Review of Fight Girl Battle World

The fast-paced if somewhat chaotic action features bizarre aliens, cool ray guns, girls in tight outfits, a loquacious robot, spaceships and fire-fights, a Chinese dragon ride across a desert planet, an intergalactic zookeeper, copious pseudo kung-fu and/or quasi ninja shenanigans, puppetry so bad it’s good, and an implement of “enhanced interrogation” I’ll call a tickle drill.

Review of A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens was never one to shy away from good old-fashioned sentimentality, but his A Christmas Carol is downright shellacked with it. Stage versions of the story typically either give it one more half-hearted buff, or try somewhat desperately to scrape away the goo with a little irony. Now, however, we may rightfully speak of a third option: Cram the whole damn thing into The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and populate it with Children of the Corn. Oh, and throw in a little cross-dressing for good measure.

Review of Solo Shots

While I applaud artistic directors Susan and Giles Collard for giving the dancers a crack at creating their own choreography, the results prove something we already knew: that a good dancer does not necessarily a choreographer make. Beautiful movement is not enough. What we hope for is movement that expresses something significant, something urgent — something, moreover, that cannot be expressed any other way.

Review of The Glass Menagerie

Otherwise, Hans Meyer’s direction reveals an admirable clarity and restraint that allow his actors to do the work the play requires. The staging is remarkably streamlined and well-integrated, with none of the directorial caprice one sees all too often scrambling a play’s signal.

Chicago: A Musical Vaudeville at Flat Rock Playhouse

Flat Rock Playhouse’s current offering, a revival of the original (1975) Chicago: A Musical Vaudeville, embraces this “it’s-all-fun-and-games” ethos magnificently. In keeping with the current trend at the Playhouse, under (still relatively new) Producing Artistic Director Vincent Marini, the show is a lavish spectacle, with production values comparable to those of Broadway.

The Nutcracker and the Mouse King at Diana Wortham Theatre

Unbridled enthusiasm is unseemly in a reviewer, to be sure — but that’s easily got around when necessary by quoting someone else. So let me quote my father, who accompanied me to Friday night’s performance of Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King at Diana Wortham Theatre: “Heck if that wasn’t the most fun I’ve had in a long time.”

Review of The Prisoner of Second Avenue

Early in his illustrious career, Neil Simon was often criticized for the shallowness of his characters and the frivolity of his material. While these deficiencies seemed in no way to detract from audiences’ enjoyment of his plays, Simon responded by writing The Prisoner of Second Avenue, an apparently sincere effort to treat of more serious themes and more complex characters, albeit in a comic framework.

Review of A Few Good Men

The pace is so relentless, the flashbacks are so abrupt, the sly Perry Mason-esque moments of “I just have one more little question” are so predictable, and (in the current production by Flat Rock Playhouse) the actors are just so darn good-looking, that pretty soon one begins to feel that one is in fact watching a TV drama.

Review of Noises Off

The play is smart, and this production is good fun. But you see the challenge: how does one play a character well who is himself playing a character but doing it badly? Or what’s the difference between terrible acting and acting terrible?

Review of Shakespear­e’s King Lear at Montford Park

On opening night of King Lear at Montford Park, the foolish king cursed his daughter to the sputtering drone of bark being shredded, and later as he bewailed her death, fireworks boomed and crackled patriotically in the near distance. And it all made sense in a weird kind of way: for is Lear not shredding the branches of his own family tree? And is his repentance not cause for grim and sparkly celebration?

Review of For the Glory

For the Glory is in every respect a spectacular piece of entertainment: The music and the singing are near flawless, the staging runs like a well-oiled machine, the set is stunning and the lights contribute beautifully to the whole effect.

Sending up our sexual hypocrisie­s

If the recent news of ecological catastrophe in the Gulf, or (closer to home) vandalism and hate crimes in Our Fair City have got you feeling a little down, take my advice: Give N.C. Stage a buzz and reserve a ticket for What the Butler Saw, the near-perfect farce by British playwright Joe Orton currently […]