African Simplicity?

04.24.2005 | Cassandra Johnson | Theater
"Too serious isn’t serious at all," Tierno Bokar advises the audience. Nor does it make for very dramatic theater.

Equal Portions of Black Soup

03.29.2005 | Cassandra Johnson | Theater
With time and some detachment, it emerges that Karl Marx may have been at once all too human — excessive, rash and self-obsessed — and too detached from life and suffering for his own great plan. It is is this Marx who is evoked in Jonathan Leaf’s The Germans in Paris -- continually on the defense, living in fear, and suffering from a bit of moral Tartuffery to boot.

A Glorious Gory Grotesque

03.18.2005 | Cassandra Johnson | Theater | 1 Comment
The admixture of pleasure and fear is what entertains; the menace and dread hidden beneath the floorboards of light language and my mother’s saccharine voice as she read to me about big bad wolves dressed up like grandma.

An Intoxicating Hurlyburly

03.13.2005 | Cassandra Johnson | Theater
Walking into the theater to find Ethan Hawke passed out on a couch, his rear exposed, was just the beginning of an evening of great licentious entertainment.

Our Man's Latest Masterpiece

The latest play from New Partisan’s own Jonathan Leaf, The Germans In Paris, opens tonight. It’s a funny, fast-paced story — based on real events — about three Parisian women and three German intellectuals. One of these Germans was a poet named Heinrich Heine. Another was an unknown journalist of whom the world would hear more — Karl Marx. The last was the composer Richard Wagner. The play — which received detailed coverage this week in Variety and in Playbill — will be running for three weeks with fifteen performances in all, so you’ve got no excuse not to be there, especially after James Wood deemed Leaf’s Pushkin: A Verse Tragedythe best verse play in English since Shakespeare.” Here’s the pertinent information:

March 11 at 8 pm, March 12 At 8 pm, March 13 at 3 pm, March 16 at 8 pm, March 17 At 8 pm, March 18 at 8 pm, March 19 at 2pm and 8 pm, March 20 AT 3 pm, March 23 at 8 pm, March 24 at 8 pm, March 25 At 8 pm, March 26 AT 2 pm & At 8 pm. The Location is 59 East 59th Street (btwn. Madison and Park Avenues) in Theater C. Tickets are $15 and can be ordered from Ticket Central or at 212-279-4200. Tell them New Partisan sent you.

Walls and Other Perils of Democracy

03.6.2005 | Cassandra Johnson | Theater
Democracy's characters are all political men, who must act in front of one another. Perhaps it was no accident that as the performers declared and commented on their lines, I was constantly reminded that I was "at the theatre".

Narkissos on the Moon

02.25.2005 | Cassandra Johnson | Theater
The human mentality hasn’t evolved so much since Galileo -- most people still consider themselves the central thing around which all others revolve.

Brutal Beauty -- Richard Foreman's Lunatic Attic

02.12.2005 | Cassandra Johnson | Theater
Gods lingers over the tension between man’s primitive hunger for food and sex and his desire, as Aristotle has it, “to stretch himself out towards knowing.” This tension informs the irony of an experimental artist nostalgic for tradition, putting on a little nightmarish and wishful play, a diaspora of language and images, that longs for simplicity, order, and ritual.

Vows Made in Wine -- The Halls' "As You Like it"

02.4.2005 | Cassandra Johnson | Theater
“As You Like It” is a relativist statement, a reply to any number of absolutist queries. How should I love? How should I worship? How should I vote? The answer: As you like it.

Identity Crisis

01.29.2005 | Cassandra Johnson | Theater
Imagine finding out that the people you’ve always known as mom and dad aren’t your biological parents, and that you have a twin you’ve never met. Now try to imagine that you have a clone. Actually, nineteen of them, and you’re in the world of A Number, which takes identity crises to the Nth degree.

Unwound Dolls -- Adapting Three Sisters

01.22.2005 | Cassandra Johnson | Theater
The play began with extreme, indulgent, vulgar, drunken offstage laughter so real and prolonged that it soon spread to the audience, making for one of those great moments when performers and spectators are unexpectedly united.

A Worthwhile Celebration

01.15.2005 | Cassandra Johnson | Theater
A festival dedicated to “Celebrating Women” naturally conjures fears of the cliché and over-earnest performance art about anatomy that bores any honest audience lest it is shown the body parts in question.

The Affleckization of Hollywood

09.27.2004 | Jonathan Leaf | Film, Theater | 3 Comments
In Reindeer Games Affleck was so limp that audiences rooted for Gary Sinise's sneering, over-the-top villain, while in Gigli, he managed to be more cloddish and less engaging than a co-star playing a retarded person. And that's not to mention Paycheck, the most aptly titled movie in film history.

Concerning the Famous Ghost Monologues

...and if that's not enough, it features the following Partisans: Richard O'Keeffe as a Union soldier, Adam Chimera as a disfigured dandy, A.R. Brook Lynn as a mobster's cousin, and Hala Lettieri as an Italian war bride.

Lynn and Lettieri.

Our Man on Marx, Zinn and Socialism

05.11.2004 | Richard O'Keeffe | Theater | 11 Comments
Marx on the Jews: "What is the worldly cult of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly god? Money? ... Money is the jealous god of Israel, besides which no other god may exist."

Our Man on Robbins' Embedded

04.22.2004 | David L. Steinhardt | Theater | 3 Comments
Maybe I simply got over my shock at Straussian thinking too long ago, when my darling schoolchum John Podhoretz muttered after dinner one night twenty years ago, "I don't really believe in open government."

Our Playwright Argues That Theater Is The New Opera

03.8.2004 | Jonathan Leaf | Theater
Non-profit institutions tend to be led by people who prefer high-toned pretensions to better work that is absent of pretense. (Think of the wealth of bad, modern, nearly atonal operas that have been staged in recent decades.) The danger to the theater is that we'll have more Charles Mee, Mac Wellman and Bertolt Brecht -- not that we won't have a theater.