Theater Review. “The Young Man From Atlanta”.

‘The Young Man from Atlanta’
An Unwanted Guest.

Robert Massimi is a member of The Dramatists Guild.

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Robert Massimi.

In what is Horton Foote’s second attempt at making The Young Man from Atlanta a success in New York, The Signature Theater opened this show Saturday evening in the hopes of greater success. The first version of this show, even though it won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for drama, wasn’t quite what it needed to be. Not until two years later, by which time it had been rewritten and recast, did The Young Man from Atlanta finally move from off Broadway to Broadway. Even then, it failed to have a long run. Foote’s studies of Southern family life never had gone over big on Broadway. With Foote’s A Trip to Bountiful, audiences began to realize his work was different and not as forward leaning in his plot structure.

In all its iterations The Young Man from Atlanta, whose principal characters were all seen earlier in Mr. Foote’s Orphans, is a study in disappointment. It is 1950 and Americans are optimistic about the future and Will Kidder (Aidan Quinn), a 60ish small-town boy who moved to Houston as a young man to chase the American dream, suddenly finds himself at a loss. Will has lost his job at a horrible time, he just sank most of his capital into his new house. It is also at this time that he discovers that Bill, his only son, died under suspicious circumstances, was gay, and his partner has now come to Houston in hope of getting money out of Will and his naive wife, Lily Dale (Kristine Nielsen). The combined stress of these occurrences causes Will to suffer a heart attack.

In what may seem to the audience as inconclusive, Horton Foote has always been less interested in spectacular eventfulness than in a softer, gentler studies of character. With Foote you get no show — stopping confrontations, no wild rambling actors, only control and calmness. Indeed, Bill’s partner, the title character, never appears on stage, nor is the nature of his relationship, with Bill made explicit. Mr. Foote’s interest is in people like Will, whom he describes in his program note as optimistic, hardworking and confident.

Mr. Foote, like Thorton Wilder, is about his storytelling. Like Wilder, Mr. Foote believes devoutly in the significance of the smallest events in one’s daily life, eschewing melodrama to focus instead on how ordinary people cope with life’s struggles. Foote has his characters get by and deal with anything that comes there way; even if one has to do so by turning their faces from the truth. “There was a Bill I knew and a Bill you knew and that’s the only Bill I care to know about”, Will tells Lily Dale at play’s end, leaving us in no doubt that he has deliberately chosen to know nothing more about the son he never really knew at all.

Director Michael Wilson has directed many of Foote’s plays and knows how to bring all the actors in tight to create the subtleties that is Horton Foote’s writing. Wilson creates an uncanny way in which he shows us a play as if not being performed but rather watching life unfold before our eyes. Mr. Wilson and his cast makes every moment of The Young Man from Atlanta seem natural and believable. Mr. Quinn’s performance is so natural and believable that it is almost impossible to think of him on a stage acting; rather we think of him as a person in real time going through many difficulties in his life.

Theater Review. “Bread And Puppet”

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Bread and Puppet
From The Radical,To The Absurd.

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Robert Massimi.

Bread and Puppet has been around since 1963. It was founded by Peter Schumann as a way of using puppet shows as a good versus the bad. Schumann’s belief was that the art of puppetry helps women, men and children overcome the established order and the obsessive submission to its politics and consequent brutalities.

In 1963 Peter Schumann began Bread and Puppet on the Lower East Side (The East Village) in New York City, New York. During the Vietnam War, Bread and Puppet held block-long processions and pageants. Set in one of the most radical places in the United States, Bread and Puppet was able to move about putting forth its subversive views of the world.

In 1974, Bread and Puppet moved from The Lower East Side of Manhattan to Glover Vermont. A 140 year old hay barn was turned into a museum for veteran puppets. Until 1998, Bread and Puppet hosted a Domestic Resurrection Circus, a two day outdoor festival of puppetry shows. The show was cancelled thereafter due to fights and rowdy behavior.

