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‘September, 2017’

“Mary Jane” absorbing drama of how mothers cope when kids have incurable illness

“Mary Jane” absorbing drama of how mothers cope when kids have incurable illness

Mothers coping with seriously ill children who will never be healthy and normal is the theme of Amy Herzog’s new play. Sounds depressing, and it is, but it’s also curiously rather uplifting. Because it’s about the women’s trying to maintain normality, loving their children with a kind of forcefulness and desperation as if that could will a cure. And with Anne Kauffman’s naturalistic direction, the play never gets near soap opera.

“Michael Moore: The Terms of My Surrender” is political rally as theater piece

“Michael Moore: The Terms of My Surrender” is political rally as theater piece

Standup comedy, political rally, late night talk TV? It’s hard to know what to make of Michael Moore theater event billed as a play. Donald Trump’s black and white photo is the backdrop. A box on the upper right has red, white and blue bunting. It’s the presidential box and Trump and family have been invited. Moore is wearing his signature worker’s blue shirt and cap.

“Prince of Broadway” remembers great musicals but forgets the politics

“Prince of Broadway” remembers great musicals but forgets the politics

Harold Prince produced and directed some of Broadway’s brilliant musicals: “Cabaret,” “Candide,” “Evita,” “Kiss of the Spiderwoman,” “Fiddler.” Those shows were about politics and ideas. I was glad to see a reprise of famous numbers, but I was sorry this production did not deal with Prince’s vision. It was more “and then I directed/produced” rather than this is why I put on this show. David Thompson’s book should have made the point that they were very political shows. That and their artistry is why they succeeded.

“For Peter Pan on her 70th birthday” flies into a tempest of clichés

“For Peter Pan on her 70th birthday” flies into a tempest of clichés

Playwright Sarah Ruhl has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist and a Tony nominee. She even got a MacArthur “genius” Award. She has done some fine work, especially the funny feminist “The Clean House” and the bizarre “In the Next Room, or the vibrator play.” But this play doesn’t make the cut.

“1984” describes the chilling past and future of the American superstate

“1984” describes the chilling past and future of the American superstate

When British writer George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” was published in 1949 it was viewed as a dystopian novel. Now, it seems taken from the news. Orwell’s novel, adapted and directed by Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan, is stunning theater as well as trenchant political commentary. I’d say surreal, but it’s too close to the truth. Except it is surreal in the sense that it mixes realistic staging with what we used to call horror video.