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‘June, 2016’

“Radiant Vermin” a biting bloody fable about the rich and the poor

“Radiant Vermin” a biting bloody fable about the rich and the poor

Think of Philip Ridley’s play as a Gulliver’s “modest proposal” for furnishing your home. Nothing like what Martha Stewart might recommend. It’s a very smart macabre satirical over-the-top sci fi allegory, a modern deal with the devil, and in case you weren’t sure about what counts, director David Mercatali opens the play with Madonna’s “Material Girl” and the Beatles’ “Money.”

In Ayckbourn’s funny “Confusions,” small interactions show human vulnerabilities

In Ayckbourn’s funny “Confusions,” small interactions show human vulnerabilities

This 1974 Alan Ayckbourn play, seen for the first time in the U.S., is a master class in how to use theatrical devices. In five one-act plays with the same superb ensemble cast, it uses absurd farce, irony and slapstick to show how people miscommunicate as their needs and desires collide.

Jessica Lange’s despairing woman’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” is tour de force

Jessica Lange’s despairing woman’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” is tour de force

From Jessica Lange’s remarkable dissolution as the drug addicted Mary, reaching her nadir (and theatrical heights) in her mad scene, to Michael Shannon’s stunning drunk, you are blown away by Jonathan Kent’s staging of Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” It is autobiographical. His father was a famous dramatic actor and O’Neill as a youth traveled with his parents. The younger son, Edmund, stands in for O’Neill.

“Bright Star” a charming southern fairy tale and bluegrass operetta

“Bright Star” a charming southern fairy tale and bluegrass operetta

If you like bluegrass and feminist stories, you will love this Steve Martin-Edie Brickell show, as I did. Carmen Cusack is a dulcet-toned charmer as the heroine. Martin and Brickell did the story and music together; Martin wrote the book and Brickell the lyrics.

Frank Langella in “The Father” brilliantly creates confusion of man with dementia

Frank Langella in “The Father” brilliantly creates confusion of man with dementia

The fascination of Florian Zeller’s play about a man suffering from Alzheimer’s is that it is told from the point of view of the sufferer. I noted early on a very beautiful French desk, and then not long after, it wasn’t there. Hmm, I thought. What happened to the desk? Then other items of furniture in his apartment weren’t there.

Or was it his apartment? It seems that his daughter was married and living in London. But no, he was living in her Paris flat, and she was married to someone else. Or was that the case?

“Skeleton Crew” shows worker solidarity at time of corporate uber-power

“Skeleton Crew” shows worker solidarity at time of corporate uber-power

Workers solidarity, a labor union, caring about each other may appear a bit old fashioned in this neoliberal era, but Dominique Morisseau shows vividly how that is a lifeline for four people facing the loss of the jobs at a Detroit auto plant in 2008. At a time when the corporate 1% thinks nothing of what closing factories does to workers.

That of course was the year that bankster fraud almost brought down the world financial system and caused business failures that threw millions of people out of work.

“Eclipsed” is stunning, surreal look at the horrors women suffered in Liberian civil war

“Eclipsed” is stunning, surreal look at the horrors women suffered in Liberian civil war

Danai Gurira’s stunning, naturalistic play is about the horror of war with no horror shown, only talked about. It takes place in Liberia during the civil war of the 1990s and 2000s. There is something surreal there. Three women who have been taken as sex slaves by a military commanding officer are so dehumanized, they have no names. They call each other Wife #1, Wife #2, Wife #3, as their only identities.

Yet, there is some solidarity. The older one (Saycon Sengbloh) there 25 years – since she was 12 or 13 — seems beyond outrage; she cares for other girls. Wife #2 (Zainab Jah), about 19, escapes to get a gun and join the army so she can kill men who attack her. She declares, “With a gun, no man can touch you.” Wife #3 (Pascale Armand) is pregnant, naïve, cried at the rape, but sees no way out.

“The Judas Kiss,” about Oscar Wilde and the aristocrat who was true to his class

“The Judas Kiss,” about Oscar Wilde and the aristocrat who was true to his class

Surprise that a play about a famous homosexual starts with a man and woman cavorting in bed. We see them waist up, she is nude. But we discover that they are just hotel servants, not the main attraction, who is gay and upper class in his tastes. That’s Oscar Wilde, the playwright whose sense of entitlement probably helped blind him to the dangers of challenging the British upper class hypocrisy that, riven with homosexuality itself, just didn’t like it displayed so openly. Not in 1895. So, in some ways, David Hare’s very strong play is as much about class as about sexual choice. Class, of course, plays a role in other Hare plays.

Ban offshore banks with account secrecy from US correspondent accounts: Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz

Ban offshore banks with account secrecy from US correspondent accounts: Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz

June 3, 2016 – Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel prize-winning former chief economist of the World Bank, says that the way to solve corruption and money-laundering facilitated by offshore banks that run secret accounts is to “shut them down.” And the way to do that is to ban non-transparent banks from US correspondent accounts. He spoke at a Council on Foreign Relations meeting today.
At the breakfast on “Is U.S. Finance Hurting Growth?”, he addressed an aspect of banking that was not on the agenda, asking, “Why do we have offshore banking? You know, is it that finance really does better in the Cayman Islands because of the sunshine? (Laughter.) You know, that makes money grow faster.”