Toby Zinman

Toby Zinman is a critic with Philadelphia Inquirer. 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 (43)
Life Sucks.
Midtown W
Philadelphia Inquirer

"A self-help talk-show version of this magnificent play, one that requires audience participation in the most cringeworthy of ways, and embarasses itself in the process. Jeff Wise directs with a shamelessly heavy hand, flirting with cute...The actors — a cast that might have been good in a good play — are arch and metatheatrical...Why wreck Chekhov in the process of showing us what we already know?" Full Review

Tootsie (NYC)
Midtown W
Philadelphia Inquirer

"This delightful musical comedy based on the beloved movie, manages to make the story of a man dressing up as a woman in order to get a job not only politically viable but wise...The music is wonderfully varied — a patter song, a love ballad, a chorus line number — and the lyrics by David Yazbek are both clever and, best of all, absolutely intelligible, so none of the wit is wasted. Robert Horn wrote the excellent book, with solid character development plus insider theater jokes." Full Review

Philadelphia Inquirer

“Jackson gives a magnificent performance...This is not just a family drama, but a political drama as well, with obvious contemporary reverberations...Several elements of the production distract us from the devastation of that world, by adding distractingly fascinating sign language. But more irritating is the onstage string quartet...This annoyingly cues each emotional high point, and, worse, competes with the speaking voices.” Full Review

White Noise
East Village
Philadelphia Inquirer

“’White Noise’ asks big. Very big...This thrilling and exhausting play has four characters...Act 2 gives us monologues...These solos are so eloquently written, so beautifully delivered, that we are startled by one insight after another, awash in both sympathy and guilt and anger. Eustis directs with masterful hand, meeting every theatrical demand Parks’ script places on him...To say more would spoil the plot’s revelations. Enough to say: Go see it.” Full Review

Philadelphia Inquirer

"A great work of American theater...The cast is powerfully, convincingly, alive, both in Scout’s memory as she narrates and for us as these actors fully inhabit their roles...Daniels is splendid. He has added a trace of weakness and a whiff of shame to the lovable, admirable character...Sorkin’s script is deft as well as fine." Full Review

Torch Song (NYC)
Midtown W
Philadelphia Inquirer

“A very funny sit-com rather than a daring expose of painful truths...But unlike most sit-coms, ‘Torch Song’ contains genuine drama: characters are fully drawn and solidly portrayed; it has serious and moving moments as well as hilarious bits, and the show refuses to resolve everything too tidily...The excellent and revealing sets...tellingly providing a platform for some terrific acting under the solid direction of Kaufman." Full Review

The Nap (Broadway)
Midtown W
Philadelphia Inquirer

"The show is neither very funny nor very suspenseful...Act 2 has some ingenious staging: The audience is able to watch the final rounds of the championship match through a live-streaming projection above the snooker table onstage...There is a big plot reveal, in one last attempt to snooker us all...Daniel Sullivan directed; Kay Voyce designed the too-obvious costumes; David Rockwell created the clever sets." Full Review

Philadelphia Inquirer

"Shaw was always on Eliza's side, and with Sher's brilliant directorial decisions, the bullies and dolts are left in the melodic dust...Ambrose is a delightful Eliza; she has a soaring voice, and she provides flawless accents in a plot that's about accents...Hadden-Paton is a superb and witty bully...The huge cast is full of great voices and impeccable diction; their timing, especially in the wondrous 'Ascot Gavotte,' is hilarious perfection." Full Review

Philadelphia Inquirer

"A great play in a superb production...A dream cast...This tragicomic meditation on growing old is not to be missed...Mantello's fine direction wisely erases the intermission between the script's two acts...The rhythms of each actor's speech create another sub-drama, although Jackson's ability to lend meaning to every syllable - what a voice! - dominates the play, as it should. And what Metcalf can do with a pause." Full Review

Mankind
Midtown W
Philadelphia Inquirer

“Robert O’Hara takes up the feminist cudgel and beats to death the title of his new play, that misogynistic synonym for humanity...What begins as a potentially clever idea soon turns tedious...‘Mankind’s’ scattershot, kitchen-sink approach undermines whatever social indictment O’Hara had in mind...Morally vacant, humorless, and stretched to fill two hours by long quasi-liturgical rituals that require audience participation, ‘Mankind’ merely wink-winks at important issues." Full Review

Philadelphia Inquirer

"A thrilling new play...The contemporary relevance is chilling...A cast of seven exceptional actors, playing multiple roles under the supple direction of Giovanna Sardelli...Gorgeously theatrical, profound, and engrossing. And funny, if you like mordant jokes about dead ducks and leech soup. It is a terrific challenge to keep track of the relationships and linked identities...'Describe the Night' is a provocation to thought, both philosophical and political." Full Review

