David Sheward

David Sheward is a critic with Backstage. This account has been auto-generated, and does not indicate that this person is an active member of Show-Score.com. That said, if you "follow" this member, you will automatically be updated whenever s/he writes a new review.

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Reviews (144)
85
Theater Life

“A blazing hot showcase for a mature, but still dangerous Hawke and a subtly intense Dano with insightful, soulful direction...Macdonald captures the wild humor as well as the galvanizing energy of Shepard’s battling bros. His production works...Both stars deliver top-caliber work. You would think Hawke would dominate the show...But Dano is equally fascinating...Macdonald’s final image is...A perfect representation of Shepard’s disturbing vision of America.” Full Review

80
Theater Life

“Bobby is offended at Pharus’ implied conflation of black and gay oppression and therein is the central conflict of the play: inclusion versus separation...McCraney explores the myriad variations on this theme in a compelling hour and 45 minutes, staged with economy and passion by Trip Cullman, punctuated by stirring gospel numbers featuring Jason Michael Webb’s dynamic arrangements and Camille A. Brown’s exciting movement." Full Review

45
Theater Life

"Wants to be a deep, complex examination of an immediate, vital issue and comes up short...The four characters...are more like representatives of viewpoints rather than flesh and blood. They speak to each other in talking points...Leon’s overheated direction turns the stage into a debate platform...The cast does their level best to humanize the proceedings, particularly Washington who filters Demos-Brown’s stagey dialogue through desperate mother love and a laser-like focus." Full Review

60
Theater Life

"The template is a familiar one: a disconnected family reunites around a dinner table...Quieter confrontations, further revelations, and soul-searching occur after intermission with an ambiguous resolution for the final curtain...The characters are too predictable...Campell’s wry script and Daniel Aukin’s tidy production offer many pleasures such as tight, well-paced staging and crackling dialogue...But there are too many loopholes and cliches." Full Review

50
Theater Life

"Deals with a powerful, artistically-inclined woman evaluating her past, but does not go very deep into the complex issues it raises...The subject is potentially gripping, but Licht...fails to significantly explore Wagner’s work, Cosima’s relationship to it or Levi’s, or the roots of European anti-Semitism. We never even learn why 'Parsifal' is considered so magnificent and why it was important that Levi interpret it...Kalfin’s direction is too broad as are the performances." Full Review

65
Theater Life

"This is an opportunity to see one of the greatest actresses of her generation playing one of the greatest actresses of all time...She makes every line of dialogue seem as if it is being spoken for the very first time...The play itself provides numerous pleasures including several entertaining backstage hijinks staged with wit. But it doesn’t hold together...The playwright sabotages her own message of female empowerment by building the arc of her plot around Bernhardt’s romance." Full Review

85
Theater Life

"Silverman’s wildly funny script, Mike Donahue’s imaginative, brash direction, and five incisive performances make 'Collective Rage' a hoot of hilarity, a howl of anger, and a celebration of the power of theater to awaken spirits and provide connections...Thanks to Donahue’s clear direction and the centered acting, we are never unsure at which Betty is which. The play is simultaneously a broad cartoon and a moving portrait of women shattering the limits set by a male, heterosexual society." Full Review

85
Cultural Weekly

"A more intimate experience in the small auditorium at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. The result is not a diminishment. The production staged with love and professionalism...creates a sense of a community...Skybell conveys the full range of Tevye’s reactions to the eroding of his beloved Old World traditions as they give way to 20th century shifts....Each member of the company becomes a full-fleshed citizen of Anavetka." Full Review

85
Cultural Weekly

"Gives off vibes of inspired nuttiness and celebratory sexual ambiguity...This latest updating...obliterates any memory of predecessors...Shaina Taub leads the orchestra with aplomb, plays the fool Feste with zip, and wrote the splendid songs which explore themes of gender switching and perspective. This infectious and fizzy spectacle rushes by in 90 minutes, a delicious summer cooler. What a pity it will gone soon. But that makes it all the more special." Full Review

75
Cultural Weekly

“The direction and acting are polished and confident...Shapiro and her vibrant cast infuse zest and sting into what could have been a staged doctoral thesis...Not much happens for the first hour or so in the way of plot...The play is a weird blend of traditional family drama in the Arthur Miller vein, and a meta-view of those plays. It’s funny and entertaining, yet distant and cold at the same time.” Full Review

