Wendy Caster

Wendy Caster is a critic with Show Showdown. 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 (91)
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"Curse words sung operatically by incredibly talented people are startlingly funny. And arguments about who's cheating on who are also great fun presented operatically. But they have diminishing returns, and, although I completely was completely enjoying the first act...I began to wonder if it goes anywhere...It does...And, yes, it's a blast...Much of the music is beautiful...The cast is full of amazingly talented people who can sing magnificently, act well, and move." Full Review

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"Gardley is a powerful and poetic writer, and 'X' is well worth a visit. However, the play is also overwritten, with much repetition and a framing device and songs that are wonderful in themselves but also slow down the play. 'X' is full of strengths but ultimately uneven; I suspect that, with judicious cutting, it would be brilliant. Director Ian Belknap maximizes X's strengths through dynamic, imaginative, and beautifully paced direction. The cast is excellent." Full Review

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"It's a lovely evening in the theater, if not quite Shakespeare's version of the play; I suspect Shakespeare would enjoy it...The Mobile Unit chooses to focus mostly on the fun...The rest of cast is also impressive, full of energy, acting talent, and beautiful singing voices...'The Winter's Tale' is smoothly directed by Lee Sunday Evans, with great imagination and humor. Catch it if you can--free Shakespeare, well-done, is a beautiful thing." Full Review

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"In some ways it is dated--many people are living long lives with HIV--and in some ways it is not--friendship, denial, and grief will never go out of style. 'Lonely Planet's' main strength is its elliptical approach to death and grieving, along with the ability to represent an epidemic through two characters...This production is mostly solid, but not totally...Despite its faults, its strengths ultimately outweigh its weaknesses." Full Review

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"Throw in the passage of years, a little jumping around in time, a soupçon of metaphysical philosophy, smart and insightful writing, wonderful design elements, smooth direction (Rebecca Taichman) and a largely first-class ensemble, and you have an excellent and surprisingly contemporary evening in the theater. One thing: Elizabeth McGovern should not have gotten a solo bow. Not only is 'Time and the Conways' an ensemble piece, but McGovern is far from the best thing in it." Full Review

The Treasurer
Midtown W
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"It can take a while to realize that there is very little there there...It distances itself from truly engaging the audience by having few face-to-face encounters, by using a cold and unattractive set, and by failing to establish the characters' personalities...Dunagan and Friedman do much to provide complexity and humanity, but the play limits their ability to draw truly human characters...'The Treasurer' relies on a sense of its own importance, and little more." Full Review

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“It's as good as everyone says…Author Lucas Hnath tells his story with humor and compassion; Sam Gold directs smoothly and smartly. The cast is excellent: Julie White is snappy yet vulnerable as Nora; Stephen McKinley Henderson is a surprisingly human Torvald; Jayne Houdyshell is her usual wonderful self as the maid who brought up Nora (and is quick to point out that she brought up Nora's kids as well); and Erin Wilhelmi is close to perfect as Nora's sweetly passive-aggressive daughter.” Full Review

If Only
West Village
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"Begins with the clumsy device of having Ann Astorcott read a story from her journal to her ward. This exposition-dump is a slow way to begin a play...;'If Only' comes across more as a history lesson than a love story...McElroen's direction does no favors to Klingenstein's play, which, while clunky, could have more life to it. It's hard to judge how good or bad the performers are, but if Gilbert and Smaltz had more—or any—chemistry, the production would be much improved." Full Review

Van Gogh's Ear
Midtown W
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"'Van Gogh's Ear' is one of the most thoughtful and elegant shows I have ever seen, and I really, really, really wanted to like it. Unfortunately, the show is boring...The direction features painfully slow pacing that aims for meditative but achieves dull...Hudson also lacks the intense spark of the insane genius...If you are really into van Gogh...and if you're okay with ponderous pacing, you might want to completely ignore this review. There's a lot of talent and beauty here." Full Review

The Lucky One
Midtown W
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"Milne has some insightful and surprising things to say...Unfortunately, he doesn't get around to saying them until the third act. Until then, the play slogs along, relying too much on embarrassing 'comic relief' and predictable drama...That third act springs to life. The show becomes thoughtful, thought-provoking, and compelling...It almost seemed that director Jesse Marchese asked the actors to eliminate all subtext and subtlety until late in the play." Full Review

