Theatre 167 presents the world premiere of Tina Howe's new drama about climate change, aging, and the power of imagination to change the world. More…
As a Category 4 hurricane approaches Singing Beach, the Sleeper clan is struggling with storms of its own. ‘Singing Beach’ is the latest work by Obie Winner, Tony nominee, and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Tina Howe.
"An interesting, dreamlike story...'Singing Beach' itself begins to sing in a joyous, cosmic way. Fick’s set is a beautiful place to experience this story...Kreith takes the characters on an unexpectedly intricate journey. Elodie Lucinda Morss, the youngest performer, carries much of the play. For me, her transformation into a defiant leader is the most striking moment...Tuck Milligan (Grandpa) shows us what we can hear if we truly listen." Full Review
"Director Ari Laura Kreith, artistic director of Theater 167 which has produced the play's world premiere, has not been able to help the actors with their thinly written roles and many of them come across as simply labels. At 75 minutes, the play is probably too short to deliver its messages on the dangers of climate change, dealing with the elderly, and the power of the imagination." Full Review
"It's admirable and timely that Howe addresses several extremely relevant issues of modern life, including her own. However, the timeliness is also the most dominant flaw of both the script and the director's staging. The plot's realistic pivotal points and the fairy tale detours somehow don't mesh, nor are they easy to follow. It's hard to put the blame squarely on the script or the dedicated but uneven performances...It's more disappointing than exhilarating." Full Review
“Howe has not lost her knack for the fascinating detail, poetic yet realistic dialogue, and captivating, eloquent characters…But at a scant 75 minutes, the play feels underdeveloped. The theme of catastrophic climate change mirroring the family’s inner turmoil is touched upon but not fully explored. In addition, Kreith’s staging feels limp and slow…The actors...are tentative and hesitant in their characterizations. This ‘Beach’ could benefit from some further shaping by the playwright.” Full Review
“This Theatre 167 presentation features seven appealing actors…The production, however, has an earnest quality that undermines the magical realism of Howe’s writing, and the pace of the performances is too lackadaisical to be compelling. These weaknesses are most egregious in the conclusion…Kreith and her sound designer Nick Straniere manage only an anemic hum to set the pace for Piper and her posse on their apocalyptic way. Piper and her playwright deserve more than that.” Full Review
"If there's much of value in Howe’s new drama of weathered people on a weathered planet, ‘Singing Beach,’ it's overwhelmed by director Ari Laura Kreith's sluggish production…While ‘Singing Beach’s’ message is an urgent one, the slow-moving production rarely displays an emotional backbone, and requiring a child actor to carry the weight of the drama is a risk that, through no fault of Morss, doesn't pay off.” Full Review
"Howe...does the best she can with this gauzy, windblown capriccio on climate change and dementia. If only she had good direction, or the juvenile roles had been taken by adults...When a script lurches between poles as disparate as domestic naturalism and child’s fantasy, transitions are everything...It’s in these moments where director Kreith’s tin-eared, unhandsome production comes up short...The actors likewise flail...This damp staging smacks too much of kids playing dress-up." Full Review
"Directed by Ari Laura Kreith, the acting is capable but the play's lack of cohesion is apparent and the book is flimsy, even with plenty of references to poetry, religion and culture. The family problems lack depth as does the dramatic impact of what our culture has neglected." Full Review
“Milligan, Beirnard and Weiss are all standouts in their roles. Morss is just too inexperienced to carry a lead, and lacks the emotional depth to make us care for this child’s plight. Our hearts should break for this little girl’s separation from her beloved grandfather and they don’t. Kreith’s direction is a little too frantic and doesn’t really build to a climax…Howe just never lets us know how high the stakes are, and they are high…‘Singing Beach’ just leaves me high and dry.” Full Review
"While it returns to themes and situations Howe has movingly explored in other works, this sometimes absurdist play about a family in crisis splashes and thrashes under Kreith’s direction. It goes under almost from the get-go...Some of the performances feel tentative, almost apologetic, while others feel overly emphatic, suggesting that the actors may not believe in these worlds either. Part of that blame lies with Howe’s script...These characters don’t make much sense." Full Review
"There are worse things than a play going wrong—of course there are. But that perspective may be hard to remember during 'Singing Beach'...The often great Tina Howe has written a heartbroken work about aging...But heartbroken isn’t the same as heartbreaking. Awkward icebergs of exposition slam through the dialogue...Ari Laura Kreith’s fumbling production offers no help. Let the summer tide rise and fall, and may it take this 'Beach' out with it." Full Review
See it if you like experiments in theatre-making, and experimental mind-travels, even if they're not completely successful or fully realized
Don't see it if you need your theatre to be very clear and structured, or if inconsistent acting makes you uncomfortable
See it if you are a fan of Howe's plays, with their fading patrician milieux, eccentric WASPs, and penchant for hiding emotion under brittle repartee.
Don't see it if you want a fully realized design of challenging scenic concept. Shoestring production of a piece that shifts between fantasy and reality.
See it if you enjoy clever staging and unusual plot. Talented cast.
Don't see it if you wish for a less confusing story. There are several plotlines going on, sometimes at same time. Too much going on in too little time.
See it if Kids bickering on the beach. Grandpa with dementia. Climate change, magic realism, and a 10yo girl shall lead them. Why wasn't I warned?
Don't see it if you insist on coherence or important things said about important topics.
See it if You want to hide from the mob for 75 excruciating minutes.
Don't see it if you have reasonable expectations of playwright Tina Howe. You can't stand awful child actors. You can't stand bad magic realism.
See it if You're a fan of Tina Howe and her often surreal yet deeply felt probings into the human experience.
Don't see it if You don't like magic realism. You find jumping back and forth between worlds via short scenes confusing or jarring.
See it if You enjoy the work of Tina Howe!! Very smart play dealing with many current topics skillfully and handled adroitly by a wonderful cast.
Don't see it if If you don't like plays with screaming and where you have to have your brain working.
See it if you want to see universal issues on a personal level, seriousness and silliness at the same time. Tragedy & ultimate hope.
Don't see it if You're uncomfortable with shifting realities, complex wordplay, big issues.
See it if you are a fan of the work of Tina Howe & the often strong work of Theatre 167.
Don't see it if you need a more coherent and dramaturgically sound piece, or a stronger sense of style out of this often times visually flat piece.
See it if a Tina Howe retrospective repackaged as a new play w/ strange dream sequences and eco-disaster elements is your kind of quirky career recap.
Don't see it if young actors get on your nerves, especially when called upon to act out fantasy sequences involving fencing or ice-skating.
See it if You are a friend/family of the cast. You want to see all the work, even substandard, of an excellent playwright. I really wanted to like it
Don't see it if Like cogent coherent plays well performed. At times I felt I was watching the winner of a high school competition - Great intentions but..
See it if You like creativity and thought provoking theater. The staging was beautifully done. Tina Howe weaves her story through real life pain.
Don't see it if You aren't comfortable with painful decisions of life, especially someone else's life. Don't see it if you cannot follow dreams and reality.
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