50
Theater Life

"Harmon does supply us with a fair quotient of laughs...He has created other unpleasant and/or narcissistic protagonists in previous works such as 'Bad Jews,' 'Significant Others,' and 'Admissions.' But in those pieces they were complex, if deeply flawed. Here you just want to get away from them...Fortunately, director Daniel Aukin delivers a taut production and the cast is sharp and funny." Full Review

95
Theater Life

“The grand passion of opera and the minimalist esthetics of director John Doyle blend perfectly...Doyle strips the material down to its essence and allows its raw, explosive power to explode fully...A spectacular ten-person cast deliver the vocal and dramatic goods...Doyle wisely downplays the exaggerated nature of the speech and emphasizes the emotional connections of the story and Bizet’s music, resulting in an unforgettable rediscovery of a curio from Broadway’s Golden Age.” Full Review

55
Theater Life

"It’s a gripping premise and Giardina has added several factors to up the stakes...The theme of wealthy privilege versus idealist near-poverty is a worthy one, but Giardina adds too much freight to his boat and it sinks before the final fade-out. The main question of the school vote is resolved halfway through and more issues arise which are not fully developed...There are intense confrontations, but too many of the plot points are just not believable." Full Review

80
Theater Life

“Features innovative and spare staging...This incisive 80-minute explosive device of a play follows the spiritual voyage of Mlima, a beloved Kenyan National Park elephant murdered for his prodigious tusks...Based on an article by Damon Tabor, Nottage’s cynical roundelay of greed maps out the trial of corruption which makes such cruelty commonplace and lucrative...All of the human roles are played with dexterity and diversity...‘Mlima’s Tale’ is a harrowing trip, but well worth taking.” Full Review

55
Theater Life

“Rashad doesn’t deliver Shaw’s complete package in Sullivan’s tepid production...Rashad grows in power and conviction, but she never convinces as Shaw’s plain-spoken woman of the people or as a charismatic leader...A vital scene...which conveys Shaw’s central theme...falls flat due to the surface-y liming of Bobbie and Davenport. It’s more of a shouting match than a clash of ideas...There is a modicum of surprise and snap in the epilogue.” Full Review

65
Theater Life

"Lonergan skillfully balances humor and pathos, endowing each point of this rectangle with flaws and virtues...But the four players are not equally strong. Evans is appropriately and comically bellicose as the bullying cop, but Cera fails to shade Jeff...Jeff is the center of the play and Cera does not provide a reason for us to care about his actions...Powley...delivers broad caricature. Henry gives an in-depth portrayal of William and the most believable liming of a character's conflict." Full Review

45
Theater Life

"This kiddie tuner hits all the proper notes-female power ballad, plucky heroine, briefly thwarted but ultimately resolved romance, comic anthropomorphized sidekick, lots of chases. But the conflict provides little gripping action. Michael Grandage's stiff staging, the syrupy book by Jennifer Lee, and pleasant but familiar score by husband-and-wife team Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez are too by-the-numbers and left this non-Disney worshipping adult cold." Full Review

85
Theater Life

"Tightly focused and moving. Ferrentino’s darkly funny family drama centers on three siblings, each with coping issues...Amy is played by Brewer who also has Down’s Syndrome. She delivers an insightful and assured performance...Monk and Blum capture Jake and Maggie’s yearning resentment and need to be loved. Aspillaga is a fiery cannonball as the opinionated Kathy...Ellis’ direction skillfully balances Ferrentino’s bleak humor and compassionate pathos." Full Review

60
Theater Life

"Rabe offers a more ambitious and sobering view of mass suffering...Elliott’s staging and the performances of the large cast are appropriately realistic, but at nearly three hours, the stories blend together and the play loses focus. Rabe needs a ruthless editor to separate the excess from the essence. The shorter vignettes work best...Sterling actors like F. Murray Abraham, Rhea Perlman, and Maulik Pancholy are trapped in overdrawn storylines." Full Review

55
Theater Life

"'Entertaining, well-structured, and funny, but it follows a familiar template and has little new to say...There are several hilariously macabre sequences...but the characters are too close to archetypes from other works...Dunster’s direction is slickly professional and well-paced and the cast exhibits exquisite comic timing...But 'Hangmen' feels more like a retread of familiar McDonagh themes and sitcom tropes rather than a frightening glimpse of humanity’s dark nature." Full Review

