Wordless Shakespeare

http://synetictheater.org/event_pages/romeo-and-juliet/

With clocks ticking and gears grinding time away to the inevitable, Synetic’s Romeo and Juliet is a tour de force in movement. Synced perfectly with appropriate but discordant music (fair warning if your ears cannot abide it) and creative lighting and staging effects, the performance was 80 minutes of innovative action: exuberant physicality that was more like the Jets vs the Sharks albeit in classic costume. How do the opposing forces roll and roil, faint and fall without a sound? Meanwhile, the doomed Romeo and Juliet dance and bend and yield to each other with fiery grace and urgent passion in silhouette, behind billowing white sheets. Leave it to Paata and Irina Twikurishvili to create a silent Shakespeare production that leaves you enthralled and entertained. You know the story. Here love and hate resound silently within the crushing gears of a giant clock. In Paata’s “Shakespeare beyond words” physical vitality is all you need to enjoy the performance. At Synetic Theater in Crystal City until March 27th.

A Rambling Rant

I love Al Pacino so when my
dinner plans were cancelled at the last minute, I decided to check out David
Mamet’s new play, “China Doll,” on
the recommendation of a friend.

I expected fine acting and a
thought-provoking play from Mamet, but with the exception of a few clever lines
that drew audience applause especially in reference to politicians, the ranting
from Pacino’s unlikable, white-haired old character mostly put me to
sleep.  Not Pacino’s fault entirely. At
two plus hours, the script was repetitive and Pacino is basically in monologue
mode. There’s only one other actor on stage with him who serves as his
ambitious but milquetoast aid. As great an actor as Pacino is, the material is
tough.

At times it seemed phoned
in. Which is funny since the whole play is mostly Pacino talking on the phone
through his Bluetooth earpiece to imaginary people on the line: his much
younger fiancée, his lawyer, and his business connections. But we never hear their side of the
conversation.

Pacino’s character, Mickey
Ross, rants and raves and apologizes. He’s old. He’s rich. He’s self-absorbed. And
he just bought a $60 million plane for his fiancée to secure her affection. He
also has some rivalry going on with his former mentor’s son who’s running for
governor.  This part of the script was
indecipherable. And most of the one-sided dialogue was irrelevant. Sad to say, even
Pacino’s talent wasn’t enough.

Spoiler alert: At the end he
does a nasty deed with his model plane. It all seems absurd. As does the life
of Mickey Ross and this play. Its limited engagement mercifully ends Jan. 31.

Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W. 45th St.

chinadollbroadway.com

Dirty Dancing at the National Theater

Feel good, familiar experience. Energetic dancing. Follows the movie without trying to do more. Well-acted and great songs though the acoustics were a little off, and the orchestra drowned out one of the female singers who has an outstanding voice. Would have liked to hear her more than the music. Fun evening though, and the stage set was outstanding–worth seeing for that alone.  In DC until Sept 14, then touring the US: http://us.dirtydancingontour.com/tickets/tour-tickets/

Daniel Craig Has a Very Good Hair Day

Who would betray Daniel Craig? He’s so hot in “Betrayal” now on Broadway, and that hair! I don’t recall being so enamored of him on film even as James Bond, but in person. Oh that hair!  I did love watching him on stage with his real-life wife, the stunning Rachel Weisz, but I think he was miscast. He should have played the lover not the husband.

This revival of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal directed by Mike Nichols runs through Jan. 5. For me it had the “So what?” factor. At 90 minutes and no intermission, probably the best thing about it after Craig.

The structure of this tale of marital infidelity goes backward in time—perhaps once clever and a provocative device of fading memory—accomplishes nothing artistic now. Add one uncomfortable sex scene that borders on violence, along with a bit of comedy. Again, So what? Still, if you already have tickets, there is the hot (f)actor.

www.betrayalbroadway.com/

A Wicked Delight

Bette Midler is diva perfect in I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers. Screenwriter and playwright John Logan (Skyfall, Red) wastes no words, and Midler as Mengers minces none. In a one-way conversation, Midler takes us on a delicious romp through Mengers’ life. The setting is Mengers’ living room, circa Hollywood 1981, where Midler dressed in a sparkling, ice blue muumuu, seats as a queen on her sofa and keeps her audience in thrall with every nuanced star gesture. Waving fingers and shifting her body, Midler is Mengers with every flick of the hair, raise of the eyebrow, and pout of her lips.

The audience has a grand time as they might have during one of Mengers A-list parties back in the day when she was the aggressive, witty, and biting superstar agent. Best play I’ve seen in ages, and best use of profanity-laced writing without being gratuitous. Directed by Joe Mantello, it’s ninety minutes of sheer entertainment with a just a twinge of bittersweet nostalgia and regret for time passing. See it on Broadway at the Booth Theater just till June 30th. Or as Charles Isherwood says in his NYTimes review, “race” over there to see Midler, “who gives the most lusciously entertaining performance of the Broadway season.”

Splash Dance

Synetic’s production of The Tempest tempts the fates in a swimmingly brilliant piece of theater and choreography. The stage set sits in a four-inch pool of water where multimedia effects illuminate Shakespeare’s magical island tale. The athleticism of the actors as they splash through Prospero’s stormy, shipwrecked world confounds and entertains.  If you’re in DC, don’t miss this theatrical adventure in Synetic’s Silent Shakespeare series. It’s liquid gold.