Brecht’s “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” is a diverting ironic commentary on greed and corruption

Bertolt Brecht’s 1944 play with music – almost a chamber opera – is an ironic parody about selflessness and greed. As the narrator puts it, “Terrible is the temptation to do good.” Classic Stage director Brian Kulick helms a strong production laced with Brecht’s irony, colored by caricatures and riven by strong performances. In his conception, the plays begins at the turn of the last century and ends with the collapse of Soviet communism.

“Women of Will” a bravura performance showing how Shakespeare changed his women characters

Sometimes Tina Packer’s “Women of Will” seems like a bravura performance by a very talented actress. Other times it is a university course by a master teacher. In fact, it is both, an artistically and intellectually stimulating event. I delighted in Packer’s ability to shift seamlessly from characters, who are in turn supine, ingratiating, furious and sultry. At the same time I was fascinated by her revelation of how Shakespeare changed in his development of major women characters.

The imaginary cursing woman in Nora Ephron’s “Lucky Guy”

There is a fake character in Nora Ephron’s “Lucky Guy.” She is a foul-mouthed Newsday reporter, a woman whose cursing outdoes all the men. Such a female reporter didn’t exist. Quite the reverse: some male reporters at Newsday were so obscenely abusive to the women, that they protested, and the paper’s editor intervened. How could Ephron get this part of her story so wrong?

In “Ann,” Holland Taylor smartly channels Texas Governor Ann Richards

George W. Bush’s victory over Texas Governor Ann Richards was a tragedy of national dimensions. We know the Bush presidential disaster that stepping stone led to. But this production focuses on what Texas lost when Richards left office. Not only did she have better politics, but she was a superior human being. She made it on her own, without a “silver foot” in her mouth. And she cared about ordinary people, not the 1%.

“Old Hats” is a charming funny take on life by two sophisticated clowns

Old time clowns are modern again. At least when they are as sophisticated and clever as Bill Irwin and David Shiner. There’s a lot about “Old Hats” that seems pretty new. The techno projections, for example. Top-hatted Irwin and Shiner appear confused as they wander in a tunnel, smoke swirling around them. We see it on video. It’s telling us that technology will be a theme of their very witty performance– sometimes technology gone wrong. Or misunderstood.