85
Theater Life

"Ensler weaves the narrative of her medical issues with world issues...At times, the parallels are a tad heavy-handed, but the author-performer quickly balances self-deprecating humor and cutting observations with her social commentary...Paulus’ measured direction seamlessly guides us through Ensler’s multi-stage journey of horror and triumph...Ensler is a passionate advocate, sprightly comedienne, and friendly host...It’s an intense, inspiring encounter." Full Review

85
Theater Life

“An intimate celebration of the art of storytelling, the actor’s craft, and the love of literature and family...Transforming raw materials into theatrical gold...'Uncle Fred' is a riotous romp satirizing British middle-class snobbery...Daniel Sullivan’s subtle direction, John Lee Beatty’s handsome drawing-room set, and Kenneth Posner’s cozy lighting compliment Lithgow’s tour-de-force turn perfectly. This one-man show has artistry as well as 'Heart.'" Full Review

85
Theater Life

“Connects to its audience on a level deeper than stagecraft...Kirkwood structures her compassionate, heart-wrenching treatise on social responsibility with such craft, you become wrapped up in the interrelations of this trio without even realizing they are symbols of modern society, yet struggling to redeem itself...Macdonald’s direction keeps the action on a credible level with a welcome lack of showy theatricalism. This subtlety is echoed in the acting.” Full Review

85
Theater Life

“Joseph creates a weird tapestry of truth and lies in his new drama...This overwhelming saga asks hard questions on the relationships between government and media, citizens and dictators, and how people manage to live through decades of upheaval...The plot stretches credulity but in Joseph’s shadowy world, it doesn’t matter. This is a dreamscape of epic proportions enveloping theatergoers with Joseph’s storytelling magic as it stuns with unrelenting anger at authoritarian monsters.” Full Review

85
Theater Life

"A life-affirming revival...Against this tragic backdrop, the magnificent company tells book-writer-lyricist Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty’s joyous story of survival and spirituality...In its original Broadway staging, 'Island' was a charming bauble, now it’s a stirring, enveloping experience...Newcomer Hailey Kilgore is a spectacular surprise, displaying a rich, emotive voice, expressive dancing (Brown’s choreography is stunning), and an impressive acting range." Full Review

80
Theater Life

"Few actresses can wring as many variations on self-indulgent despair as Marin Ireland...Her interactions with her fellow participants and the group’s facilitators form the backbone of Rosebrock’s prickly and moving drama. The dialogue crackles with authentic flavor delivered with intense conviction by Ireland and the ensemble, directed with a feel for empathy by Taibi Magar...'Blue Ridge' delivers a satisfying insight into the irresistible paths of dysfunction." Full Review

85
Theater Life

“Harris explores multifacted takes on race and sex in a surprising and satiric comedy...A riotous, uncompromising look at how black and white people see and react to each other, staged with the right balance of outrageous humor and prickly reality...The eight-member cast delivers intensely funny and searingly dramatic performances...Gay, straight, black, white, psychological, and sexual issues are give an unscrupulous eyeballing in this uncomfortably laugh-filled play.” Full Review

65
Theater Life

"The uneven book and the fabulous frocks are not all there is to this dazzling, ultimately entertaining glitz-fest. Moore’s direction is lightning-fast, giving the proceedings the speed and flash of a Vegas concert, and the performances rise above the 'Behind the Music' milieu of the story...Stephanie J. Block delivers a Tony-worthy performance as the third persona...Despite the rushed, shallow nature of the book, 'Cher' contains more than its share of campy fun elements." Full Review

85
Theater Life

"The new production, deftly directed by Lila Neugebauer, also offers a memorable lead turn. This time, it’s the incomparable Elaine May...May’s classic comic timing works perfectly for Gladys’ verbal ramblings and repetitions which drive her family nuts and send the audience into paroxysms of laughter...An astonishingly simple portrait of human frailty. But this 'Gallery' is also a heartbreaking ensemble piece." Full Review

85
Theater Life

"A tightly-knit caper thriller...Playwright Bean weaves together a bizarre cast of characters and outlandish story strands, creating a tremendously satisfying whole...Director Daniel Sullivan hits just the right tone of contained insanity and arch cynicism...The staging and script could have veered into excessively violent Martin McDonagh territory, but 'Nap' stays within the bounds of credibility—just—and lands its snooker balls expertly into each comic pocket." Full Review

