Martha Wade Steketee

Martha Wade Steketee is a critic with Urban Excavations. 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 (54)
Urban Excavations

"What’s lost in this plot is the arc of the children, where the playwright begins her story. (Though choreographed dance breaks bring the young energy delightfully back on stage from time to time)...Several additional characters, while performed delightfully, don’t propel the plot...We may be working our way backwards to Elizabeth Baker’s best work. I’m on board." Full Review

Network (NYC)
Midtown W
The Clyde Fitch Report

"Chayefsky’s grey-toned universe is one we live in, 40-plus years later. And van Hove doesn’t trust us to see that on our own...Expecting an audience to rely on their familiarity with source material is as slick as milking a madman’s ranting for rating...Yarden’s video design almost dances, but van Hove doesn’t trust that; he has it constantly echoing and competing with the action onstage...Perhaps the director’s idea is never to let the audience feel too comfortable in any medium." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"May’s trademark wit is subsumed into Gladys...The playwright’s structure mutes, strangely, the emotional punch of Gladys’ story. There are focused, resonant moments, to be sure, but sometimes we want to be closer to the parts of the story that occur off-stage...A deeply nuanced yet emotionally distant play. Still, director Lila Neugebauer elicits some marvelous performances and also creative cross-talking from a solid cast." Full Review

Travisville
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

"Infused in glorious ways with first-time playwright Harper’s actor sensibilities. His carefully-etched characters...confront sit-ins, generational shifts in power, and community change. Meaty individual monologues shine...It is the arc of the local political compromises that provide the dramatic sparks in this story...Elegant direction by Broadnax masks the fact that the many scenes make pieces out of the story...The play that hones those stories into one resonant whole is not yet here." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

“Elegant two-part adaptation...Accented by gender-blind casting...The end effect is superb: we focus on the power held by the characters, not the anatomy...Algya’s sound design provides a throbbing drumbeat of battle scenes...Slaven’s splendid costumes are used to provide narrative clues...Fight scenes...are also key to the success of this beautiful pair of plays...From the battlefield to the bed chamber to the royal court, we are never allowed to settle into any kind of realistic world." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Joe Tracz’s witty adaptation of Ned Vizzini’s novel provides characters that are types and unique creations, who sing tunes by the wunderkind Joe Iconis that evoke multiple musical traditions and focus on smart, clear lyrics...Witness the rise and fall of adolescent yelps and screams of pleasure at their musical heroes and she-roes in a new musical written just for them. Thrill to the spark of originality in a universal growing-up story." Full Review

Mary Page Marlowe
Midtown W
The Clyde Fitch Report

“The story is an expertly selected set of key points in this woman’s life...It’s a kind and cruel and glorious ride...Neugebauer elegantly choreographs movement in, around and through the scenes of this tone poem of a play. This is deeply feminist, personal storytelling, with an imperfect, fascinating character who doesn’t yield her story to anyone else. On the page, the play is haunting. On stage, from direction to design to each of the polished actors, it offers a harrowing but human world.” Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

“Invites comparison with other plays but stands on its own...Deftly directed by Danya Taymor, we’re led to laughter, tears and healthy self-reflection...A plot in which nothing happens, and everything happens...Taymor creates a world crackling with theatricality...That your nerves may be jangled from several surprising plot moments may thrill you. If it is not a perfect play that seeks a balance between bawdy and devastating, this playwright’s voice is nevertheless strong and important." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

“The problem is that these long and very specific debate sections reference historical details without context...Does Churchill prefer for these individual characters to be more indeterminate or not? The captioning provides a specificity that the competent but often generic costuming doesn’t always provide...The play’s political and religious themes resonate, but this production dampens the details. I fear something in Churchill’s original vision has been lost in translation.” Full Review