Dear World
Midtown E
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"This production was a total delight. Tyne Daly took the lead role of Countess Aurelia, and she was nothing short of magical...It is full of romance and humor and some excellent songs from Jerry Herman...The trio sung by the three madwomen is as much fun as anything you'll see on a stage, and Daly, Alison Fraser, and Ann Harada nailed it. The rest of the cast was also excellent, with some gorgeous, gorgeous voices." Full Review

Escaped Alone
Brooklyn
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"Caryl Churchill's brilliant, bizarre, puzzling, horrifying, and strangely sweet 'Escaped Alone' packs the punch of a major dystopia into its lean 55 minutes...The production couldn't be better. All four actresses are wonderful, and Linda Bassett's chummy approach to stories of complete disaster is perfect. Director James Macdonald makes an ideal partner for Churchill in terms of economy, clarity, humorous horror, and brilliance...A concentrated marvel. See it if you can." Full Review

Yours Unfaithfully
Midtown W
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"Malleson starts a little too in media res for my taste...For me, this leaves too many questions unanswered...It's too bad, too, because much of the play is fascinating...It doesn't help that Max von Essen, an actor I usually enjoy, fails to fully inhabit Stephen...The main redeeming feature of the production is Elisabeth Gray's completely believable, subtle, and smart performance as Anne...I guess some of the weak acting must be the fault of director Jonathan Bank." Full Review

Coriolanus
West Village
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"The similarities to today are perhaps over-emphasized--no one would have missed them!--but it doesn't hurt the excellent production. The production's main strength is a relentless energy that pulls the audience from scene to scene...On the other hand, it has a cost. Actors play multiple characters, and it isn't always clear who's who...However, this 'Coriolanus' is one of the most emotionally rewarding productions of Shakespeare I've seen in a while." Full Review

Rizing
Soho/Tribeca
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"As a zombie drama, 'Rizing' has much going for it...While 'Rizing' is entertaining to watch (albeit at least 20 minutes too long), its lack of focus distances it from the audience. There are too many story lines, and they add up to less than the sum of their parts...'Rizing' is largely well-acted and well-directed, although I found myself occasionally laughing at, rather than with, some of the directorial devices...While I had reservations about 'Rizing', it was still well worth seeing." Full Review

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"Aaron Posner's 21st-century riff/recreation of 'The Seagull,' is well-directed, well-acted, well-designed, and a great deal of fun. Its meta approach, with actors speaking directly to the audience, silly songs, and a fresh point of view, brings energy to the familiar story...But beside entertainment--which is, of course, nothing to sneeze at--'Stupid Fucking Bird' offers little...It's a light and amiable romp, which is also nothing the sneeze at. It just seems to want to be more." Full Review

Women Without Men
Midtown W
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"Ellis's writing is subtle and smart, and she knows that humans are not heroes or villains but fallible and needy. As she vividly delineates the way that need shrinks people's souls, she is sometimes, perhaps, overly bleak...The production at The Mint is up to the usual high standards. Jenn Thompson provides smooth direction, and the cast is strong." Full Review

Utility
West Village
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"In her quietly vivid play, Schwend shows us the straight jacket that is working poverty…There's not a lot that is new here, and some of the scenes sound altogether too familiar. But Schwend cares about her characters, and over time, we do too. Toward the end of the play, there are a few scenes that raise 'Utility' to a higher level." Full Review

Rothschild & Sons
Midtown E
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"Does it work? No. And yes....The core of the show remains solid. The rise of the Rothschilds remains amazing; the score remains excellent. Very few changes could well solve most of the problems. Unfortunately, the current production at the York Theatre is poorly directed by Jeffrey B. Moss with awkward pacing, a lack of focus, and acceptance of some truly awful overacting." Full Review

The New Morality
Midtown W
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"'The New Morality' is a fast-moving 1:50 that goes down like cotton candy...Director Jonathan Bank's work is my favorite sort of direction: all decisions are made in honor of the play... Plays like 'The New Morality' aren't written anymore, but they have much to offer and should be seen. So, once again, thanks to the invaluable Mint." Full Review

