Posts Tagged ‘karen allen’

TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE: “A Summer Day” & “House for Sale”

October 26th, 2012 Comments off

Get caught up with what’s on stage with our review round-up. And that vaguely hollow, clinking sound you hear at the end of each segment? That’s me tossing in my two cents.

This week, by chance, I saw two off-broadway plays back-to-back that similarly stray beyond traditional dramatic language and provide interesting challenges for both the performers and the audience. While they might not be for everyone (as the divisive reviews attest), they certainly might be right for those looking for adventures beyond traditional Broadway fare…

Karen Allen in "A Summer Day". Photo by Sandra Coudert.


Sarah Cameron Sunde translates and directs a new play by acclaimed Norwegian writer Jon Fosse, about a woman–played by Raiders of the Lost Ark‘s Karen Allen–trapped in memories of one tragic day.

“…a quietly brutal little work that turns a romantic cliché into a sentence of existential doom (or freedom, depending on your mind-set).” New York Times

A Summer Day succeeds in touching the audience without making any effort to seduce it.” New York Post

“Fosse’s abstract technique may be an acquired taste, even in this 90-minute dose, but the welcome return of Karen Allen to the New York stage is a treat not to be missed.” Associated Press

“Like everything else in this slender narrative, the point is simply stated, over and over, in scene after scene, in increasingly melodramatic language. And calling it poetry doesn’t make it any less deadly.” Variety

Mizer’s Two Cents:  With its repetitive, purposefully simplistic dialogue, this play perfectly captures the circling cadences of someone obsessively going over and over a single event…but the question becomes, no matter how poetically achieved and accurate the effect, do you want to spend an hour and a half inside that static, grief-stricken mindset? I, for one, found it moving, though I did have to adjust my tempo and expectations so as not to look for traditional dramatic arcs or conflict driven outbursts. My theater companion for the evening, less impressed, said, “I admired it but I can’t say that I liked it.”

My admiration for Karen Allen’s performance, however, is unqualified. With an achingly open vulnerability, she gently pulls the audience into her confessional and handles the challenge of the language with touching ease–where some of the other actors push to differentiate the intentions behind their repeated, banal phrases. And when, toward the end of the play, Ms. Allen smiles, she is all at once the young woman of hope and the lost older woman–both reaching out for someone to hold.

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“Once” Explodes, “Assassins” Guns for a Return & More Theater News

August 24th, 2012 Comments off

Lauren Molina & Jason Tam. Photo by Win Lubin.

I’m back from my hiatus only to discover that the theater world continued on without me. The nerve! So let’s catch up with a few of the biggest stories in a slam bang news round-up…

  • Certain theater producers better be buying everybody rounds of drinks at Bar Centrale this week, because two Broadway shows announced they have officially recouped their investments. The Tony-winning Best Musical Once and the imported farce One Man, Two Gov’nors are now playing for profit, baby. (Might I suggest that if you see a show with “three” in the title, you invest in it right now.)
  • Broadway Cast of "Assassins". Photo by Joan Marcus.

    Speaking of number one with a bullet, my favorite under-appreciated  Sondheim score, Assassins, will be heard again in New York at a one night only benefit performance for the Roundabout Musical Theatre Program. The cast of the acclaimed 2004 revival–including the snoggable Neil Patrick Harris and the divine Denis O’Hare–will reunite on December 3 for a reading of the gorgeously twisted show.

  • While we’re on a Sondheim binge (“More hot pies!”), the Keen Company announced the cast for their upcoming revival of the revue Marry Me a Little. Starting Septemeber 11, the lovely Lauren Molina and the, well, lovely Jason Tam will be singing a host of Uncle Steve’s best including trunk song rarities like “Rainbows” from the much delayed film version of Into the Woods.
  • I don’t know about you but I wanted to be Karen Allen (Raiders of the Lost Ark) when I grew up. I mean, seriously, she could handle her whiskey and she got to kiss Harrison Ford. She also happens to be a compelling actress with theatrical credits beyond her 80’s blockbuster film resume. All this is a long-winded way of saying that Ms. Allen will be starring in a new play, A Summer Day by Jon Fosse, starting October 10 at the Cherry Lane Theater. Don’t let anything (say, huge rolling boulders or a temple full of snakes) get in your way of seeing it.
  • And while we’re thinking of Indiana Jones (go with me), the opening sequence in the second film in that series not only started with a big musical number but it took place in Shanghai…which, according to the New York Times, is now the proposed home for a multi-billion dollar entertainment complex intended to “to rival the Broadway theater district in New York and the West End in London.” (Yeah, even my head hurts trying to follow that segue.) The project, expected to be completed by 2016, is a joint initiative between Chinese partners and the folks at Dreamworks Animation SKG (Spielberg! See, it’s all connected).