Mlima's Tale
East Village
The Clyde Fitch Report

"The shirtless and magnificent Ngaujah kicks off and concludes 'Mlima’s Tale' with direct address speeches that, along with Bonney's staging of the play evoke deep dark spaces, inter-generational wisdom and danger in the distance...I found the experience of the play an amorphous wash...Often unclear precisely which character is which and how all the pieces link together, however, I did sense that each little step, interaction and compromise does lead to the next in the plot." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"An exquisite waltz of a revival...Perhaps Mantello’s crowning achievement in this production is that each actor, even in a brutally realistic first act, relies heavily on humor...There’s no oddly frozen action, no movement superfluous. It is a spare, elegant staging...We encounter three deeply rooted and charming women finding lightness in tragedy and darkness in comedy. 'Three Tall Women' transforms Albee’s emotional exorcism into tremulous enchantment." Full Review

Black Light
West Village
Theater Pizzazz

for a previous production "Deep ease and gentle grace of Jomama Jones...Part memoir, part fairy tale, part history lesson, part song cycle, and pure entertainment...Two adorable and beautifully-voiced young men, Trevor Bachman and Vuyo Sotashe, move and sing with Jomana to flesh out the life of her stories...In life and in Jomama’s art we find love in truth and light in darkness." Full Review

Kings
East Village
The Clyde Fitch Report

"The production of this timely story barely survives an overwhelming design - sounds disrupt, lights blind, and the set is unnecessarily twee. This is a better play than the design allows it to be...The design team only partially serves this nuanced story...On the page, 'Kings' adds new shading to a theatrical musing on political power and gender. Perhaps a future production will match such fine storytelling with a less aggressive visual and aural environment." Full Review

20th Century Blues
Midtown W
The Clyde Fitch Report

“Playwright Miller and director Emily Mann pace the storytelling with the deliberate pause-and-reflect rhythm of a daytime serial...More a calibrated pastiche than a decisively constructed dramatic ride. There is little suspense, scarcely a story to unfold. We’re left with the charm of the characters to entertain us...The stakes and life events are very present, but the mode Miller relies on is sequential monologues, not crafted dialogue...It’s watching characters report, not relate.” Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"The plot plays out as universal and resonant. Twice I have walked out at the end of this show with renewed love for humanity, hope for musical theater as an art form, and humming a few delicious, haunting melodies...The journeys taken by these characters are peppered with delicate, funny, heartbreaking solos...This seamless transfer from Chelsea to Broadway gives us the season’s first dose of potent theatrical magic." Full Review

The Home Place
Chelsea
The Clyde Fitch Report

"Sometimes a beautiful woman’s yearning gaze isn’t sufficient to hold a piece of theater together that has too many moving parts...Despite Charlotte Moore’s elegant direction, that gaze, and the moments it underscores, is hampered by a plot burdened with too many notes...Pickup is luminous and lovely as Margaret...Yet the narrative, filled with extraneousness, ultimately weakens even Pickup’s excellent work." Full Review

Mary Jane
East Village
The Clyde Fitch Report

"There’s quiet devastation in the all-female voices of Herzog’s 'Mary Jane'...Herzog’s play does explode, but gently, exposing life around the edges of achingly ordinary domestic details...Each actress crafts characters with worlds of their own, adding new dimensions to the world of Mary Jane. Director Kauffman respects the nuanced pace and tone of the scenes and conversations...The revealing accumulation of events, like the revealing of the sets, sketch out Mary Jane’s complexity." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"A sprawling family story that’s less a careful examination of any character’s experience as a wash of themes, romances, and challenges from a soap opera...Despite some solid performances from the ensemble, the play takes so much time with characters and plot points that it moves at a glacial speed...A calm beginning yields to a calamitous, yet somehow muted explosion...A family story, burdened with extra details, finally edges into something that occasionally moves." Full Review

Inanimate
Soho/Tribeca
Theater Pizzazz

"The playwright poetically captures Erica relaxing into her emotions with telling details that ring true...This production shines when it allows Erica’s freak flag to fly, and settles into the distinctly oddball and delicious comic stylings of the various embodied objects and everyone’s passionate oddities. All the actors are able and game...The only plot line that feels appended, despite a fine performance by Tressa Preston, is Erica’s older sister Trish." Full Review

Remembering Evangeline
Soho/Tribeca
Theater Pizzazz

“Offers images and intriguing visual and aural juxtapositions, and lands 60 minutes later suggesting a journey of sorts, and loads of textual questions…Sections resonate but all the plot pieces don’t quite cohere…Philippi’s writing offers loads of possible meanings to most of the brief adventure. Choreographed moments are striking and worth the price of admission. The frame that holds the pieces together, however, feels jerry-rigged rather than emotionally true.” Full Review

