March 24, 1988 |
Christopher Durang's latest commentary on everyday life in America in the penultimate decade of the 20th century - the two-character play "Laughing Wild," which opened last night in the Second Space Theatre at the Society Hill Playhouse - takes its title from a line in a Thomas Gray poem that reads, "And moody Madness laughing wild amid severest woe. " Samuel Beckett quoted the line to wonderful effect in "Happy Days. " Durang virtually bases his whole play on it. The "severest woe" belongs to a woman drifting in and out of dementia, who utters the line from time to time like an old refrain, alternately laughing and weeping as if to pound home the message.
July 3, 1987 |
Beyond Therapy, a fierce farce based on Christopher Durang's play, defies analysis - in both senses of the expression. Though deftly cast, with comic neurotics Jeff Goldblum and Julie Hagerty as shrink-dependent singles who find each other through the personals, Robert Altman's film has the disconnectedness of a breakdown. Durang's lampoon of therapy was a comedy crackup; Altman's version is a crackup of the mental kind. The director's impressive roster of recent stage-to-film translations - Secret Honor, Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean and Fool for Love - interpreted the plays, adding a dimension they did not have on stage.
November 17, 2007 |
Jews and Christmas. They go together like - well, let's just get it out there: They don't go together. And since this is the second year in a row that I've left a Bristol Riverside Theatre holiday show - in this case Christopher Durang's Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge - feeling personally insulted, I hereby issue a plea for the company to please leave the Hebrews out of your future yuletide festivities. Bristol means well, they really do, and they deserve credit for their annual attempt to avoid the Scrooge cliche by mounting productions that turn the Dickens classic on its ear. In this case, a typically careening Durang script zips around A Christmas Carol like a wild pinball game, with an African American ghost - who, by the way, may have a few of her own complaints about Durang's stereotyping - leading the infamous humbug to the Cratchits' Airstream trailer, among other off-kilter destinations.
March 24, 1988 |
Laughing Wild is built around a confrontation over a can of tuna fish in a supermarket, and in terms of a theatrical meal, tuna fish is what Christopher Durang gives his audience. Laughing Wild, which opened last night at Society Hill Playhouse, is hardly a play at all. Rather, it is a loosely connected trio of sketches that resist Durang's straining effort to link his two characters and their problems. Durang's meal may not be a success, but he has put some quality ingredients into it. As in many of the works by the author of Beyond Therapy and Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You, there are in Laughing Wild some very humorous scenes and some very funny lines to be savored.
December 4, 1986 |
Christopher Durang obviously took the title of Baby With the Bathwater from the adage "Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater," but that does not necessarily mean that he intended any connection between the old saying and the play. Oh, a baby (actually a doll) does have a major role in the play, and there is a basinette, although the baby is never given a bath, but the meaning of the adage - don't get rid of what is good along with what is not - seems to have no pertinence to the play.
December 3, 2012 |
Irreverence, they name is Christopher Durang. Kicking the crutch out from under Tiny Tim, Durang's Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge , a spoof of Dickens' famously sentimental A Christmas Caro l, is not nearly as amusing as it should be. And this is despite New City Stage's having assembled a large and impressive Equity cast. The show limps along (oops, sorry, Tiny Tim) under the slow and plodding (oops - did it again) direction of Michael Brophy. The idea is funny.
March 24, 2014 |
BLOCKBUSTER musicals, a world premiere or two, the arrival of the Tony Awards' 2013 best play - yeah, we've got those. The Kimmel Center's Broadway series, source of crowd-pleasing "bus-and-truck" musicals, brings in "The Phantom of the Opera" and "The Wizard of Oz. " Local productions of note range from the Wilma's "Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq," a new play by Pulitzer Prizer Paula Vogel, to InterAct Theatre Company's "Down Past Passyunk," based...
February 21, 2008 |
Here's another absurd labor of love by the Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium, a theater company devoted to lesser-known works of the theater of the absurd, a dated subspecies of drama. Tina Brock, the artistic director and driving force behind this niche group has rounded up the usual suspects - Beckett, Durang and Ionesco - only to prove that sometimes little-known works are little known for good reason, despite the casts' solid performances. Three short plays make up the 75-minute program.
March 21, 1988 |
If Christopher Durang were anything like his plays, he would be irreverent, bitingly sarcastic, quick with a quip, flamboyantly funny and, beneath the humor, frustrated and angry. That is the Christopher Durang one imagines writing plays such as Beyond Therapy, which skewers psychotherapists with deadly thrusts; Baby With the Bathwater, which rakes well-meaning but unintelligent parents over the coals, and Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You, in which he attacks, with a savagery many Roman Catholics cannot forgive, the teachings of the church.