Theater antireviews

The urban legend of Sweeney Todd

Under what circumstances would I be willing to kill people and then serve up human flesh in pies?

Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is an American masterpiece of the musical theater. The show debuted in 1979 and was based on a 1973 play by Christopher Bond.However, the story ...

Little Shop of Horrors: Roger Corman’s best B movie

One of the fastest movies ever shot

Like the undercard of a title fight, a B Movie in the 1930s was the show nobody had come to see, but watched anyway because it was included with the price of the ticket. Thus, ...

JC Lee's What You Are ponders the “big damn hurry.”

Being a good person has nothing to do with technology.

Things just aren’t the way they used to be. At least they’re not for Don, the aging protagonist in this Old Globe-commissioned world-premiere play by JC Lee. Don can’t quite keep up with technology, or ...

There’s no subsitute for good writing in Cygnet Theatre’s version of Jane Austin’s Pride & Prejudice

“Vanity and pride are different things”

Jane Austen published Pride & Prejudice in 1813, and two centuries hence, its story of sisters seeking eligible husbands in the genteel English countryside has been retold ad nauseum. Many plays, movies, and television series ...

Dionysus and Thalia: the gods of comedy

Daphne’s prayer is heard and answered by the gods

When Princeton professor of classics Daphne beseeches the Grecian deities in a moment of despair, her prayer is heard and answered by the gods — the gods of comedy, that is. Who are the gods ...

Oceanside Theater Company’s Man of La Mancha shows the tragedy of Don Quixote

To reclaim ideals and virtue

“Facts are the enemy of truth!” says Don Quixote in the musical Man of La Mancha. Soon after, he adds, “I think reality is in the eye of the beholder.” Perhaps that’s why the 1965 ...

Charles Schulz and Charlie Brown: an everyman’s Dostoyevski

The fact is memes are a thing, and comic strips aren’t.

The format of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown is to string together some of the classic cartoon frames from Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip and then add original music which isn’t, by any stretch ...

Sweat: There are no successful victims

“They took our jobs!”

Sweat is a great example of a play written for people who go to the theater but about people who would never go to the theater. In other words, this is a “blue-state” playwright writing ...

Cirque du Soleil’s Volta walks the line between art and sport

Are gymnastics even really a sport? Is freestyle cycling?

The touring Cirque du Soleil show Volta performs at the Del Mar Fairgrounds until May 5. Coloring a loose, dystopian future narrative with ballet, aerial acrobatics, and freestyle bicycle stunts, the show presents a bit ...

Jerrie Cobb: the “her” in They Promised Her the Moon

Her 30 years of missionary work are the real story

Jerrie Cobb was an exceptional human being. So exceptional that her stress test scores exceeded those of the astronauts in the Mercury 7 Project. She is the “her” in They Promised Her the Moon. The ...

The bemusing and amusing poetry struggles of T.S. Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and Groucho Marx found in the Old Globe's Life After

What is good comic timing, if not a properly honed sense of poetic interval?

In the musical Life After, a teenager coping with the loss of her father struggles with the limitations of conventional speech for expressing the complex emotions that surge through the mourning process. “I’ve never been ...

Hedwig and the Angry Inch and everyone in between

From Ted Knight and Renée Richards to Ruby Rose and Sharon Needles

“Ladies and gentlemen, and everyone in between,” says the titular character in the Diversionary Theatre staging of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which runs through April 28. It’s been 20 years since the off-Broadway sensation ...

Angels in America: nigh a religious experience

Is it a work of genius, as the buyer insists?

Many years ago, in London’s West End, I saw a play called Art. The plot centered on the rather dysfunctional friendship among three male friends, one of whom — the most successful and ambitious — ...

Technicolor western Chaps! features tunes by Sons of the Pioneers and Will Rogers

British accents delivered in a cowboy twang. Hilarious.

Playing at Lamb’s Player’s Theatre until April 20, the musical comedy Chaps! mines most of its humor from a goofy, fish-out-of-water premise. Specifically, an American troupe of singing cowboys has failed to show up for ...

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society and Gabriel struggle against Nazi reductionism

A story about WWII: the good, the bad, and the weak

Over the last several weeks I’ve read a novel, watched a film, and attended a play all set in WWII — specifically, the Nazi occupation of Guernsey and Normandy. Given that Schindler’s List and Life ...

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