Chess Match No. 5
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

"While backgrounds of various interdisciplinary areas will provide entertainment, depth of field for individual audience members isn’t necessary to enjoy this delightful romp...Choreographer Barney O’Hanlon designed movement with a sense of play and gentle ease...The spare but resonant framework of 'Chess Match No. 5' allows us to enjoy the light show, ponder John Cage reflections on life and art and philosophy, and consider images as images and sounds as sounds." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"You are offered warm and loving sustenance in many forms. The tunes are all by Irving. He accompanies himself on instruments that are sometimes recognizable and often are not. Irving’s voice is perhaps the most important calling card of this show, with its huge range, with which he accompanies himself on each instrument with wondrous nuance and ululating resonance...Come with an open heart. Heart, head, stomach, and sense of humor are filled and thrilled by this production." Full Review

The Clearing
Midtown E
Exeunt Magazine

"A history play re-conceived as a modernist take on universal themes has the potential to reveal deep truths. Yet in director Pamela Moller Kareman’s design-heavy treatment of Helen Edmundson’s play, the modernist gloss dulls the overall impact. Concept trumps nuance, speeches are swallowed by actor movements, costuming choices raise more questions than answers, and specifics and universals end up in a bit of a muddle...A frustrating treatment of the historical material." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

"When it works, this musical brings down the house. When it doesn’t, the seams show in the storytelling and it is let down by some uneven performances...As the big dance numbers dominate, quiet dramatic scenes fade into the scenery...After several blow-out dancing and singing ensemble tunes before intermission, we are left with long sequences to ponder the plot in the second act. We remain hopelessly waiting for another glimpse of that sensational first-act exuberance." Full Review

Urban Excavations

"The historical setting of the lives of the musical’s characters radiate drama that this new musical has yet successfully to hone…There are genuinely moving moments in this production…And there are many times that this often luscious piece feels without clear focus or too many perspectives presented…This history is rich, the characters are endlessly fascinating, and the structural frame here feels unnecessarily twee at moments." Full Review

Noura
Midtown W
Urban Excavations

"Elegantly constructed...In this delicate memory play, each element crafted is key. Each character’s current passions, past actions, and future dreams are filtered through American politics, different religious traditions, intertwined personal and family histories, and expectations for each other." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"It has two major challenges. First, the production plays heightened symbolic theater for naturalistic stakes. Second, Doyle upends what ought to be resonant political theater...A play that toys with political metaphor must convey at least some nuance in relation to the events of our world...Doyle delivers heightened sensibilities to the detriment, not a clarifying view, of the core story...Doyle’s production sits uncomfortably astride styles, intents and concepts." Full Review

Mother of the Maid
East Village
The Clyde Fitch Report

“As Isabelle Arc, Glenn Close is a no-nonsense, straight-talking, country woman...This is Isabelle’s story...And as a human tale of love, adoration and the costs of commitment and passion, it’s hardly a sorry one. It’s a story so human, it’s divine. Close is on stage for nearly every moment, rooting our focus and solemnly embracing the action...Close’s careful performance choices as the mother of a child who dreams of leading an army will break your heart.” Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"A search for an absent father and finding solace on the stage are both captured beautifully in Theresa Rebeck’s new play 'Bernhardt/Hamlet.' The problem is, there’s more to the play...The strengths of this production, finely staged by Moritz von Stuelpnagel, center on scenes in which Bernhardt makes choices in rehearsal about her performance and demonstrates her generosity...It is a very busy backstage world, but it’s finally one with a few too many male voices." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"Basically, the creators of the show don’t trust that women can hold the stage...Re-stagings of certain sequences are so cinematic-close that nothing about them feels new. Overall, 'Pretty Woman' is storytelling detritus, and never the right scale for the stage...One wishes that some of the lush, rousing arrangements and soaring choral moments could take us to a mythic place, that some of the gentle ballads could offer an internal character monologue, but the songs are aggressively generic." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