The newest Bread and Puppet show put on last evening was “Diagonal Life Circus”. What was disappointing about this show (many disappointments here), was that it lacked the puppetry that one has come to expect when seeing Bread and Puppet. Flanked with a very good band, the show began with some deft puppetry but then the next thirty minutes had very little. Rather, Bread and Puppet went with other props and a vast awry of absurdity blended with some “Political Facts” that were anything but. One skit went off on Richard Nixon in regards to Chile. This was very confusing being that Bread and Puppet is a liberal, radical Theater Company. According to great scholars like Noam Chomsky, another radical, socialist, Atheist, Nixon was the most liberal president post World War 11; it made no sense that a “cutting edge” Theater group would relive their happy past with Nixon.

In what tries to be cutting edge radical, Bread and Puppet lives way in the past with its politics. With so much more they could go on…. global warming (now called climate change); the they movement for women or men that do not want to be identified as either or; gender neutral; the woke movement; the current president that the left loves to bash; the slogan and mantra of The Theater For The New City “we are all immigrants”. So much for the left to choose, so little time with the climate about to end time. With last nights performance, it strikes me that Bread and Puppet is tired, it once had national and international acclaim, but it seems that a lot of its audience is there as a rememberance to what it was, or, maybe to see the puppets, the very big puppets.

The music that Bread and Puppet puts on is really good. Songs from yesteryear and some really good musicians actually make this slow and sorrowful show bearable. At one hour and ten minutes long, Bread and Puppet would have done well if it had more puppetry and less dialogue in it’s show. The pageantry and regalia of these big puppets is worth the price of admission. The verbiage of the Rain Forrest and Chile and the indigenous South Americans from long ago is really immaterial to the audience. Since it is Bread and Puppets mission to bring forth radical politics, maybe they would be better off hitting China instead. To go back to the by-gone era of Nixon is just Schumann trying to get back to the glory days of love and piece at Height and Asbury… the tie dyed shirts and the acid trips. Too anyone who is even attuned to today’s politics or yesterday’s history, Bread and Puppet does not really bring anything interesting to the table other than it is back in one of the most radical theater spots in New York City… The Theater For The New City which is run like a glorified homeless shelter but for the downtrodden of theater trying to be someone in theater.

Dance Review. “Nutcracker”.

“Where Are We Now”
Sven Ratzke Sings The Great David Bowie.

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Robert Massimi.

“Where Are We Now” is a cabaret like tribe to David Bowie sung magnificently by Sven Ratzke. In between songs, Ratzke is both amusing and poignant about Bowie’s life, who the man was and how he became such an icon. The show is two hours long and it hits on most of Bowie’s career. Ratzke’s song depth, his cadence makes you feel like you are seeing Bowie himself. With only a grand piano on stage, Christian Pabst and Sven Ratzke hammer out some of David Bowie’s best songs. From the opening song “The Man Who Sold The World” to its ending of “Life On Mars”, this performance is sheer delight.

Born in Brixton, South London, David Robert Jones, AKA David Bowie had an interest in music, art and design at an early age. In 1969, “Space Oddity” became his first top-five entry on the UK Singles Chart. In 1972, during the flamboyant glam rock era, Bowie emerged as his alter ego Ziggy Stardust. In 1975, Bowie shifted into “plastic Soul”, it at first alienated his devoted fans, but won him U.S. success with the songs “Fame” and Young Americans”. Shortly afterwards, Bowie would move to Berlin and release his trilogy…. the Low” album; “Heroes” in 1977 and” Lodger” in 1979; each album received lasting and critical praise.

In the 1980’s, Bowie released “Ashes To Ashes” and “Under Pressure”, a collaboration with Queen. 1983 saw his commercial peak with the release of “Let’s Dance”. David Bowie was also known as a very good film actor. Starring in “The Man Who Fell To Earth”; “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence”; “Labyrinth”; “The Prestige” in 2006 among other movies, television appearances and cameos. David Bowie is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.Bowie also was critically acclaimed for his role on Broadway in “The Elephant Man”. David Bowie is also considered to be a first rate painter.

