Bruce 6

New York City | 65+ | Male
About:  I go to the theater to find those works that make me look at things anew. Then in my reviews I explain what excited me and what could be done better. Often I comment on the broader political framework for a production since an audience cannot but view a play through the lens of current events.
Reviews (484)
84
Betrayal
Midtown W
Beautifully acted play about the insidious nature of extramarital affairs

See it if Pinter is lapidarian in constructing dialog; precisely constructed world that is incestuous & filled w secrets & 2x dealing; expertly acted

Don't see it if good but not Pinter's best; not dramatic, essentially displays class of arts-related people bored w their lives

Also Acting Pinter requires mastery of dialogue, posture and most of all th... Read more Read less

74
During previews
Creative evocation of life & death of st. vincent's hospital, foremost nyc aids treatment center; doesn't always hang together

See it if creatively moves across centuries 2 show Catholic hospital as sanctuary 4 healing; shows key clash religion/science; spurs audience particip

Don't see it if jumps around, no sustained, deep exploration of themes; use of humanitarians Mother Seton/Pierre Toussaint as major characters is contrived

Also Spoiler alert: Experience takes place in 3 parts, in 3 different place... Read more Read less

79
During previews
Blood-soaked killing machine, but still a mama's boy; who wouldn't want to find out more about coriolanus?

See it if Jonathan Cake riveting Coriolanus, fearsome in war/awful as performative politician; K Burton fine "Lady MacBeth" figure; evocative set

Don't see it if 2nd act where C is in exile is letdown; opaque C less interesting than Shake's great ruminating characters/Hamlet, Macbeth, etc.

Also Coriolanus is not viewed as top-flight Shakespeare, missing the profus... Read more Read less

54
Hannah Senesh
Financial
In 1-person show, enthusiastic but amateurish portrayal of iconic life of hannah senesh as simplistic “anne frank with a gun”

See it if language sometimes poetic; lead has nice voice singing songs using HS’s poetry as lyrics

Don't see it if story is simple hagiography w/o nuance; HS played in only 1 note from child 2 young woman; reminds me of overwrought college production

Also HS has become a Jewish icon of the WW II era based on her biography: h... Read more Read less

91
Fairview
Brooklyn
Brilliantly shows how white control extends to defining images/tropes associated w being black; unforgettable ending

See it if imaginative & hilarious absurdist send up of racial images/tropes defined by whites; unforgettable revelatory ending

Don't see it if you don't like absurdist plays; message at times is heavy-handed

Also This Pulitzer-Prize-winning play keeps u off balance about race. Initi... Read more Read less

74
During previews
Truncated version of one of will’s great problem plays; less than top flight acting

See it if Will’s brilliant play fits together like a Swiss watch; speaks 2 today’s MeToo, hypocrisy of those in power

Don't see it if acting by certain recent acting school graduates is awkward and unsubtle; truncated version loses grandeur of full play

95
Turns a classic that we've taken for granted into a vital, edgy portrayal of america's past

See it if the safe anodyne Oklahoma is replaced by a dangerous version that challenges our romanticized history of the growth of America

Don't see it if humor at times is cartoonishly broad; still, a revival not to be missed

Also Production from smaller venue (St. Ann's Warehouse) was moved to large... Read more Read less

75
During previews
Reformulation of chekhov's "3 sisters" as an absurdist comic assault; not for those who value nuance in their humor

See it if converts Chek's "Three Sisters" into absurdist world where characters are hilariously frank & vicious

Don't see it if turns characters into cartoons; sheds no new light on play's central concern: dreams of escape from life's existential hell are empty

Also This play is going to divide audiences. Some may view it as a comic to... Read more Read less

92
Set forth as a portrayal of the making of an at&t commercial by legendary director errol morris, it is a tour de force/farce in investigating the nature of truth

See it if hilariously meta; satire of E Morris documentaries about "truth" turns Morris into character in play that itself examines what truth is

Don't see it if like NY Times, u find this to be thin & cartoonish & lacking drama; look deeper, it's much more clever & ambitious

Also Satire. Errol Morris (M) is famous for such documentaries as The Thin ... Read more Read less

84
Very entertaining "much ado" set in modern times in america w black cast, emphasizing black culture

See it if 1 of Will's great comedies; high-energy, laugh-out-loud production; beautiful singing & kinetic dance

