Theater

  • HA!

    In Tandem Theatre Company marks their 10th Anniversary with the Midwest premiere of HA! Along with this premiere, the company also debuts their permanent residence at Tenth Street Theater, a few steps underground below a red brick church on Wisconsin Avenue near Marquette University. By opening weekend, In Tandem had finally received temporary occupancy. But even with unfinished features, the high ceilings, cathedral arched doorways and comfortable in-the-round theater will certainly provide the now-established troupe with an elegant space enabling their mission to enlighten, inspire, provoke, and entertain. Rich Orloff’s HA! pursues these themes with three distinctly different yet connected acts of theater. As a playwright, Orloff has won multiple awards for his comedies, and was most recently honored with a 2003 Dramatists Guild Fellowship. This particular play represents his comedic timing, but with biting “a-ha” moments. The first act sets a scene in ancient Greece, with the court of King Oedipus putting a politically correct spin on this unusual crisis in leadership. Act II moves to January 5, 1905, “when the snow in Russia turned red,” looking at this violent act from several points of view including the Russian aristocracy and their servants. The third act develops in a classroom, as a young student attempts to defend his ‘Master of Universe’ degree by designing a complete ecosystem named Earth. Its supreme element, the human being, is called before his professors, who will give him his final grade. At first impression, the entire play appears to be an extended riff on Saturday Night Live, but beneath the humorous lines are buried truths and thoughts worth contemplating. The cast, playing multiple roles, inclues actors Parker Drew, Simon Jon Provan, Kevin Rich and Jacque Troy as well as supporting cast members Jack Lee and Michelle Waide, and together they carry the comedy well. Under Chris Flieller’s direction, time and thought is given both to both laughter and the more controversial subject material. In two hours, HA! creates smiles but also plenty of conversation afterwards if the audience is willing. Several characters offer humorous “insight into the human condition,” asking “why human beings, given all the recipes and resources for paradise, were deemed impractical but at least biodegradable?” This series of comedic moments inspires and provokes, presenting a thoroughly happy 10th Anniversary for In Tandem. Celebrating in their new home on Tenth Street, HA! continues their theater traditions with wit and style. In Tandem Theatre Company continues presentingHA!through October 21 at Tenth Street Theater, 628 North Tenth Street, Milwaukee. For information: 414.271.1371.

  • Cryptogram

    FINAL WEEK!

    By Tracy Doyle Windfall Theatre’s latest venture is a bold attempt at staging a very intriguing and challenging piece of drama, David Mamet’s Cryptogram. Mamet’s work, famous for its frequent interruptions, trail-offs and swear words, is often difficult to nail, but Windfall comes close with this production. And although some of the clues in this play of mystery may be misguided, overall the experience is highly engaging and worth the effort. The definition of a cryptogram (according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary) is a communication in cipher or code, and that is exactly what to expect from Cryptogram. Words, props, set pieces, even gestures are all part of the code, and you, as an audience member, need to piece together the clues to figure out what is going on. The play revolves around the strangely absent Bobby (who never appears), his wife Donny (Carol Zippel) and their pre-adolescent son John (Avi Borouchoff), who is set to go on a camping trip with his father. As time passes and Bobby’s absence continues, the situation becomes more and more absurd: secrets are revealed and John drifts further and further toward a strange mental place children should never go, due in part to his insomnia and in another part to his role in the adults’ affairs. John starts questioning everything from the existence of countries on the globe to whether or not his mother has ever wanted to die and eventually brings the play to its surreal ending. The character development is outstanding with Larry Birkett as the family’s bachelor friend, Del, displaying an unsettling, quiet passion. Borouchoff shines with talent rarely seen in young actors, while Zippel’s struggle as her life comes crashing down around her is amazing to watch. However, the pacing was off at times, especially in the first scene, and the blocking left much to be desired. Misdirection of some of the key clues may lead audience members to incorrect conclusions, but all in all, this is a difficult yet fun piece not to be missed. Cryptogram continues though October 13 at Village Church Arts, 130 E. Juneau Avenue in Milwaukee. For tickets call 414-332-3963.