M. Butterfly
Midtown W
Philadelphia Inquirer

"'M. Butterfly,' always a history play, has become more distant in time, more remote in attitudes...Taymor undermines all the script’s rich subtleties by adding a fatal dose of sentimentality...The play’s edge has dulled with time and with Taymor’s direction; like the overlong Maoist production numbers, it creates a too-blatant tone...Basic to 'M. Butterfly' is the duality basic to all theater—people pretending to be other people—a pleasure largely lost in the surprisingly dull revival." Full Review

Philadelphia Inquirer

"Four lovely one-acts...An evening rich in human nature: love and longing and desperation and danger and disappointment, all embodied in these delicate vignettes, so charming, so full of surprises and of insight. Like a quick-sketch artist, Deevy creates character right before our eyes...We are helped in our imaginings by this pitch-perfect cast, who can shift from role to role and become nearly unrecognizable from play to play." Full Review

Philadelphia Inquirer

"An entertaining if not especially revelatory evening in the theater...Directed with uncharacteristic obviousness by the usually understated Sam Gold, the starry cast spends most of the time facing us, delivering set pieces. Especially surprising in this blatantness is Laurie Metcalf hamming it up in her liberated Nora...Cooper’s Torvald is the clever surprise...The show is fun in its wink-wink, nudge-nudge references to the original play and the gaps among various verbal styles." Full Review

Vanity Fair
Midtown W
Philadelphia Inquirer

“A marvelous production…Except for the two women, the rest of the wildly accomplished cast play multiple roles. They all shift from character to character and gender to gender, with high-precision timing…Directed by Eric Tucker with a featherlight touch and a lively tempo, it becomes all the more remarkable that we are, from time to time, caught up in the plot, moved by events, worried about the characters’ fortunes, and eager to know what happens next.” Full Review

A Life
Midtown W
Philadelphia Inquirer

"For anybody who hasn’t heard that life can be a) lonely b) meaningless c) boring, 'A Life' is for you...I suspect that the play wants to ennoble the ordinariness and make it profound, but the effect was more to annoy, especially with the cheap, easy laughs about gay men sitting on a park bench admiring joggers’ muscles or a multi-page to-do list... At a run time of 85 minutes, this seemed to take a lifetime." Full Review

Public Enemy
Midtown W
Philadelphia Inquirer

"David Harrower has revised Ibsen’s text and given us a short, punchy ninety-minute version, now in an engrossing production...Hal Brooks’ direction brings up the houselights and has Stockmann accuse the audience, turning the play into a faux political rally. It strikes me that Harrower has streamlined the play but not dramatized it...The interpretation careens from noble whistleblower to egotistical demagogue, leaving me wondering if there’s anybody worth rooting for." Full Review

Prodigal Son
Midtown W
Philadelphia Inquirer

"It's pure Shanley: big ideas embedded in lots of impassioned and sometimes funny dialogue spoken by characters you feel you know...In the central role of Jim, Timothee Chalamet is terrific—every tilt of his head and slump of his shoulders is perfectly calibrated to construct this character—a brilliant boy who reads intensely, greedy for ideas, desperate to grow up to be a hero, and tormented by adolescent angst...Nostalgia without sentimentality: a nice combination." Full Review

Exit Strategy
West Village
Philadelphia Inquirer

for a previous production "It's a rare play that can entertain you and outrage you simultaneously, but that's just what 'Exit Strategy' does...The entire cast is topnotch, flirting with stereotypes, but passionate and skilled enough to step back from that edge. Holter's characters are sufficiently complex so as to avoid easy consolations as he forces us to keep reevaluating everyone. Kip Fagan directs with electric speed and lots of driving music during scene breaks." Full Review

Fool For Love
Midtown W
Philadelphia Inquirer

"The pace seems much too measured, not even remotely relentless since much of the danger has been choreographed out of it...The play has been kept at a distance—literally and figuratively- from the audience...A big Broadway house may not be the right venue for this intensely intimate play." Full Review

The Qualms
Midtown W
Philadelphia Inquirer

"Bruce Norris: Master of Bickering. Like his earlier, Pulitzer-winning, Tony-winning play, Clybourne Park, his new but not-so-funny comedy, 'The Qualms,' is about a small group of people, gathered together, whose conversation deteriorates into sneering, and whose claims to honesty disintegrate into judgmental sniping. This time, it's not a real estate they're bickering about, but sex....'The Qualms' is a lightweight play, a watchable but forgettable ninety-five minutes." Full Review