Don't see it if best when Beatrice & Benedick jousting w each other are equals, here Bea dominates Ben; broad in your face production lacks wit

Also The core of this comedy deals w how dangerous and corrosive artifice (... Read more Read less

84
Life Sucks.
Midtown W
Wonderfully fleshes out and modernizes chekhov's uncle vanya to show how deals w existential issues that resonate today; but by end goes off the rails

See it if very clever script; turns Chek's characters into passionate fully-drawn characters; hilariously breaks 4th wall

Don't see it if cleverness of play hard 2 appreciate unless u know Chek's play well; loses fervor when becomes gen'l consideration how 2 lead a happy life

86
During previews
A Strange Loop
Midtown W
Musical that will blow your mind by showing a musical being created before your eyes about the torments of being a young black gay man aspiring to write a groundbreaking musical about his life; may be too self-referential for some

See it if hilarious, scabrous, heartbreaking; clever lyrics; convincing lead, ensemble used inventively 2 embody artist's inner obsessions

Don't see it if involves a lot of navel gazing; cliche-ish portrayal of intolerant parents; explicit gay sex not 4 everyone

Also Congrats to Michael Jackson, who is the creative force behind this wor... Read more Read less

74
During previews
Nomad Motel
Chelsea
Uneven coming of age story built around high school kids raising themselves w/o the help of absentee or incompetent parents; in effect the kids become the parents

See it if fascinating intersection of stories white girl & Asian boy dumped in US, struggling 2 assert indep., build a home; strong cinematic scenes

Don't see it if play overwritten: tries 2 hard 2 neatly resolve girl/boy's problems; last 1/4 misfires w contrived scenes

74
Continuity
Midtown W
Tries to turn farce about making a movie about climate change into a serious discussion of its existential implications; only succeeds in part

See it if satirizes vanity of "Hollywood" actors, moviemaking; clearly shows how much movies get wrong about global warming/yes we're doomed

Don't see it if meh storytelling; does not weave serious science organically into the play; has feel of play cobbled together

Also Multiple uses of "continuity" in play: stands for (i) the film-making ... Read more Read less

85
During previews
Beautiful remounting of mcnally's paean to the possibility of connection even love between two lost souls; but script loses steam in 2nd act

See it if gorgeous tone poem/opera-like production shows how extreme optimism/pessimism can reconcile; memorable music; towering Audra/ Shannon leads

Don't see it if repetitious; after volcanic 1st act, we know this couple's MO; starting midway thru 2nd act play drifts until reaching uneasy rapprochement

Also Opera: One can see this play as a type of opera where 2 different life... Read more Read less

76
During previews
Something Clean
Midtown W
Metoo from a new angle; sexual sin of son visited upon his parents; few surprises

See it if devastating effect sexual assault by son on his parents; mediates mom's guilt thru relationship w young gay man; heartbreaking K Erbe/mother

Don't see it if cliche-ish; unsurprising exploration of guilt by parents, fraying of their relationship, mother "cleaning" up garbage metaphor obvious

82
Animated but overwrought production of one of shepard's best plays; shows why he is great chronicler of the death of america's frontier

See it if primal & explosive; searing portrait of dysfunctional family in the west ground down by rapacious capitalism/exploitation; hilarious at time

Don't see it if loud, unsubtle production; meanders at times; doesn't always achieve balance btwn realism/surrealism that characterizes Shepard at his best

Also (1) Starving: The sense of "starving" is employed in many ways in this... Read more Read less

73
Energetic production of one of will's best; if only i'd been able to hear it

See it if High-spirited, joyous production filled w music and dancing

Don't see it if stripped down production misses full array of the Tempest's magic; hard to hear dialog over music/sound effects

86
All My Sons
Midtown W
Nearly perfect production of less than perfect arthur miller modern greek tragedy

See it if very well made play; outstanding Letts, Benning/O’Brien’s direction show how evil can co-exist w the commonplace

Don't see it if dated script w obvious anti-war & capitalist messages; ending should be devastating, isn't

Also (a) Parallels between Germany & America: It seems less than coincident... Read more Read less

81
Julius Caesar
Midtown W
This refreshing take on will's classic puts brutus at center; as refocused “the tragedy of marcus brutus,” is much more interesting than “the death of julius caesar”

See it if brings new depth 2 Brutus as combo idealist/warrior; graphically shows how political violence he unleashes can’t be put back in bottle