In 2013, Bowie returned from a decade- long recording hiatus with “The Next Day”. He remained musically active until his death in 2016 with the release of “Darkstar” two days before his death.

David Bowie was a humble man, he turned down BOE , a British Knighthood as well as many other awards that England wanted to bestow on him. The last twenty plus years, Davis Bowie lived In New York City, London and upstate New York. David Bowie often said his three favorite places were: London, New York and Berlin. Never one to be open about his thoughts, a mostly guarded man, David Bowie was politically conservative. After accepting an award he said to Scotland “Don’t leave us”, meaning he wished for the United Kingdom to stay in tact. For the few who knew him, David Bowie was an old fashioned English gentleman and his political beliefs favored the Torres.

“Where Are We Now” plays at LaMaMa till December 21st. It should not be missed. Played in a cool basement theater, Sven Ratzke spins the music like a magician. His passion for this great singer is evident through his singing. His kind words about this special man speaks volumes about his respect for a legend. His songs sung; “Space Oddity”; “The Wall” and his German- American version of “Heros” were galant in the first act.

The second act had many of Bowie’s staples such as; “Hello Spaceboy”; “Where Are We Now”; “The Jean Genie”; “Ashes To Ashes” and “Absolute Beginners”. Like David Bowie; Sven Ratzke was cool, smooth and gracious to his audience. Sven Ratzke was at all times lite and funny, poignant with a leaning toward reverence.

Theater Review. “Judgement Day”.

“Judgement Day”
Dealing With The Herd Mentality.

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Robert Massimi.

“Judgement Day” has many lessons to be learned in it. The body of the play and its core nexus, however, is how people are; whether it be in Germany pre World War, or Timbuktu. In a small town in Germany, people are negative; the economy has slowed to a crawl, few have good jobs, (although throughout the play, few have many worries). One of the few good jobs left in this small German town is that of the Station Master, Thomas Hudetz (Luke Kirby). Hudetz is diligent, hard working and a dedicated employee of the German Government. In a small town where everyone knows your business, he is both liked and felt sorry for. Thomas Hudetz married a woman thirteen years older than himself. Frau Hudetz is emotionally unstable and demanding of her younger husband. Unable to have a social life, we never fully know as an audience how and even if this has had any effect on him.

In what is a superbly executed play, the beautiful Park Avenue Armory, with it’s massive stage, put forth a great production about a train accident that was more than just eighteen people getting killed. “Judgement Day’s” underlying message delt more about people than great lighting, stage settings and Direction. Lighting designer Mimi Jordan Sherin amazed the audience with the train scenes and they were both innovative and incredible. The lights made the trains fly bye; Daniel Kluger added to this with incredible Sound Design and the awesome feeling of these behemoth machines. Feeling the trains go bye in real time, we were able to fully settle into the accident that occured because it was so real and affecting to each and every audience member.

Anthony McDonald’s Costumes were equally effective as to the time period and how we saw each and every character in this deep and exciting play. From the bar maids at “The Wild Man Inn”; Thomas Hudetz’s meticulous costume, degraded like he was; to what he became, from what he was. Not rich people but working class people, they have a sense of pride about who they are and what they do to make their town the best that it can be. The towns people’s cloths may be old but they are well kept. More to a superficial upkeep, what is on the outside far superseeds what is in the inside of these people.

In a town that is unforgiving; people waiting to pounce on each and every person for what is seen as an afrontary to the masses, people move sheepishly, they move cautiously. Any rumor can put a person on the chin wagging rumor mill. This town is so vicious that it holds family members as well to task. When Frau Hudetz was accused of perjury, her brother, Alfons (Henry Stram) was also outcasted in the town as well. A pharmacist who like Thomas is a loyal person. He is loyal to his sister as well as his brother-in- law. Alfons avoids the gossip in town, goes about his business and always is willing to help other people.

