Theatre reviews: A Guide to the Newly Dead, Hansel & Gretel, and The Amish Project
by Perry Tannenbaum (posted on Fri, Nov 1, 2013 at 4:30 PM)
No fewer than three companies were offering quickie plays last weekend, all clocking in at 55-67 minutes and richly deserving praise – though some also merited a modicum of caution. The most eagerly awaited was the return of Machine Theatre to Duke Energy Theater with Matt Cosper’s newest foray into the comically surreal, A Guide to the Newly Dead. Rarely have I seen the slick and the shambling so perfectly wed.
I’ll need to defer judgment on Cosper’s marriage of outlandish absurdism and genuine intimate confessions. That’s because Newly Dead is Episode 2 of a three-part narrative, Bohemian Grove, which began unfolding this past spring at UpStage in a co-production with PaperHouse Theatre. In the hurly-burly of Passover, I missed Who Shot Carmella? so I can’t tell you how well – or if – Newly Dead connects with the previous episode. We get Episode 3: Tuba next March and, in May, The Box Set, “a long form performance created from all three episodes.”
“…we’re in a weird Mayberry-Meets-the-Wolfman world…”
That’s a fairly broad hint from Cosper that all three parts of Bohemian Grove are likely to evolve further before they’re Machine-packaged. Cosper credits himself with conceiving and directing the show, it should be noted, while “The Machinists” are designated as the creators and performers. Group improvisation plays a role in Machine’s developing script, yet there’s one little oasis where the actors sit down for an underworld group therapy session, and all four characters shed their theatre masks, each taking on the performer’s true name as he or she offers up a personal reflection. Continue reading Three One-Acts That Didn’t Quite Click