Don't see it if several misses: symbolic fighting 2nd Act unconvincing; Caesar not enuf of foil 2 Brutus/see below

Also In my view, this version of Julius Caesar (JC) - which humanizes Brutu... Read more Read less

77
During previews
Socrates
East Village
The socrates presented here is like your marxist uncle who challenges everything; he really pisses you off, but stimulates you to think, which, after all, is the point of this play

See it if powerfully dramatizes story of S vs Athens establishment & politics behind his death sentence; passionate performance of M Stuhlbarg as S

Don't see it if 2 many speeches; not delve deeply into what made S’s moral philosophy revolutionary; death scene so long, u think:drink the hemlock already!

Also Principle: S falls short of A Man for All Seasons/Sir Thomas More in d... Read more Read less

78
If you'd like to see a nostalgic, highly skilled concert of the "temptations" greatest hits, this is for you; otherwise ...

See it if 2 see super-slick, high energy choreography mated to the Temp's iconic hits; appreciate how racial environment affected group

Don't see it if biopicish: conventional story of group's rise/fall; tho performers are strong singers, there's no way you'll confuse them w the originals

Also This show, more or less, faithfully tells the triumphant but ultimatel... Read more Read less

73
During previews
Mildly entertaining, but save your money: stream the iconic movie and buy the cast album of a real musical

See it if 1st act starts off w bang w A Brightman as BJuice amusingly breaking the 4th wall; SA Caruso/Lydia has some pipes; clever lyrics, lighting

Don't see it if other than Belafonte's Banana Boat Song, music's meh; starting w 2nd act, goes downhill as BJuice's audacity becomes mere shtick

Also In the 1988 movie, Michael Keeton's BJuice was unforgettable: mean, un... Read more Read less

87
Who wouldn't want to see the reigning queen of bdway musicals, kelli o'hara, in this classic takeoff on will's taming of the shrew?

See it if delightful; great tunes/clever lyrics; Kelli in fine form as combative leading lady/hell-cat Kate; superb dancing by supporting cast

Don't see it if conventional; pure vaudeville w broad, obvious humor, slapstick battle btwn Kelli and ex-husband 3 stooge-ish; cut below top musicals

Also STATING THE OBVIOUS: Tho "Kate" is ostensibly about a battle between a... Read more Read less

78
Made to look like a goofy college musical, don’t be fooled: this a clever work w an optimistic core

See it if endearing/laugh out loud story of character unlucky in love/life; talented cast dashes around stage 2 act/sing/play instruments, wow!

Don't see it if not heavy; music is forgettable; structured as an unpolished college show; but, heh, that’s part of its immense charm

81
During previews
Audaciously shows intersection of race and gender, how racial issues have made it into the bedroom; much is fresh & arresting, but a lot misses the mark

See it if hilarious slave master role playing; delicious satire of overwrought group therapy; shows how farcical perspectives on race have become

Don't see it if slapdash & illogical; group therapy satire goes on far too long; conclusion unsatisfactory

78
See towering wide-ranging performance by gr kane as bigger thomas

See it if clever script which fluidly moves back/forth in time; see major talent in Kane in NY debut

Don't see it if tale of racial oppression/violence does not pack wallop of novel; does not sharply explore moral ambiguity of Bigger/victim & victimizer

56
During previews
Make Believe
Midtown W
Lame "lifetime tv channel"-type melodrama; you can't "make believe" this is good theater

See it if raises interesting questions about how children model dysfunctional parents; & effect of a traumatic childhood on adulthood; NYT loves it

Don't see it if listless; does not satisfactorily answer the Qs or resolve the plot points it raises; U r unconvinced by NYT review

74
Road Show
Midtown W
In story about the empire-building mizner brothers, some of sondheim's strengths on display, but this is not close to being on par w his great musicals

See it if Sond's lyrics brilliantly capture the time/characters' complexities; fine performances B Uranowitz, Jin Ha & R Esparza

Don't see it if plot repetitious, no arc to story; hard 2 figure out larger pt of musical: Am dream is a big con? melodies unremarkable

54
God Shows Up
Midtown W
Is there a new way to make fun of televangelists? you won't find it in this soporific play

See it if 1st 15 mins promising Saturday Night Live-like satire of oily Televangelist (TE)

Don't see it if after 15 mins play goes flat; weak plot; God who shows up is dull, spouts cliches re cruelties of organized religion

Also Take downs of phony preachers are old hat dating back to Elmer Gantry ... Read more Read less

66
During previews
The Rolling Stone
Upper W Side
Family drama involving homosexuality in uganda that pits brothers against each other; intense but isn't this struggle old news in the lgbtq arena?