In a play that takes you along for the ride, this play moves along at a great pace, the ninety minutes; seven scenes are all interesting and attention grabbing. The actors are all excellent in their roles and the production is first rate, something we have become accustomed to at The Armory. The massive sets are able to bring the reality of these people to life, to the forefront. What seems like a town that is open to embrace outsiders, or even insiders is anything but. Much like today, these people almost seem at the ready to destroy their neighbor without any proof or concrete evidence as to what really happened.

“Judgement Day” runs till January 10, 2020.

Richard Jones Directs

Written by Odon von Horvath.

theater Review. The Thin Place.

“The Thin Place”
Spooky Thin.

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Robert Massimi.

“The Thin Place” is a show that deals with Medians talking to the dead. The Median is a go- between, if you will. Hilda (Emily Cass McDonnell) is a person as a child was taught “The Gift” by her grandmother who was a psychic. Much to the chagrin of her mother who thought Median behavior, or any psychic behavior was demonic and should not be practised. Plays like “The Thin Place” are intriguing to an audience because done right, it can stay with you for a very long time.

After Hilda’s death, she meets Linda (Randy Danson), a Median who is as funny as she is forthcoming. Hilda has become very intrigued with linda’s profession and sees her regularly. Linda at times is friendly toward Hilda; hostile, a foe and combative with her during the performance. Linda wards off the most obvious question that Hilda wants to know: is she for real? Linda like many psychics tries to avoid being called a charlitian, a fraud; she just wants to practise her craft in peace and go about her business.

Lucas Hnath who has written some really good plays :”The Christians” (Obie Award for Playwriting) and “A Doll’s House, Part 2” (2017 Tony Award nomination for Best Play); has thrown up two stinkers back to back. “Hillary and Clinton” and now “The Thin Place”. Like “Hillary and Clinton”, “The Thin Game” is just that, thin. Hnath takes us nowhere in this play. Under industrial lighting for seventy minutes (Mark Barton), the lights drop completely, (with the exception of an infrared light). Barton tries to create an eerie effect, however, the writing does not let the audience enjoy this, nor the sound effects (Christian Frederickson).

Hnath’s work over the years has brought him much notoriety both on and off Broadway. His works at New York Theater Workshop and Soho Rep brought as many accolades as “Doll’s House” at the John Golden Theater. The risk of a play like this is that if it doesn’t resonate with the audience, the audience starts to skirm and look around like they were doing last evening. In “The Christians” as well as “A Doll’s House”, Hnath was spot on in his message; the dark sides came out clear. In “The Thin Place”, Hnath’s plot, his message was all over the place. He set’s up the play in the beginning pretty well but then delves into a woman in Denmark who is filthy rich but lives modestly.

Hnath also never establishes his two other characters in the play. Sylvia (Kelly McAndrew) and Jerry (Triney Sandoval) have no real role in this play. Sylvia is a friend of Linda’s, she gives Linda money at times and we never fully know why. Jerry is a cousin of Linda’s, he gets her a Visa and we don’t know how he did it, where he works or what his background is. The ninety intermission less minutes go around in circles and lead to nowhere important.

The crux of “The Thin Place” is Hilda wanting to know her grandmother from the other side; if the play stayed on soley that it could have been really good. Instead, Hnath brings Hilda’s mother into the play and he does so loosely, very loosely. Like Jerry and Sylvia, we never get to know hardly anything about the mother whats-so-ever. At the end of the play the audience has little idea why Hilda is reaching out for her mother since their relationship was lukewarm at best.

Under Les Waters Direction, “The Thin Place” get’s thin real fast and leaves the audience very bored.

Got You Gun Control… Right Here!

looking back on violence in 2019 notes that California has more gun control than any state yet witnessed the most “mass slayings” of any state.

The AP notes that most most slayings “barely became national news, failing to resonate among the general public because they didn’t spill into public places.” They point to the El Paso, Texas, shooting; the Dayton, Ohio, shooting, and others as examples of mass slayings that did make news and captured attention nationally.

