Recent Reviews

Review: Cyrano de Bergerac by The Archive Theater Company

Review: Cyrano de Bergerac by The Archive Theater Company

by David Glen Robinson
Published on September 03, 2019

Exceptional principal actors, a large ensemble of standouts, gallantry, poetry, combat and love; this immensely complex play is delivered with zeal and panache. CYRANO DE BERGERAC is not to be missed.

 

Edmond Rostand wrote Cyrano de Bergerac in 1897, a play  about a 17th-century French soldier and poet. As the inaugural production of Jennifer Rose Davis’s Archive Theater Company, this archival play is an Austin original. 

 

So why Cyrano de Bergerac? It’s not the nose or the methods of antique warfare; the big heart of the romantic story is unrequited love. Audiences have had an instinctual feel for that for 130 years. Anyone ...

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Review: The Mamalogues by Color Arc Productions

Review: The Mamalogues by Color Arc Productions

by David Glen Robinson
Published on September 01, 2019

Lisa B. Thompson's fictional support group for Single Black Mothers points out the pains and joys of all mothers, regardless of color, in dozens of imaginative scenes. And who brought the pecan pie? Must you ask?

 

Playright Lisa B. Thompson has a commitment and an almost uncanny gift for describing, embodying, and sharing her lived Black experience with all other ethnicities and cultures. Whatever the source, her writing is very good at showing the world life lived in the Black community.  Fo example, her award-winning Monroe gave an almost ethnographic description of a Black community surviving in Jim Crow times, and how one character used pie-baking as an instrument of ...

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Review: Dance Nation by Theatre en Bloc

Review: Dance Nation by Theatre en Bloc

by David Glen Robinson
Published on August 31, 2019

DANCE NATION is cruel to its subject matter, with a subtheme so strong the work could play as a new Halloween horror show. Many won't "get it" but they'll be entertained by wild and risqué humor. It's not a "woke" play.

 

Dance Nation plays in the same league as Heathers, Pitch Perfect, and Bring It On. The show competes well with them, offering a new set of jokes and gags about teens and sub-teens with team performance circuit dementia, and about their obsessive moms living through their offspring. The complex play, however, is not a one-trick pony, neigh!, but multifaceted and multilayered, with relatively unresolved subplots. Surprises and shocking scenes abound throughout. About two-thirds of ...

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Review: TRANSom by Ground Floor Theatre

Review: TRANSom by Ground Floor Theatre

by David Glen Robinson
Published on August 24, 2019

Direction by Scheps and O'Rear melds cast members' stories of transgender life, enacted as much as told, into a smooth, coherent narrative.

 

Transom is a play about found families and the demands they place on their members to keep them together. This gives the play the dramatic tension that makes for engaging stage presentations. The play being about a family of transgender and gender nonconforming individuals only emphasizes its point that, in its essence, a found family is no different from otherl families.

 

 The cast and most of the production staff are transgender pesons. That ...

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Review: American Blood Song by Trouble Puppet Theatre Company

Review: American Blood Song by Trouble Puppet Theatre Company

by David Glen Robinson
Published on August 11, 2019

Trouble Puppet performs this operetta as a linear tragic narrative, with the company's characteristic innovative unpredictability. Puppeteers wear period costumes and acceptably period hairstyles while singing their characters' roles.

“Crazy cold ‘way down there…”, the memorable line from the 60s band Blood, Sweat, and Tears seems like a prophecy of 2019’s Trouble Puppet Theater Company original production of American Blood Song, A Puppet Operetta of the Donner Party (ABS). The show is about nothing but loss, loss of country, loss of life, loss of possessions, loss of family, loss of mind, loss of self-respect, loss of morality, loss of ethics, loss of faith, loss ...

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Review #2 of 2: ANN, by Zach Theatre

Review #2 of 2: ANN, by Zach Theatre

by Brian Paul Scipione
Published on August 06, 2019

Libby Villari was firing away on all cylinders, creating the feeling of a southern revival in the Topfer Theatre. The audience laughed, pumped up and not afraid to call out with applause and shouts of approval.

There was never any doubt Libby Villari could hold the audience entranced with her snappy accent, comically vitriolic outbursts, clever banter, and engaging storytelling, but this production of Holland Taylor’s Ann is well paired with a great set and spot on lighting design. Lghting designer Sarah EC Maines emphasized the three-act arc of the story -- pre-Governor, Governor, and post-Governor-- with a subtle but deft shi the lightfts between lighting schemes. They evojke the moody but ...

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