See it if shows extreme danger in Uganda 2 be openly gay; how religious homophobia can poison a family; strong acting

Don't see it if sheds no new light on roots of homophobia; dialog writerly & artificial; why write this play rather than an essay?

Also This play deals with rank intolerance vs. homosexuality, a well-trod a... Read more Read less

85
Gorgeous musical tone poem & the chance to hear glorious lachanze; but underlying story is far-fetched

See it if ethereal evocation of utopian cult of black women beekeepers; hypnotic music performed by troupe of super-talented singers

Don't see it if meh fairy tale: "magic negroes" come 2 aid of white girl fleeing abusive father; civil rts incidents add little; songs need more variety

77
Working: A Musical
Midtown W
Series of clever songs that illustrate how important work is to feed the stomachs & souls of the working poor; but forgettable

See it if insightful at times moving lyrics; strong performances particularly by Chris Jackson; shows how work links the generations

Don't see it if song showcase, rather than a musical w a plot; few show-stoppers; dated view of work not addressing MeToo/ inequality/the undocumented

Also Musical attempts to draw together the songs by focusing the show on th... Read more Read less

64
During previews
In the Green
Upper W Side
Musical about one of medieval history's most impressive women, hildegard von bingen (h), who spent about 30 years locked in a cell as a servant to a strange patroness; creative but doesn't pull it off

See it if experimental feminist musical; inventive set; beautiful singing/harmonizing by 3 actors playing 3 versions of H at same time

Don't see it if audience falls asleep @ repetitive & obscure vehicle; music boring; does not explain well medieval backgrd or what made H so noteworthy

84
Toni Stone
Midtown W
Tells fascinating story of toni stone, the 1st woman professional baseball player in the negro leagues; meandering play but memorable lead

See it if captures rhythms of baseball team thru offbeat kinetic choreography; poetic tribute 2 playing baseball; A Matthis' fine perf humanizes Toni

Don't see it if by 2nd Act show starts 2 run out of steam; sexist confrontations w teammates predictable; upbeat ending contrived

91
Combo of satire, comedic romance & kinky sex makes for an absurdist tour de force about slavery; may be too strong stuff for some

See it if audacious & hilarious, changing focus on a dime; fine perfs by duo; jarring/makes u think anew about slavery

Don't see it if broad & in your face; purposely shocking, sadomasochistic shtick gets your attention but may be off-putting to some

Also Ta-Nehisi Coates has been writing memorably about the visceral aspects... Read more Read less

62
Long Lost
Midtown W
Common plot device - outside destabilizing force, in this case ne'er do well older brother - returns, facade of family happiness of younger brother crumbles, but "who cares"?

See it if rich set, solid performances, interesting perspective on how fate's tied to genetics but individual decisions can override

Don't see it if largely predictable family melodrama, betrayals have no sting, not particularly insightful, in all meh

78
Ink
Midtown W
Fascinating story of how r murdoch purchased a minor london newspaper and thru his editor turned it into an audacious tabloid that became the most-read paper in the country; needs to dig deeper

See it if shows high testosterone atmosphere of newsroom in 1969/70 thru fabulous mise-en-scene (set, lighting, etc.) & amusing stylized acting/mvmnt

Don't see it if largely spectacle; not probe deeply into Murdoch's motivations; 2 much acting is animated shouting, words hard to understand

85
Octet
Midtown W
Formatted as alcoholics anonymous-type meeting where those attending have an addiction to technology, this provides unique experience of hearing participants as part of octet singing confessional pieces a cappella (a/c); missing character interactions

See it if far ranging/imaginative exploration of our addiction 2 technology "monster", how tech defines us; striking music/lyrics; amazing a/c singing

Don't see it if u don't like modern a cappella or complex, poetic lyrics w obscure techno-speak; little plot development/character interaction

64
Happy Talk
Midtown W
Fact that talk-back explaining play w jesse eisenberg the playwright was better than the play tells you a lot

See it if shows how mother's obsession w acting coincides w self-absorption, misanthropy, losing touch w reality, fine comedic M Ireland as caregiver

Don't see it if watered-down "Sunset Boulevard"/broad flabby comedy w/o much bite until unexpected ending; S Sarandon brings little depth 2 lead

62
During previews
Dying City
Midtown W
You keep asking yourself, did i miss the point or is this a pointless play? not good questions to ask as playgoer

See it if shows how death of husband/brother in Iraq haunts those left behind; how brutalities in personal lives linked to war/Abu Ghraib

Don't see it if dated; don't care about characters; static/dull performance by ME Winstead as decedent's wife; how was this finalist 4 Pulitzer?