The Honeycomb Trilogy
West Village
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for a previous production :The plot of 'Blast Radius' is compelling and absorbing. Rogers manages to tell a fascinating story; introduce a range of vividly etched characters; provoke thoughts about humanity, bravery, identity, values, relationships, and procreation; elicit some tears; and be quite funny. It's an impressive feat...The show isn't perfect...But, really, who cares? 'Blast Radius' is an impressive and passionately entertaining evening in the theatre. That's what matters." Full Review

Show Showdown

"'A New Brain,' for all of its many strengths, is a flabby sort of musical..Most of the songs are pretty wonderful. However, the overall musical is less so. The main problem, for me, is the lack of real stakes--there is never any doubt that Gordon is going to live and prosper...Luckily, the Gallery Players can overcome one tone deaf apple, and, as with all of their musicals, this one is solid and smoothly directed." Full Review

Hindle Wakes
Midtown W
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“A fascinating balance between, on one hand, three-dimensional characters with full-blown conflicts and, on the other, ideas about society, relationships, and, yes, sex...The result is fascinating, involving, surprising, and funny...The show is well-performed...The direction by Gus Kaikkonen is smooth and unobtrusive, with a slight tendency to shtick. The design aspects are first-rate...Houghton unfortunately died at 32...Thanks to The Mint for giving him his due in this wonderful production.” Full Review

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"Largely succeeds in getting laughs...Bad news: it's often difficult to impossible to hear what's going on...'Shame of Thrones' is a pretty fun couple of hours and I suspect it could be a very fun couple of hours if all the jokes and singing could be heard. The cast ranges from D+ to B+; happily, there are more of the latter than the former...I would recommend the show to anyone who knows and loves 'Game of Thrones.'" Full Review

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"A play must work on its own terms, and unfortunately, 'Am I Dead?' is preachy, repetitive, and heavy-handed. It outlines its messages in bold and italic again and again, and good theatrical moments go from being hard-hitting and impressive to boring and even annoying. Perhaps the biggest flaw is that it lacks compassion...It's a theatrical necessity for the play to work. Presented without compassion, the main characters become flat." Full Review

The Show-Off
Midtown W
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"The Peccadillo's production of Kelly's odd but effective comedy is more than solid. It is wry and real, and it manages to show the play's relevance to today while never betraying its place in the past...Kelly's excellent writing is fabulously supported by Wackerman's direction and the wonderful acting of, in particular, O'Toole as Amy's humorously frustrated mother Mrs. Fisher and Hudson as Amy's sister Clara, who cannot figure out why her husband doesn't quite love her." Full Review

Mary Jane
East Village
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"Subtly and smartly written by Amy Herzog, subtly and smartly directed by Anne Kauffman, and subtly and smartly acted by Carrie Coon, Liza Colon-Zayas, Danaya Esperanza, Susan Pourfar, and Brenda Wehle, 'Mary Jane' is one of those great evenings in the theater when the whole is larger than the sum of its parts, and its parts are damn good...There is much humor in the play, and tremendous compassion. It's exhausting, devastating, and beautiful." Full Review

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"There is much talent and intelligence in this production of 'I Am Antigone.' Some of the writing is beautiful, and Nicole Ansari is a strong and convincing Antigone...But this Antigone has a few serious problems. First, it is uneven in tone, to the point of fighting against itself. Director Myriam Cyr often makes inappropriately playful use of the chorus, with cutesy posing and face-making...Second, it gets preachy toward the end...And last, it is just too long, with too much repetition." Full Review

Show Showdown

“Overall, the cast is excellent, and I imagine they must have a blast playing all their roles, particularly Deaver, who gets to play three distinctly different and fascinating women and does so beautifully. Also outstanding is Mace, who takes four relatively small parts and makes them distinct and textured and real…And Bank's direction pulled everything together expertly, giving us a wonderful sense of Deevy's great skill and compassion and a first-class evening in the theatre.” Full Review

Arcadia (PTP)
Chelsea
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"Well done, largely thanks to Faraone's smart, clear, well-paced, and compassionate direction...The show is extremely funny, with twists and turns on top of twists and turns, and more themes than one play should be able to handle...The cast ranges from good enough to quite good...The PTP 'Arcadia' was the first where I found the modern scenes almost as wonderful as the ones in the 1800s...Not without its flaws, but it is a must-see for any Stoppard fan." Full Review