The Flick
West Village
Philadelphia Inquirer

"The emphasis is on visual image, not dialogue; film, as Edward Albee has said, hates words, and theatre loves them. The pauses here are of astonishing length—Pinter, in his wildest dreams, never risked this...I am enchanted and mystified by this long, long, fine, fine play that refuses to pander to either our need for sentimental reassurances or our impatience. 3¼ hours seems just right." Full Review

Happy Talk
Midtown W
Philadelphia Inquirer

"This play is full of awful people, and despite a great cast and some smart laugh lines, the awfulness grates on your nerves. I’d hoped for the 'Kiss Me, Kate' effect, where the frame play plays with the famous play, and although the songs from 'South Pacific' are motivic here, and although there is some obvious if feeble link between Lorraine’s matchmaking and Bloody Mary’s, none of it seems to matter much...'Happy Talk' is long on talk, and very short on happy." Full Review

Philadelphia Inquirer

"Occasionally Whishaw will strum a vague ditty on a violin and Fleming will drone a semi-musical choral ode. If you’ve come for Fleming’s magnificent voice, you will be disappointed...To tell you the truth, I have no idea what this show is about. Maybe it’s an anti-war statement, or maybe it’s an analysis of the male construct of female beauty. Maybe it’s an anti-celebrity statement...Maybe this is an indictment of our perspective on cultural history." Full Review

Philadelphia Inquirer

"A major theatrical event not to be missed...All these characters are played by the same three actors...We come to know all these characters intimately and feel various sympathies for them...Because it is told from their point of view, it doesn’t traffic in moral judgements, nor does it invite ours. We are simply there, in it, with them, marvelling at their ingenuity, their eccentricities, their brilliance." Full Review

Daddy
Midtown W
Philadelphia Inquirer

"The key to this idea-crammed, emotion-stuffed play lies in its title...'Daddy' is both intriguing and heartbreaking...If 'Daddy' is a little excessive, it is a youthful, passionate flaw...This is a play about art and race and sex and religion and wealth. Mostly it’s a play about family, and director Danya Taymor gives us three families of three in a fine final tableau." Full Review

King Kong (NYC)
Midtown W
Philadelphia Inquirer

"A knockout of a show, managing to move us to sympathy, scare us, and dazzle us with stagecraft all at once. To praise the show as a 'musical' might be a slight exaggeration, since the songs aren’t much good — neither tuneful nor interesting — and the singers and dancers are only adequate. Which leaves us with the star of the show, King Kong, a stunning example of 'extreme puppetry'...I imagine that there will be those who scoff, but I had too much fun.” Full Review

Mother of the Maid
East Village
Philadelphia Inquirer

“What a waste of a good idea...Working against the inherent drama of a heroic girl being burned at the stake is the broad...Close punches every line – too loud and too deliberate to sound like anybody speaking in her own house... Joan, Grace Van Patten seems neither holy nor teenage...Anderson’s script is as superficial as Penn’s direction; he encourages laugh lines and wooden speechmaking, so playwright and director seem well-matched. " Full Review

Philadelphia Inquirer

“Sly but rambunctious, big-hearted but snarky: ‘Head over Heels’ now at the Hudson Theatre, is the new bizarre musical on Broadway...This is a good-time show, smart and loud and colorful, with a terrific cast and a great all-girls rock band banging out the beat behind the upstage wall...Under Michael Mayer’s direction, these very game actors are, without exception, a pleasure to watch and listen to.” Full Review

Philadelphia Inquirer

"Rashad is a deeply engaging Joan; her elegant rendering of this difficult young woman is made especially notable by her eloquent and graceful hands...As a warrior she swaggers, but she can also be adorably girlish and naïve...The wittiness of the language as well as the wittiness of the performances reveal that irresistible Shavian charm as well as his genius for provocative argument...Under Sullivan’s profound as well as clever direction, the focus remains sharply and clearly on the debate." Full Review

Good for Otto
Midtown W
Philadelphia Inquirer

"The play is far more philosophical than psychological...Largely narrated and so only partially dramatized, adding to its leisurely quality, piling on details that only sometimes pay off. As is obvious from the list of 14 characters, there is too much stuffed into this rambling, overlong play. Scott Elliott's direction doesn't find a way to make it taut and give it more punch, leaving us awash in human gloom, despite Otto's motto: 'Fortune favors the brave.'" Full Review

Philadelphia Inquirer

"This is what they mean by theater magic: the spellbinding performance of a great actor in a fairytale setting, leaving the audience besotted with melancholy and joy...And, besides all this to munch on, 'Farinelli and the King' is enchanting to look at...The last scene is achingly beautiful, one of those rare theater experiences in which you feel yourself to be in the presence of so much truth and beauty that you want to see it all over again." Full Review