78
Lockdown
West Village
Starts as a lesson about the inequities of prison, ends as a searing existential drama

See it if shows arbitrariness/dehumanization of prison; remarkable performances by Keith Smith as prisoner & Zenzi Williams as volunteer joined at hip

Don't see it if stereotypical "Lifetime channel" melodrama/prisoner & volunteer find humanity in each other; but fine performances bring this alive

63
The Tempest (Public)
Upper W Side
See charming "mobile unit" version at the public rather than this overwrought one

See it if this is one of Will's must see plays

Don't see it if steps on all of Will's great lines

Also I have seen some extraordinary Tempests including a recent production ... Read more Read less

59
The Cradle Will Rock
East Village
Shows how far the union movement has fallen when this union-centric folk opera comes across as a stodgy period piece

See it if passionate advocacy 4 union movement vs co-opting capitalism; Tony Yazbeck's intense acting/dancing as union organizer is high point

Don't see it if boring & preachy; capitalists painted in 1-dimension as corrupters of society, literarily throw around $s; strident music; thin piano backup

75
During previews
Like a crash, you can't avert your eyes from the wreck portrayed in this play, but it doesn't mean you understand destination of playwright

See it if edgy; starts w surreal date btwn seductive male sociopath/bravura H Linklater & masochistic woman

Don't see it if bizarre & confusing; discomfort ratchets up as relationship becomes physically toxic, ends w strange "sisterhood of the abused" (see below)

Also My guess is that playwright Halley Feiffer is presenting her vision of... Read more Read less

81
Think this is merely a play about a focus group evaluating children's tv shows? look more closely; using "rashomon"-like approach, it shows how parents focusing on the same material draw radically different conclusions about how to raise a child

See it if hilarious satire of focus group from hell; fine ensemble passionately explores different views on values/character 2 instill in children

Don't see it if focus group format limiting, becomes redundant after 90 minutes; ending letdown; still by end feel as if tapped into psyche of community

Also Set in the 1970s, it's refreshing to see a time when people could talk... Read more Read less

86
During previews
Tootsie (NYC)
Midtown W
Funny, no hilarious, update of "tootsie" for the 21st century

See it if great combo serious (focus on gender identity) & silly (satire Bdway, laugh out loud book); S Fontana (F) as T w quirky cast are marvelous

Don't see it if few memorable tunes; many groan-worthy jokes; preserves cliches from movie about consequences of F cross-dressing (see below)

Also Tho the musical skillfully updates the movie by laying bare the gender... Read more Read less

83
Ain't No Mo'
East Village
Shows in mind-blowing but hilarious sketches the nightmare african-americans feel they are living in after obama

See it if scabrous satire; series of surrealistic sketches performed by bravura actors deal w full range of black responses 2 post-Obama America

Don't see it if not an integrated play; you need a taste for the bizarre 2 appreciate this

Also Thru hilarious satire gives arresting view of how the black population... Read more Read less

87
During previews
Rachel chavkin the directing wizard who brought us "the great comet" brings her magic to this folk opera retelling of the orpheus & eurydice story

See it if Chavkin turns stage into funky wonder; clever songs/fine band; emotional-singing E Noblezada/Eurydice & thundering bass P Page/Hades

Don't see it if at times has feel of dramatized concert; don't feel deep emotion in Orph/Euryd relationship/ending should be devastating but is not

Also Political Commentary: Tho show predates Trump, it prophetically shows ... Read more Read less

74
I Married an Angel
Midtown W
Dated, old style pre-oklahoma rogers & hart musical but come for the dancing

See it if dancing by a talented troupe particularly prima ballerina Sara Mearns is heavenly; solid cast

Don't see it if pre-feminist plot assumes women need to deceive 2 succeed; particularly silly plot; few memorable tunes & Hart is no Hammerstein