Robert Massimi.
One thing liberals have not figured out yet is that bad guys will always get guns. Preventing us from guns is The New World Order in full effect. Guy’s like liberal Mike Bloomberg and George Soros want to take your guns; your constitutional rights away from you. The fact is that bad people kill and we need guns to protect ourselves.

They define such slayings “as when four or more people are killed excluding the perpetrator.” They report a total of 41 such slayings nationally in 2019, some of which were carried out with axes, knives, and other non-firearms, while 33 were firearm-related.

The AP reports that “California, with some of the most strict gun laws in the country, had the most, with eight such mass slayings.”

Down Range with AWR Hawkins. Sign up today!
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California has universal background checks, gun registration requirements, gun confiscation laws, a 10-day waiting period on gun purchases, an “assault weapons” ban, a one-handgun-a-month purchase limit, a ban on campus carry for self-defense, and a ban on teachers being armed to shoot back if under attack. They also require would-be gun buyers to acquire a safety certificate from the state before being allowed to make a gun purchase.

California has ammunition controls as well.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com. Sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.

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Theater Review.

“The Thin Place”
Spooky Thin.

Click to update image
Add a caption (optional)
Robert Massimi.

“The Thin Place” is a show that deals with Medians talking to the dead. The Median is a go- between, if you will. Hilda (Emily Cass McDonnell) is a person as a child was taught “The Gift” by her grandmother who was a psychic. Much to the chagrin of her mother who thought Median behavior, or any psychic behavior was demonic and should not be practised. Plays like “The Thin Place” are intriguing to an audience because done right, it can stay with you for a very long time.

After Hilda’s death, she meets Linda (Randy Danson), a Median who is as funny as she is forthcoming. Hilda has become very intrigued with linda’s profession and sees her regularly. Linda at times is friendly toward Hilda; hostile, a foe and combative with her during the performance. Linda wards off the most obvious question that Hilda wants to know: is she for real? Linda like many psychics tries to avoid being called a charlitian, a fraud; she just wants to practise her craft in peace and go about her business.

Lucas Hnath who has written some really good plays :”The Christians” (Obie Award for Playwriting) and “A Doll’s House, Part 2” (2017 Tony Award nomination for Best Play); has thrown up two stinkers back to back. “Hillary and Clinton” and now “The Thin Place”. Like “Hillary and Clinton”, “The Thin Game” is just that, thin. Hnath takes us nowhere in this play. Under industrial lighting for seventy minutes (Mark Barton), the lights drop completely, (with the exception of an infrared light). Barton tries to create an eerie effect, however, the writing does not let the audience enjoy this, nor the sound effects (Christian Frederickson).

Hnath’s work over the years has brought him much notoriety both on and off Broadway. His works at New York Theater Workshop and Soho Rep brought as many accolades as “Doll’s House” at the John Golden Theater. The risk of a play like this is that if it doesn’t resonate with the audience, the audience starts to skirm and look around like they were doing last evening. In “The Christians” as well as “A Doll’s House”, Hnath was spot on in his message; the dark sides came out clear. In “The Thin Place”, Hnath’s plot, his message was all over the place. He set’s up the play in the beginning pretty well but then delves into a woman in Denmark who is filthy rich but lives modestly.

Hnath also never establishes his two other characters in the play. Sylvia (Kelly McAndrew) and Jerry (Triney Sandoval) have no real role in this play. Sylvia is a friend of Linda’s, she gives Linda money at times and we never fully know why. Jerry is a cousin of Linda’s, he gets her a Visa and we don’t know how he did it, where he works or what his background is. The ninety intermission less minutes go around in circles and lead to nowhere important.

The crux of “The Thin Place” is Hilda wanting to know her grandmother from the other side; if the play stayed on soley that it could have been really good. Instead, Hnath brings Hilda’s mother into the play and he does so loosely, very loosely. Like Jerry and Sylvia, we never get to know hardly anything about the mother whats-so-ever. At the end of the play the audience has little idea why Hilda is reaching out for her mother since their relationship was lukewarm at best.

Under Les Waters Direction, “The Thin Place” get’s thin real fast and leaves the audience very bored.