Peter Pan
Midtown W
Philadelphia Inquirer

"'Peter Pan’ is almost as ripe for Bedlam treatment...Heberlee finds just the right combintion of boyishness and sexiness for his Peter Pan. In his first encounter with Wendy, he seems not to know what a 'kiss' is...The seductive silence is sensational...Only this show shows us that the story we were hearing all this time had untold layers.” Full Review

Marx in Soho
Soho/Tribeca
Philadelphia Inquirer

for a previous production "It isn’t really a play at all, but rather a 70-minute harangue...Zinn's passion for a more equitable world is intense, and the show is a ringing indictment of the status quo, of the greed-driven Western world...Weick's performance is filled with passionate intensity...If I admire Marx’s ideas, I don’t find much to admire in the man. Weick’s diction is often stilted, and his vehemence seems a cliché...Marx’s outrage is the outrage of John Oliver without the humor or the speed or the wit." Full Review

Dogs of Rwanda
Chelsea
Philadelphia Inquirer

for a previous production "This play is a fascinating and exhausting hourlong monologue, performed with great power and subtlety by Dan Hodge. The gruesome details and the action-filled chronicle are riveting — an enormous challenge in a solo show...Hodge, master of the sickly smile, never simplifies or illustrates; this is acting that refuses to be seen as acting...Lewis’ 'Dogs of Rwanda' is filled with small motivic links that knit the play together, far more complex effects than I could catch in one viewing." Full Review

The Antipodes
Midtown W
Theater News Online

“Peculiarly undramatic. Every signature Annie Baker quirk is here: the odd, affectless characters (who here reveal themselves to be boring instead of complex and sympathetic), long silences (here vacant rather than pregnant), plot tangents that intrigue (but here veer off into oblivion)...During the course of two hours we watch a fine cast, under the dreary direction of Lila Neugebauer, with too little to do…Where is the ravishing and heartbreaking popcorn sweeping of ‘The Flick?’” Full Review

Philadelphia Inquirer

"Prepare to swoon. This opulent revival is delectably seductive, a theatrical pleasure with two consummate actors seducing each other and everyone else they can find, especially us. Josie Rourke directs this long, luscious play by creating superb stage pictures, arranging the characters with shrewd delicacy...They are delectable in their plotting, wicked in their amusements, and heartless in their sport-sex." Full Review

Philadelphia Inquirer

"This little musical is a treat...Good music, clever lyrics. A plot where hope and hard work are rewarded, but, sensibly and realistically, not always...The cast all have wonderfully expressive faces, strong voices that harmonize well, and they never waste the smart lyrics...Directed with obvious affection by Jonathan Silverstein, 'Tick, Tick…Boom!' doesn’t feel nearly as dated as it should, and speaks to anybody who loves the spirit of musical theatre." Full Review

Philadelphia Inquirer

for a previous production "A brilliant theatrical commentary on contemporary race relations…’Underground Railroad Game’ is both wildly entertaining and profoundly troubling…Under Taibi Magar’s direction, the two brave actors play with and mock their own and each other’s physical presences...All the while they craft characters within characters. We watch layers piled on and then layers peeled away." Full Review

Sense & Sensibility
West Village
Philadelphia Inquirer

for a previous production "The Bedlam Theatre Company's radical, experimental, hilarious, lovable and altogether excellent adaptation for the stage. It's Downton Abbey on roller skates, a rock-n-roll minuet, complete with curls and caps and corsets. Bedlam Theatre, an off-Broadway powerhouse, is a collective of actors of such finesse, such flexibility, such charm, such precision, as to just about redefine ensemble...'Sense and Sensibility' provides a splendid evening in the theater." Full Review

The Changeling
West Village
Philadelphia Inquirer

"In a terrific production by Red Bull Theater, this drama of love and loathing is given a fine and very enjoyable revival. Director Jesse Berger has managed the essential trick: avoid the slightest whiff of parody, and play it to the hilt…The plot and sub-plots are wildly complicated, but the theme is obvious: erotic love can drive you crazy." Full Review

Significant Other
Midtown W
Philadelphia Inquirer

for a previous production "Three weddings and a pity party. That pretty much describes Joshua Harmon's new play. Unlike his funny and insightful 'Bad Jews', 'Significant Other' is notable only for its lack of significance, others notwithstanding. A shallow play about shallow people, it presents pathos for our amusement/admiration/sympathy...Two hours in the company of these people is really two too many." Full Review

The Spoils
Midtown W
Philadelphia Inquirer

"Whether the conclusion is redemptive or disastrous is left perfectly, suitably, ambiguous. And that inconclusiveness is part of what makes this play feel so contemporary...The dialogue sounds absolutely authentic, as does the pitch perfect delivery of that dialogue— with just the kind of running jokes a group of smart friends would have—together with body language that speaks a world of meaning." Full Review