“The play, the performances and the production design are all terrifying, witty, humorous, resigned, hopeful and haunting...Gardley’s language is funny, often anachronistic, always potent. Blain-Cruz etches distinct characters...Kelly’s stage movement is fluid and syncopated where necessary, combining contemporary gestures and period steps...A spunky, engaging, sardonic story of women making their way in a society framed by — who else? — men.” Full Review

Log Cabin
Midtown W
The Clyde Fitch Report

"An old-fashioned romantic farce and comedy of manners seen through an early-21st-century social and political lens...A rare and rich dramatic context whose potential remains unrealized...The play takes on profound, small-scale changes in our social and legal acknowledgment of love is love is love. When Harrison skitters off into another joke or unfettered farcical plotting, the depth of feeling is compromised. When his characters hit on enduring truths, however, his speeches resonate." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"Thorne’s painful and beautiful play...Neugebauer keeps the plot turns moving with delicacy and nuance. And it’s mesmerizing...The work seems at peace with allowing characters to tell their stories step by step, word by word...This new play is both heartbreaking and hopeful, presenting a stage of life that’s too long and not long enough. We’re all just doing the best we can." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"'It’s an ensemble that can be balanced delicately...Wolfe’s new revival eschews any such balance, crushing the magical simplicity of O’Neill long tale...Wolfe’s direction is as stiff as a shot from the bar...When staged well, we can enter a community built of the core human need for companionship...Washington’s magnetism cannot force us to feel that feeling, and if it doesn’t exactly leave us ice cold, it’s no more satisfying than watery gin." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"Changing deaf community politics in the four decades since the original production, plus the stilted mechanics of Kenny Leon’s direction, plus the use of supertitles for what is and is not translated using that tool, create a murky mess of a story that might once have resonated but which hasn’t aged well...This is an odd play to revive without adaptations, either in the text or in the staging." Full Review

Admissions
Upper W Side
The Clyde Fitch Report

"“In ‘Admissions,’ white characters talk about race amongst themselves, with challenging results...'Admissions' should have been opened up to depict characters of color first-hand. Still, the play offers a layered, if often troubling visit with white characters discussing race. It’s really Charlie, the adolescent man-boy who so frustrates us with his monumentally self-involved monologues, who lays out the most rational, articulate critiques of white people’s current views of race.” Full Review

An Ordinary Muslim
East Village
The Clyde Fitch Report

"A look back to immigration battles won and lost, and a look ahead to battles of assimilation...If there are too many stories attempting to be told here, there is much to admire in this fresh take on familiar themes, from family violence to marital compromise, all directed with elegance by Jo Bonney...In the end, each 'ordinary Muslim' in the play discovers that assimilation, should they wish it, requires a journey - of the parents to each other; of Saima to her faith; of Azeem to his self-re... Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"Details of her own rich biography are fodder for Kennedy's new, poetic theatrical work...A miniature version of...town is on view in the theater...It subtly theatricalizes the idea of a patriarch's plaything...Live camera work is projected...taking us further into a world of segregated waiting rooms and restrooms...Kennedy's world in the hands of this director, these designers, and this pair of delicate performers is mysterious and poetic - soft edges in a sad story of social engineering." Full Review

Peter Pan
Midtown W
The Clyde Fitch Report

“Portions of the dialogue are told and retold in this ensemble-created script, with sequences often repeated to great effect…The stalwart team of six performers handles many roles and covers rocky terrain — from broad comedy needed for cartoon adults to a delicate touch for childhood fears…Musing on Barrie’s original work in this specific, spare aesthetic, with layers of literary jokes and references to past adaptations, requires prior knowledge of the original." Full Review

M. Butterfly
Midtown W
The Clyde Fitch Report

“Taymor’s elegant revival remains a nuanced, spare, evocative dreamwork...The fourth wall is never up in this world of Taymor’s restrained visuals, multiple narrators, and occasional debates over who has the right to tell the story...Ultimately, a story of equals, a story of lives that change under the politics that frame them...’M. Butterfly’ takes wing as both a hazy romance and clear-eyed tragedy.” Full Review

