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Reviewed by George Basler Put simply, Thorton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth is a play you’ll either love or hate. Written in 1939, and first performed in 1942, the tragicomedy totally rejects naturalism (some would say logic) for abstraction, allegory and absurdity. In short, it’s one of the most bizarre, and polarizing, mainstream dramas ever produced on the American stage. The play was a hit when it first opened on Broadway and won the Pulitzer Prize for drama. But time has not been kind. The Skin of...
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Reviewed by George Basler Over the past 24 years, Binghamton’s KNOW Theatre has established a solid reputation for presenting provocative and/or less well-known plays. Its latest production, Of the Fields, Lately, which opened this past weekend (Feb. 10-12), certainly fits that bill. The slice-of-life family drama, set in 1961, was written by Canadian playwright David French, who, I acknowledge, I had never heard of before. It’s one in a cycle of five, semi-autobiographical plays about the Mercer family, a solidly working-class family from Newfoundland, now living in Toronto. As...
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Reviewed by George Basler The musical 1776 originally opened on Broadway in the midst of the Vietnam War and the hippie era exemplified by Hair, which was running just down the block. The timing meant the show got labeled as a square peg in the round hole of a turbulent era. But while other artifacts of the era -- such as love beads, Nehru jackets and even Hair itself -- now seem comically dated, 1776 retains its freshness and relevancy. S.R.O Productions III’s crisp, well-acted production, which opened Jan....
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Reviewed by George Basler Hold on to your hats: a human tornado in the form of Mama Rose is anchoring an outstanding new production of Gypsy by the Endicott Performing Arts Center Repertory Company. Mama Rose is the centerpiece of the show, and Terri-Jo Ramia gives a blistering performance as the classic stage mother who plays out her own frustrated dreams of fame through the lives of her two children. The rest of the cast is equally good, from the leads to the supporting players to those filling smaller...
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Reviewed by George Basler Mystery is afoot in Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, which opened this past weekend (Oct. 27-30) at the Cider Mill Playhouse in Endicott. But the real mystery is why there aren’t more laughs. Ken Ludwig, the playwright, has written some truly funny farces. One of them, Lend Me a Tenor, was given a first-rate production at the Cider Mill a couple of seasons ago. But his attempt to blend farce with a Sherlock Holmes mystery falls surprisingly flat much of the time. The play...
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By George Basler With a title like The Motherf**ker with the Hat, audiences can probably guess they’re in for a brash, in-your-face evening. And the play, now being given an excellent production by Binghamton University’s Theater Department, is certainly that. But mixed in with the profanity and raw subject matter is a compelling story of flawed people stumbling through life as they cope with their inner demons. Performed in the intimate space of Studio A in the Fine Arts Building, the BU production is shockingly funny at some...
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Reviewed by George Basler Back in 1960, Gore Vidal lobbed a grenade at American politics in the form of his satirical play The Best Man. While the intervening years have made the play seem positively quaint, it still packs some sting in a staged reading being performed this weekend by Southern Tier Actors Read (STAR) at the Phelps Mansion Museum in downtown Binghamton. The play is “somewhat of a period piece,” acknowledged Judy McMahon, STAR’s director, who is in the cast. That means dated. References to Joseph Alsop...
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