BARE STAGE AT FESTIVAL THEATRE COMPANY
If I do nothing else this year but spare you from suffering through Michael Walker’s bare stage, then 2019 will have been a very successful year for me.
Undeniably the most miserable, misguided, and self-indulgent play I have ever seen, bare stage follows a young actress who is cast in a high profile, pre-Broadway production by an A-list writer and director. But there’s one catch: A bunch of them will have to get naked.
Did I mention that bare stage contains nudity? That’s right! This play within a play within a play (I think that’s right) examines nudity on stage by… featuring nudity.
But let me ask you this: Is onstage nudity really a problem? Is this some widespread industry woe that we just don’t hear about? Really, though, it doesn’t matter. The play is written so poorly and directed with such woeful negligence that the questions I pose are completely irrelevant.
Oh, and for what it’s worth, asking an actor to perform in a play like bare stage is far more offensive than simply asking them to show a little skin.
BARE STAGE. THROUGH 3.2 AT THE PLAZA THEATRE, 539 TREMONT ST., BOSTON. BOSTONTHEATRESCENE.COM
THE CHRISTIANS AT APOLLINAIRE THEATRE COMPANY
After having a conversation with God while sitting on the toilet, the pastor of a megachurch—one that he built from the ground up—has a revelation. When he reveals this shocking revelation about hell and salvation to his doting congregation, he invites a hell storm of controversy from the church, his parishioners, and his wife, who sits silent for the first hour of this 90-minute play.
Written by Lucas Hnath, the wunderkind playwright behind A Doll’s House, Part 2 and Red Speedo, The Christians has garnered critical acclaim since its 2014 premiere at Humana. But at Chelsea’s Apollinaire Theatre Company, where the Brooks Reeves-directed production runs until March 9, the reasons for its acclaim remain something of a mystery.
There are fine performances all around, particularly Michael Poignand’s teary-eyed, intense Pastor and Alison Meirowitz McCarthy’s stirring and wrenching turn as Jenny, a devoted congregant who feels betrayed by the pastor that she put so much faith into. Jenny is on welfare with a child yet still donates 20 percent of her income to the church, 10 percent above and beyond what is customary. But Jenny’s generosity here doesn’t achieve Hnath’s desired effect of underscoring the immensity of her faith but rather exposes the church for the predatory institution that it is, preying off of poor believers like Jenny. This, of course, isn’t the point.
But what is the point of The Christians? I just don’t know.
Worse, I just don’t care.
THE CHRISTIANS. THROUGH 3.9 AT APOLLINAIRE THEATRE COMPANY, 189 WINNISIMMET ST., CHELSEA. APOLLINAIRETHEATRE.COM
THE LITTLE FOXES AT LYRIC STAGE COMPANY
Lillian Hellman’s thrilling 1939 play about the greed that tears apart a Southern family has been given a first-rate revival at the Lyric Stage Company in a profoundly impressive production directed by Scott Edmiston.
Anne Gottlieb is a forest fire as Regina, a woman willing to do anything—and step over anyone’s dead body—for a chunk of change. It’s a role that was originated by Tallulah Bankhead and immortalized by Bette Davis, and Gottlieb ably makes the role her own, albeit with an impressive pair of fangs.
One of the best-acted productions in recent memory, this ensemble of actors is the finest assembled in several seasons. Amelia Broome is luminous as Regina’s damaged alcoholic sister, and Cheryl D. Singleton finds unimaginable beauty in the smallest moments as Regina’s maid, Addie. Also impressive are Michael John Ciszewski and Rosa Procaccino, who play two cousins at opposite ends of the morality spectrum. While Procaccino is new to me, Ciszewski is not, and he once again shows why he’s one of the most promising young actors on the Boston theater scene.
Janie E. Howland has designed the best set I’ve seen on the Lyric’s stage, and with Karen Perlow’s lighting and Dewey Dellay’s original music, this production is gloriously cinematic.
The Little Foxes is that rare classic that shows virtually no signs of age. And with this Edmiston home run, this is as close to a must-see as it gets.
THE LITTLE FOXES. THROUGH 3.17 AT THE LYRIC STAGE, 140 CLARENDON ST., BOSTON. LYRICSTAGE.COM
Theater critic for TheaterMania & WBUR’s TheArtery | Theater Editor for DigBoston | film and music critic for EDGE Media | Boston Theater Critics Association.