All posts by Mark Briner

The Humans at The Kennedy Center

Be it Christmas, Thanksgiving, Passover, or Festivus, the family convening for an annual anticipated holiday ritual that begins with good intentions, love, and thanks for all those gathering, but will inevitably devolve into a miserable airing of deeply-buried, lifelong grievances is one of the most tired and overused tropes in the cannon of American theatrical comedy or drama. When creativity comes to a halt, have a family dinner to force the blowup. Steven Karam’s 2016 Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning The Humans,

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Manifesto! at Happenstance Theatre

Dada: (noun) an avant-garde art movement of the early 20th century centered in Zurich, New York, and Paris developed in reaction to Word War I, consisting of artists who rejected logic, reason, and aestheticism of modern capitalist society, promoting instead anti-bourgeois ideals through irrationality and nonsense.

For those who the parameters of the art form seem slightly vague (or for those who just plain slept through that particular art history class),

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Sally McCoy at Cohesion Theatre Company

Americans always seem ripe for a good feud. Feuds make great headlines and apparently even better entertainment. Ryan Murphy scored television ratings gold this season with his recounting of the on and off screen cat-fighting between iconic movie stars Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. The current Broadway season features War Paint, a musical based on the corporate backstabbing between leading lady cosmetics pioneers Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden. Nationally, the riffs and hate have become unveiled and brutally wide between Clinton and Trump supporters,

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The King & I at The Kennedy Center

A theatrically inclined, over the top leader is called upon the carpet by a strong, oppositional feminist for policies that are alternately deemed sexist, racist, tyrannical, oppressive, and a throwback to less enlightened times as their country struggles to enter a new era of ideology under the watchful eyes of the rest of the free world. No, this is not this week’s headline at The Huffington Post, but the underlying dilemma at The Kennedy Center in Washington,

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Pike St. at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

The Vega household on Pike Street, on the lower east side of New York City, is a hectic walk-up on the eve of Hurricane Delores, the biggest potential disaster since Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012. Devoted mother Evelyn is franticly attempting to arrange an emergency generator so her handicapped teen daughter Candi can continue to survive on her ventilator and life support equipment. The transport and emergency shelter services they offer were disastrous the last time during the devastation of Sandy.

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Review: Les Liaisons Dangereuses at Centerstage

  1. Only flirt with those you intend to refuse.
  2. A poor choice is less dangerous than an obvious choice.
  3. Never write letters.
  4. Always be sure they think they’re the only one.
  5. Win or die.

So are the Libertine Commandments recounted by the aristocratic temptress Marquise de Merteuil for her cohort in conspiracy the Vicomte de Valmont. Her credos just scratch the surface of the perverse dance in which the two engage in Christopher Hampton’s 1985 play,

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Review: Beauty & The Beast at Charm City Players

Tale as old as time. Executing a Disney stage musical is always a tricky endeavor because one is competing with decades of iconic memories perfected and preserved in flawless animation.  Even the best of the Disney stage shows suffer from the same stock problems: primarily easy to animate but difficult to stage scenes, added music significantly less stellar than the original scores, and inflated books from stretching the perfectly tailored 97-minute movie to two and a half hours of stage time.

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Review: Rocky Horror Show at Maryland Ensemble Theatre

In the early 70’s, an out of work British actor, Richard O’Brien, amused himself during his hiatus by writing a campy ode to indulge the passions of his youth— science fiction, B horror movies, Steve Reeves muscle flicks, and 50’s rock and roll. Accentuating the unintentional humor and over-the-top dialogue of the so-bad-they’re-good movies he was saluting, he paired it with a catchy pop/rock score and wrapped it in layer after layer of camp to create The Rocky Horror Show.

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