins with a series of magic tricks. Valeria (Adriana Sevahn Nichols, captivating) finds herself on stage in front of large, billowing curtains. She’s elderly, frail and seems more than a bit confused about how she ended up there. She wanders around for a moment and then, poof, a black-and-white cane appears in her hand. The curtains come down and we are in The Tropicana nightclub. It is the early 1950s in Havana and a magic show is in progress. Colored scarfs vanish and white doves appear out of thin air, all to the strains of “Fly Me To The Moon.” The magician is a beautiful young woman in a blue dress. Valeria watches all of this from the sidelines, mimicking the magician’s moves until you slowly realize the two women are the same. Set-up, presentation, reveal. Repeat.

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Review: "Kiss" at Yale Rep

Review: "Kiss" at Yale Rep

When I was asked to review “Kiss,” Guillermo Calderón’s Rubik’s cube of a political play now appearing at the Yale Repertory Theatre, I assumed that the most difficult part would be having to type out the piece one-handed due to a pesky finger injury. As it turns out, my bum knuckle is the least of my problems. “Kiss” is a fascinating play. It’s an ambitious and inventive work with a lot on its mind. It’s the kind of play I’d love to discuss and analyze at length, but “Kiss” contains a myriad of twists and turns I have been asked to not talk about. It’s probably for the better. The surprises in store at the Yale Rep are among the key pleasures of seeing “Kiss.” So, forgive me if I seem like I’m skirting the matters at hand. I am.

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