Hunter Styles saw Washington Shakespeare Company’s One Thousand and One Days and files this report:
Playwright Paco José Madden, who here directs his own piece, has saved Scheherezade, one of literature’s strongest heroines, from the crushing blow of King Shahriyar’s sword. Then he gives her another leg up in this new sequel to the Arabian Nights stories, casting her as a powerful, vengeful queen who, betrayed by her husband, begins marrying and executing all the elegible bachelors in Baghdad. Ali, a poor shepherd new to town, finds himself suddenly tangled up in the queen’s bonds of matrimony and, taking his cue from Schery herself, delays his death with some irreverent morality tales about about men, women, and sexual authority.
Madden hits a note of campy irreverence in writing this as a pure sequel rather than reenvisioning the whole thing — Scheherezade is pretty slow to catch onto Ali’s endgame, considering she pulled the same stunt earlier in her own life — but One Thousand and One Days pleases in its earnest joy of storytelling, and makes us hope that Madden will continue to dig deep into literature such as the Arabian Nights for continued inspiration.
He also saw Fisker Fights For His Life, a Playwrights Forum offering directed by Nick Olcott, and observed:
Ten minutes into Fisker Fights For The Life, audience members might wish they’d gotten around to reading Anthony Trollope’s Victorian classic The Way We Live Now, from which Ernie Joselovitz’s new play pulls its characters and basic inspiration. Fortunately, Joselovitz has the chops to condense the full gist of Trollope’s gargantuan book — it was published serially upwards of a hundred chapters — into a swift and witty two-act play, while also managing to work in an amusing parallel narrative chronicling Hamilton K. Fisker (a bit player) and his personal journey along the edges of the novel’s plot.
With wry hints to meta-literary works such as Pirandello’s Six Characters In Search Of An Author, Joselovitz sets the action in a sort of limbo world, in which the characters in Trollope’s nearly-completed novel carouse and banter while the big man next door (Trollope, unseen) pens their destinies. Ultimately, as Fisker — one of two American characters — spins more and more drastic plans to grow his cameos into major plot points, baffling his co-stars from across the pond, the play becomes a scathing and very funny satire of English literature and a cheeky endorsement of the American can-do spirit. If Fisker’s tireless subterfuge can elevate his literary destiny, who are we to hold him back?
In his evolving monologue Andy Warhol: Good for the Jews?, performer Josh Kornbluth exposes his personal and professional struggles to find the deeper meaning within the lauded painter’s series “Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century”. Kornbluth is simultaneously a comedian, art critic, and amateur psychoanalyst, weaving together little-known facts of Warhol’s life, salient achievements of the ten icons, and his own struggle with his Jewish cultural identity. The result is a series of hilarious, profound, and occasionally heartbreaking revelations. Although the show is still a work in progress, Kornbluth proves an affable storyteller who navigates the rough spots with a wry, disarming wit. Once finalized, Andy Warhol: Good for the Jews? should prove an entertaining and enlightening performance when it opens at Theater J iMarch 6th, 2010.