A selective guide to arts commentaries in print and websites elsewhere.
Introduction to Broad Street Review, plus biographies and contact points for our editors and contributors.
See a list of coming appearances by BSR's writers.
2011 highlights: Critic’s choiceBY: Merilyn Jackson 01.08.2012
Even a dance critic can’t help stumbling into the theater now and then— especially since so many plays these days seem to be about dance. Here are a few of my serendipitous highlights of the past year.
Theater or dance— who cares?MERILYN JACKSON
Even a dance critic can’t help stumbling into the theater now and then— especially since so many plays these days seem to be about dance. A few of my serendipitous highlights of the past year:
I was slated to review Pillardance at The Painted Bride on September 8, but that performance was cancelled due to flooding in Old City. By pure chance I made a mad dash to the Suzanne Roberts Theatre in the hope of making the curtain for Pig Iron’s Twelfth Night. The welcoming staff sneaked me in just as the performance began, to my great benefit. Shakespeare was never more sly, sexy or smart. What a night to remember! As a City Mouse, I’ll take cakes and ale in fear over beans and bacon in peace with Country Mouse any day.
Tribe of Fools turned me into a Heavy Metal Dance Fag hag.This deeply imagined and written little story is about a South Philly guy named Timmy Bagley (co-director Terry Brennan), who likes to dance in his basement. Timmy’s trollopy girlfriend Viola (Janice Rowland) thinks he’s weird, and his best friend, Vincenzo, ridicules him but is actually secretly a male dancer in a club. Only Timmy’s questionably gendered friend Rosalind (Jess Conda) gets him. What the audience gets from all of them is energy and delivery. This Tribe’s got teeth.
Give a nod, also, to the dance theater group Wild Punch. Last year it gave us dancer-choreographer Annie Wilson’s funny and smart inside/out solo graceful frustrated expletive.
Actors James Tolbert and Josh McIlvain (of Smokey Scout Productions) and Anna Flynn-Meketon and John Rosenberg gave fascinating psychological performances in Waiting For The Boss and Automated Fault Isolation, respectively. If this intrepid critic found Papermill Theater at 2825 Ormes Street in deepest Kensington, so can you.
I caught the last show of Billy Elliot and was sorry my little grandson couldn’t go with me. I’d like to say it was a play about dance, but at its heart, the message was about finding out what you can do and winning your family’s support to do it.
Not a dancer in sight
I also took in a few memorable plays that had nothing to do with dance. At the Live Arts Festival— the crème de la crème in Philadelphia theater— I saw Elephant Room twice because I just couldn’t believe my eyes or ears. Works like this multi-messaged play by Steve Cuoffo, Trey Lyford and Geoff Sobelle (directed by Paul Lazar) explain why words like adroit and deceitful were coined.
Finally, it took a steely-spined crew (under director Blanka Zizka and dramaturg Walter Bilderback) to pull off the Wilma Theater’s production of Our Class, Tadeusz Slobodzianek’s spotlight on one 20th Century event that took humanity back to the dark ages. I saw it twice in full and dropped in for the powerful last act twice. Our Class never lost its harsh glare. (For my full commentary, click here.)♦
Respond to this Article