Sunset Boulevard
Midtown W
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“Glenn Close's performance is extraordinary. Perhaps even priceless. But worth $299?...The show just isn't that good. Most of the sections that focus on Norma, Joe (Michael Xavier), Max (Fred Johanson), and Betty (Siobhan Dillon) are strong, particularly as played by this excellent cast. But the parties and other filler scenes are tedious. Many of the songs are indistinguishable from each other and dozens of other Lloyd Webber creations. The choreography is lame.” Full Review

All The Fine Boys
Midtown W
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"Schmidt's excellent and disturbing (and surprisingly funny) new play...It's a cliche to call a play thought-provoking, but I've been thinking about 'All the Fine Boys' frequently since I saw it; it has provoked a lot of thoughts...The performances are quite good, but the casting is perhaps a little off...Schmidt's direction of her play is smooth, well-paced, and unobtrusive. Authors aren't always their own best directors, but Schmidt-the-director respects and gets Schmidt-the-writer." Full Review

Show Showdown

"Amidst the madcap goings-on, wonderful duels, and grin-producing theatricality, there is always the serious business at hand: ridding the world of a self-centered, foolish, squeamish, idiot of a king...95 minutes of first-class writing, acting, and directing. Particular kudos must go to director Kelly O'Donnell and fight director Rocio Mendez whose combined theatrical creativity provides the joy of a farce without a door in sight to be slammed." Full Review

Show Showdown

"Beautifully directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson...Painfully timely, even though it takes place in 1977...While simple descriptions of the characters might sound like cliches or types, in Wilson's hands they are fully dimensional and heartbreakingly real...The production is first-class...The cast is amazing, with John Douglas Thompson the first among equals." Full Review

Universal Robots
East Village
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"Universal Robots' brims with riches. It is funny, moving, thought-provoking, and heartbreaking. It can be enjoyed on many levels, from not-so-simple entertainment to a treatise on humanity. It is filled with throwaway jokes, fascinating characters, and warnings about the future. 'Universal Robots' is not without imperfections. It takes too long to get started...Some actors have not found the exact right calibration in their performances...Otherwise the show is quite well-directed and acted." Full Review

Echoes
Midtown E
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"Earnest and well-acted…Despite being full of incident, the play never quite gels as theatre, and the politics are heavy-handed. Both husbands are one-dimensional creations; both women's situations come across as Women's Oppression 101 rather than the lived experiences of real individuals. Not to say that the stories aren't convincing, but they're not presented theatrically. The situations are effectively awful, but as lectures not a play." Full Review

Dry Powder
East Village
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"Here's what I liked about 'Dry Power,' Sarah Burgess's predictable, unimaginative, and lame incitement of high finance: the women in the crew wore black cocktail dresses when they moved the (unimpressive, ugly) scenery…To call 'Dry Powder' one-dimensional would be to compliment it…That Thomas Kail directed 'Dry Powder' so badly is astonishing...A play having a particular point of view is not enough. It also needs, oh, subtlety and insight...An interesting plot wouldn't hurt either." Full Review

Buried Child
Midtown W
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"Shepard's play melds naturalism and symbolism, with each character's flaws representing something larger and deeper...Fights are fought and secrets are told, but in 'Buried Child' the truth remains elusive, and redemption is not on the menu...I wish the other performances were up to [Ed Harris'] subtle, real, weirdly beautiful turn. Not that the others are bad--in fact, most are excellent. However, under Scott Elliot's uneven direction, they sometimes seem to be in different plays." Full Review

Songbird
Midtown E
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"The book is effective and the songs soar. There's just one problem: they don't add up to a musical. The entire score is diegetic, which doesn't have to be a negative, but in this case it is...The more I think about it, the more I would prefer to see an evening just of Lauren Pritchard's work, sung by those terrific singers. 'The Seagull' plot kinda got in the way." Full Review

Cloud Nine
Chelsea
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"'Cloud Nine,' Caryl Churchill's brilliant riff on sexual politics, colonialism, identity, and love, is receiving an excellent revival at the Atlantic, directed with a sure hand by James Macdonald...It's strange to live long enough for a favorite play to morph from immediate and contemporary into historical. I'm glad the transition has happened in such good hands." Full Review

Show Showdown

"Not-so-well-done political theatre can be pretty tedious, as shown by the pair of one acts now at PTP/NYC...If 'Judith' had had more dimension, and 'Vinegar Tom' had stopped announcing its meaning, this could have been a tremendously exciting evening." Full Review