50
Theater Life

"While there are occasional brief fireworks...the tension does not reach the excitement level...The fact that Polly is played by the brilliantly intense Edie Falco is a great help to the evening, but despite a searing, quicksilver performance...she cannot save the work from its lack of momentum and drive...Elliott turns in a proficient job of staging, getting the most bang for White’s limited buck...A strong star part for one of our finest actresses, but a weak vehicle to propel her." Full Review

40
Cultural Weekly

"The self-described 'rock opera' attempts to depict a community but produces only stereotypes and derivative songs...There are individual moments of excitement...But the storyline is overly familiar...Instead of insightful commentary and portraiture of a bizarre and intoxicating era, we get warmed-over tropes of innocence corrupted accompanied by pedestrian tunes and lyrics...'This Ain’t No Disco' ain’t worth your time." Full Review

80
Cultural Weekly

"'Head Over Heels' could have been just another jukebox musical, but the clever book...mixes Sir Philip Sidney’s 16th century 'The Arcadia' and with songs by the 1980s girl group The Go-Gos for a surprisingly fun, silly joyride. The usual tangle of hidden loves and gender-bending disguises gets a 2018 twist...The myriad plot patches are woven into a brightly colored crazy quilt, reflecting the creators and cast’s appreciation and love of sexual diversity, pop culture, and the beat." Full Review

85
Cultural Weekly

“I found this intimate series of snapshots quietly moving...Letts can be a bit too on the nose. Scenes reinforcing the theme of the randomness and collage-like nature of Mary Page’s life pop up a mite too often. But the majority of the vignettes provide piercingly realistic moments in a woman’s life...A complicated script...Yet we are always certain who is who and where we are in Mary’s story. This is due to Lila Neugebauer’s economic and fluid direction." Full Review

90
Cultural Weekly

“Doyle strips the material down to its essence and allows its raw, explosive power to explode fully...A spectacular ten-person cast deliver the vocal and dramatic goods...Rose sets fire to the stage as she slinks, slides and trills up and down Bizet’s scales and Hammerstein’s saucy lyrics...Doyle wisely downplays the exaggerated nature of the speech and emphasizes the emotional connections of the story and music, resulting in an unforgettable rediscovery." Full Review

45
Theater Life

"Harrison brings up vital points about the interconnections between the gay and trans communities, but the characters are not fully developed, so we care little about the outcome. Chris is African-American and Pam is Asian-American but their racial identities receive scant play as does Jules’ status as a transplanted Brit...Director Pam MacKinnon delivers a taut production and the cast is sharp and funny...But it’s hard to get involved with the work past the chuckles." Full Review

65
Theater Life

"Stoll’s Iago is a tad too light-hearted and comical in his villainy...Chukwudi Iwuji’s Othello is properly commanding and passionate, but switches on the anger too abruptly, accelerating into full explosion mood with little transition...Despite these shortcomings, Santiago-Hudson delivers a compelling, straightforward telling of Shakespeare’s tale of jealousy, aided by Rachel Huack’s elegantly simple set, Toni-Leslie James’ rich period costumes, and Jane Cox’s sensitive lighting." Full Review

55
Theater Life

“Addresses topics rarely featured in tuners but does so with a tried and true template...Hudes crams a lot into her often sharp, but too syrupy book. There are moments of poignant connection between the nonconformist, impulsive Beatriz and the lonely, whip-smart Olivia. But there are also too many TV-movie cliches as they encounter a small army of friendly strangers to help them on their way. The score features eclectic and engaging music by McKeown and quirky lyrics.” Full Review

55
Theater Life

“Washington makes a game effort...and he nails some of the character’s dimensions...Unfortunately, he misses the darkness beneath the sunny exterior...Wolfe emphasizes the humor of Hickey and the huge cast of pitiable drunks clinging to their fantasies. As a result, the audience gets a hearty chuckle at their foibles and no gasps of recognition that they share the same condition...There are moments of mirth and some depth." Full Review

85
Theater Life

"An unflinching look at liberal assumptions about engineering diversity in education...Combines razor-sharp humor with pointed commentary to produce a scathing satire of our racial politics...Director Daniel Aukin wisely keeps the satire from becoming too broad as does his exemplary cast lead by Jessica Hecht as the conflicted mother. Once again, Off-Broadway is leading the way in presenting fresh, challenging work." Full Review

