Mae West’s Sex

Written by Jonathan Kalb on . Posted in Posts, Theater

Nearly everyone who has looked into the matter now agrees that the real reason for this raid wasn’t Sex, whose greatest provocation was that its prostitute-protagonist didn’t apologize, shrink away or die in the end, but rather West’s other play, The Drag, a raucous and equally unapologetic transvestite spectacle that homophobic officials were determined to [&hellip
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Millennium’s Neighborhood

Written by Jonathan Kalb on . Posted in Posts, Theater

My last month of the millennium began with a wonderful spectacle of civil disobedience, inaugurating a theatrical festival that got almost no preopening publicity but nevertheless deserves more attention than most of what passes for news in this city. Millennium’s Neighborhood (Not a Celebration of the Malling of New York) was the brainchild of the [&hellip
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Dinner with Friends

Written by Jonathan Kalb on . Posted in Posts, Theater

Admirably, Donald Margulies sees himself as part of this need. He has honesty and a Woody Allenish gift for observing the sad subtleties of language, humor, boredom and self-deception among today’s sated middle class. He’ll get where he’s going someday, I suspect. In the meantime, Dinner with Friends, which deals with two 10-years-plus marriages of [&hellip
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Ruskin’s Runaway Countess

Written by Mimi Kramer on . Posted in Posts, Theater

The story it tells is one that most people have probably heard at one time in some form or another, whether they know it or not. It’s probably most readily available in Parallel Lives, Phyllis Rose’s 1983 study of five idiosyncratic Victorian marriages. Briefly, Gray left Ruskin–more or less for the Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett [&hellip
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Checkov, Modernized & Naturalized

Written by Jonathan Kalb on . Posted in Posts, Theater

The Group Theater itself began rehearsals in 1939 for a version of Three Sisters with Americanized dialogue by Clifford Odets, abandoning it before opening as a result of a feud between Stella Adler and Morris Carnovsky over what constituted "truthful" acting. Numerous later American playwrights, such as Lanford Wilson and David Mamet, have laid claim [&hellip
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Lite As Air

Written by Jonathan Kalb on . Posted in Posts, Theater

Lite As Air Few spectacles are closer to the American heart than that of the professional famous person. Celebrity-worship is our culture’s vernacular faith, and (as the sociologist C. Wright Mills once said) our star system is the inevitable result of making a fetish out of competition. We venerate people who have done remarkable things, [&hellip
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JAMES JOYCE’S THE DEAD James Joyce’s The Dead …

Written by Jonathan Kalb on . Posted in Posts, Theater

Playwright’s Horizons 416 W. 42nd St. (betw. 9th & 10th Aves.), 279-4200, through Nov. 28. The Deadly In 1939, Henry Miller added his voice to the chorus of prestigious detractors who had greeted James Joyce throughout his career: "At bottom there is in Joyce a profound hatred for humanity–the scholar’s hatred. One realizes that he [&hellip
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Watery Myths

Written by Jonathan Kalb on . Posted in Posts, Theater

Atlantic Theater Company, 336 W. 20th St. (betw. 8th & 9th Aves.), 239-6200, through Nov. 21. Watery Myths David Mamet is not usually thought of as a political playwright. None of his plays deal with topical issues purely for their own sake, and he has reiterated his abhorrence of explicit polemicism in drama on numerous [&hellip
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Magnificent Oddity

Written by Jonathan Kalb on . Posted in Posts, Theater

Magnificent Oddity For the third year in a row, before the theater season is two months old, I’ve seen a production that I’m sure–without prejudice to any future show–will be one of the pinnacles of my year. In 1997 I had this feeling with Ivo van Hove’s version of O’Neill’s More Stately Mansions. In 1998 [&hellip
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