Tiny Beautiful Things
East Village
The Clyde Fitch Report

"As in all resonant theater, the play provides insight into both the characters on stage and in the audience... Three actors smoothly assume the multiple personalities and stories, fluidly portraying gender and age and offering their voices as a chorus or else in heartbreaking monologues. At the center of it all, Vardalos traces a graceful arc...Dialogue and design are delicately calibrated in 'Tiny Beautiful Things,' supporting a story told in a truly digital space." Full Review

The Treasurer
Midtown W
The Clyde Fitch Report

"This is the fragmented story of a fragmented family coping with the familiar concern of an aging parent...We never learn what makes Ida tick—other than the compulsion to spend more than she has, thus the need for Son to play her treasurer. Hers is a life in decline, and Dunagan gives a layered, marvelously prickly performance...There is such generalized, alienated distance from the emotional core of anyone’s feelings—save Ida’s need for her Son to say that he loves her." Full Review

If Only
West Village
The Clyde Fitch Report

“Full of extraneous exposition blanketing a core of rich yet unrealized possibilities and stilted, fairly sedentary direction by Christopher McElroen…The production is subdued, underplayed, and without an underlying electricity that might be there in the writing but is not on stage in these performances. If only there were two fewer characters. If only the story were more focused…If only the characters were allowed to do more than stand and sit and play with photographs.” Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"A delectable and delicate vaudeville...Six performers stretch their acting, singing and wig-wearing chops...But Mace’s work in this evening of repertory constitutes the spine of the evening...It’s resonant stagecraft without being domineering; it’s a study in evoking full characterizations with small moves and distinct dialect work...The wonder of the evening also comes from the fact that these gems do deserve to live in the light of day...Whatever you do, go see this production." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"There are believable, deep, layered human stories revealed by playwright and four stalwart performers, honed with subtlety and deliberate pacing under Jenn Thompson’s firm directorial hand...The world, in this production of this splendid play, is specific, charming, fearsome, intimate and haunting...Class divisions are tested by human tragedy but rigidly reassert themselves. Sex and physical risk and fear and redemption all combust and resolve, in under two hours. A marvelous creation." Full Review

Fade
West Village
Theater Pizzazz

"Class, culture, language, appropriation, and integrity underscore the quiet power of Saracho’s 'Fade.' A story about storytelling, a play about the creative process, a demonstration of culture meeting commerce and two characters from very different worlds who meet at work...Ruiz’s choreography of these initial interactions and the subtle performance of presumption and quiet decision to put up these 'microagressions' are stunning...The power of this story grows as it is absorbed." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Playwright Athol Fugard directs and conducts the breathtaking hairpin turns in the dialogue rhythms that lull us into revelations...The play feels devastatingly current and resonant in today’s America…An intimate, slow burn of a masterwork. Characters with full and layered lives change in a dramatic instant into social stereotypes, the race and class tensions simmer through civility, and we feel their loneliness and their loss." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"This show packs comedy with pathos and tragedy with laughter in a masterful mixture...Gethard has a vibrant ear for telling description...This narrator is someone you grow quite fond of as the show proceeds...He’s ready for anything, in the moment, in control of the room...This show manages to be a sad, funny, full-throttle, honest, life-giving journey...Timing is everything, and Gethard is a master." Full Review

The Black Crook
Lower E Side
Theater Pizzazz

"A history lesson, a romp, and a reconstruction that attempts a lot and achieves quite a bit...Much competence and multidimensional dexterity is demonstrated by the eight-member cast, from dance flexibility to musicianship to facility with presentational stylistic acting...Whether this 'Black Crook' achieves the aspirations of 'Shuffle Along' and 'Indecent'...it is certainly true that this production frames and stages an essential part of American theater history that is worth a visit." Full Review

The Trojan Women
Soho/Tribeca
Urban Excavations

"Dances are deftly delivered, speeches are articulately delivered, yes. But the depth of experience behind the devastation of the war-torn universe of the play is not quite evoked. I yearned for vocal quality variation…The insistent delivery of meaningful speeches was wearying...Yet, I was pleased to go along this intermission-less ride…And some speeches held me rapt…This adaptation of the myth of real human historical tragedy of war merits multiple productions more." Full Review