85
Theater Life

"Buether's elegant set transforms into a hall of mirrors and each actress becomes A at various ages. Mantello cleverly conveys this triangular vision without turning it into a gimmick. He also manages to inject action into what is basically a long debate peppered with Albee's observations on the nature of mortality. Jackson is a fearsome lioness, roaring at the loss of her vitality. Metcalf and Pill are equally fearsome...It's a triple tour de force." Full Review

95
Theater Life

"This epic remains startlingly relevant and Elliott's highly theatrical and insightful new production is simultaneously massive and intimate...When the play opened critics predicted it would take its place alongside the masterworks of O’Neill, Williams, and Miller. This quirky, heartfelt revival confirms that status...Stellar company...The whole seven and a half hour experience moves like a jet-propelled dream. It's an experience you'll never forget." Full Review

40
Theater Life

"Way past its sell-by date...Rando's staging is fast and furious and the talented company combine skilled vocals with unabashed comic abandon. The trouble is, in a world where a Twitter-obsessed, reality-show host is President of the United States, Springer’s vulgar antics are no longer shocking or particularly funny...It’s amusing once, but for two and a half hours? This once explosive hand-grenade of a show now comes across as an overlong and outdated SNL sketch." Full Review

80
Theater Life

"'The Zoo Story,' Albee’s shattering one-act of alienation and violence which put him on the map back in 1959...This body-blow of a play asks disturbing questions on what it means to be a human being and how our materialistic society was changing our values...'Homelife' is definitely the lesser work. It follows the same template of many of his later pieces...Fortunately, director Lila Neugebauer injects the same vitality into these uneven halves." Full Review

60
Theater Life

"'He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box' recounts tales of violation and despair, but there is no reprieve of joy or connection...Kennedy’s poetic script has several intense images and concepts, but ultimately it’s too slight to stand alone...Yionoulis creates a number of gripping stage pictures as Switser’s videos blend with Kennedy’s hypnotic words...It gets a bit confusing at times...but the final result is a fascinating intellectual exercise rather than a visceral drama. " Full Review

55
Cultural Weekly

"The performance and Doyle's fast-paced staging aren't enough to pull together McNally's unfocused script and provide a clear, dynamic picture of a genius...There is so much material and potential themes to choose from...McNally includes too much...And short-changes them as a result...Even with this kitchen-sink approach, many fascinating and vital elements are left out or minimized...A potentially fascinating subject, but there's more air than fire here." Full Review

60
Theater Life

“An overly familiar, underwritten play...'Farinelli' has an intriguing concept, but the execution is wanting...Van Kampen fails to develop her premise beyond some keen acting opportunities for her husband Rylance and staging possibilities for director Dove...There are no real stakes here...Fortunately, Rylance delivers his usual magnificent work...An entertaining historical curio, but not a full dramatic experience.” Full Review

45
Theater Life

“The unimaginative direction never raises above the level of a competent college production. The concept seems to have been to plunk the dizzy lovers of the Bard’s Illyria down in a New England fishing village so the cast could warble atmospheric sea shanties in between scenes. There is not much spark between the various victims of Cupid’s arrows, and those with comic roles push their zany schtick too hard to elicit any honest laughter. Too bad this is just a so-so ‘Twelfth Night.’" Full Review

70
Theater Life

"As substantial as a soap bubble. At 75 minutes, it feels skimpy for a high-priced Broadway attraction, but that one hour and 15 minutes is packed with hilarity...'Meteor' takes a slight idea and stretches it as far as possible without snapping it. Jerry Zaks’ zippy direction mines extra yuks from Martin’s brief but gut-busting script...Don’t waste any brain cells trying to search for hidden meaning, messages on marriage, or satire on the Theater of the Absurd, just sit back and guffaw." Full Review

75
Theater Life

"Familiarity with the perennially cheerful SpongeBob and his fellow citizens of the underwater hamlet of Bikini Bottom is helpful but not essential for delighting in this fun-filled romp, staged with a combination of child-like glee and adult sophistication by Landau...Jarrow’s otherwise snappy book could lose a half-hour particularly during an extended adventure sequence...Some adults may chafe at all the giggly silliness, but for kids and kids at heart, this is a sweet, watery treat." Full Review