The intensity that drives 'My Name Is Asher Lev' comes close to swamping the show in its regional premiere at Ensemble Theater of Cincinnati. The core argument — which pits unyielding, enslaving tradition against the enlivening freedom of artistic inquiry — begins to sound like posturing. And the play's vibrant energy, so promising at the outset, slides off into sound and fury.
The stormy plot is a fevered sex-duel with class warfare overtones between Jean, an ambitious, wily, vulgar but capable servant (Matthew Lewis Johnson), and the spoiled, self-focused daughter (Hayley Clark) of Jean's titled employer. Is it over-simplifying to locate seeds of a wayward mistress in the behavior of a willful wife?
Yes, the ship sinks. Happily, the musical does not. Titanic, that is, now onstage with a cast of 37 at Northern Kentucky University. The show has memorable moments from the noble captain and his crew and from the cowardly ship owner. The ship’s architect frantically searches his blueprints for design flaws as the water rises. Through Dec. 13.
Yes, the ship sinks. Happily, the musical does not. 'Titanic,' that is, now onstage with a cast of 37 at Northern Kentucky University. Composer-lyricist Maury Yeston and author Peter Stone have created a show with close to continuous music, solos for more than 20 people, huge choral numbers and frequent shifts of scene from bow to stern. The cast members are nicely matched to their music and to each other.
'All's Well That Ends Well' at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company ends up neatly with loose threads tidied away. The remarkable thing is how director Brian Isaac Phillips and his 17-member cast take a troublesome patchwork script full of dislikable people and dubious motivations — the great Shakespearean scholar Harold Bloom calls it "rancid" — and transform it into a rich, more cohesive, more satisfying entertainment experience. Through Nov. 15.
To paraphrase Bill Clinton, "It depends on what your definition of 'well' is." Sure, 'All's Well That Ends Well' at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company ends up neatly with loose threads tidied away. But truest delights are the four strong women who, as in no other play by Shakespeare, dominate the action as played by Kelly Mengelkoch, Sherman Fracher, Amy Warner and Sara Clark.
Imagine one of René Magritte's paintings brought to fulminous, razzle-dazzle life. That's Sarah Ruhl's highly, wryly comic new play, 'Dead Man’s Cell Phone.' Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati offers this regional premiere in a well conceived but mostly impenetrable production directed by Michael Evan Haney and brilliantly designed by Brian c. Mehring.
When playwright Peter Shaffer's 'Equus' opened on Broadway 35 years ago, it wasn't easy to discern his purpose. Had he set out simply to craft a racketing good script with a philosophical undertow for audience members to puzzle over with their after-theater drinks? Or had he aimed higher? Today 'Equus' feels undated if not yet timeless. And it's as provocative as ever, especially in an energized New Edgecliff Theatre production.
A revival of the evergreen, ever-lilting, ever-intelligent Alan Lerner-Frederick Loewe 1956 musical closes out the 2009 summer season on Showboat Majestic under Tim Perrino's direction. Much is brightly energetic and cleverly staged, though occasionally ragged in execution on the postage stamp stage, and all 18 cast members give the piece their Showboat best. Through Sept. 27.
It’s 1183. Henry II (King of England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and most of France) gathers together a Christmas party that is certain to produce fireworks with a doomed purpose: Cement the succession, soothe wounded ambitions and settle bloody conflicts that divide the family. The 1966 James Goldman opens Season 16 at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company with seven most familiar and ordinarily persuasive performers directed by artistic guru Brian Isaac Phillips. Through Oct. 11.