  • An Interview with Paul Robeson

    By Jill Gilmer Interviewer: “Why did you stop making films?” Paul Robeson: “Because little Negro girls go to the movies looking forward to experiencing fantasy. But when they come home, they feverishly try to rub the color off of their skin.” The excerpt above is one of the provocative question & answer segments from An Interview with Paul Robeson. The Next Act Theatre opens its season with this probing drama about the legendary African American scholar, entertainer and political activist. The play, written by John Kishline and Paul Mabon Sr., with Mabon starring in the title role, examines Robeson’s life and legacy through a lively discourse between him and a New York Times reporter. Paul Robeson appeared in 12 films and stole the show in the musical Showboat with his soulful rendering of “Ole Man River.” In 1943, he achieved critical acclaim playing Othello in Broadway’s longest running Shakespearean play. Prior to establishing himself as a performer, Robeson led a distinguished academic career. He overcame overt racism and physical abuse to graduate as valedictorian of his class from Rutgers University in 1918, the third black student to attend that institution. In his spare time on campus, he earned 15 athletic letters in football, basketball, baseball and track. He went on to graduate from Columbia Law School. Beyond this string of accolades, Robeson is well-known for using his celebrity to draw attention to social and political issues. He criticized the racial stereotypes that permeated American media during the Jim Crow era and challenged the idea that black people should fight to defend a country that denies them many of the privileges of citizenship. Robeson defended his provocative beliefs with personal sacrifice. He stopped making films that perpetuated racial stereotypes. He announced that, for two years, he would only perform songs about social justice. Robeson’s actions are sometimes credited with jump-starting the Civil Rights movement. Robeson was also a target of the McCarthy era investigations. On several occasions, he visited the Soviet Union and found it a warm and welcoming nation. For urging peace with the Soviet Union and his outspoken views about race in the U.S., the House Committee on Un-American Activities blacklisted his films and recordings for eight years. They also revoked his passport, limiting his opportunity to perform in Europe, where he had his strongest following. Today, it is still difficult to obtain copies of Robeson’s work. The play’s strength is its examination of Robeson’s childhood and early adult years and his contributions to the intellectual debate about fascism and the interplay between class, race and power. Director David Cecsarini creates an ideal venue for showcasing Robeson’s ideas and talent with a minimalist cast and set in the intimate Off-Broadway theatre. Paul Mabon embodies the strength of Robeson’s intellect and character. His rich, bass voice brings a stirring authenticity to Robeson’s most memorable songs, including “Ole Man River.” The playwrights do a commendable job shining a light on Robeson’s ideas while holding the audience’s attention with the drama of […]

  • Hana’s Suitcase

    “Stories can die if there is no one to tell them.” The line from Hana’s Suitcase, the First Stage Children’s Theater 2007 opening production, is revelatory. The story is the life of a 13-year-old Jewish girl and her family; the play tackles the drama and the difficulty inherent in preserving such tragic narratives. Hana’s Suitcase deals with hard questions about the Holocaust – specifically, how to present to young people the challenging fact that one and a half million children died. At the Tokyo Holocaust Education Center, inquisitive students Maiko (Pahoua Vang) and Akira (Touly Vang) begin a search for the mysterious story surrounding Hana Brady and her suitcase, found at a concentration camp after World War II. As their teacher Fumiko Ishioko transforms questions into answers, they discover that Hana’s brother, George, survived the camps and lives in Canada. And while Hana’s story ends at Auschwitz, George’s story reminds Maiko and Akira that the lives destroyed prejudice, hate and war in the past continue to hold meaning in the present. Based on a true story and a book by Karen Levine, the play was adapted by Emil Sher. The first half of the performance revolves slowly around scenic designer David Minkoff’s imaginative backdrop of bookcases, while throughout the entire play, costume designer Rick Rasmussen effectively uses dark masked figures to illustrate the dreadful days in the camps. As they move silently through the set with bright, blonde Hana, they provide subtle references to the underlying gravity of her circumstances. The action in second half of the play accelerates as the story of the Brady family and their eventual transfer to the concentration camps unfolds. During the talkback, the cast members discuss how performing this play releases emotions. Tears are often shed behind the scenes as orphans George and Hana are split at the camps and Hana’s suitcase is left standing on a train platform. But Fumiko tells the children, “The story may leave us terribly sad, but then we must find our way out of the sadness.” The serious subject matter in Hana’s Suitcase presents opportunities to discuss not only a great tragedy of the 20th Century, but disaster and death as well. Delicately handled, the sadness is dispersed as George reminds Maiko, Akira, and Famiko the love that lasts in his heart will find a way to theirs. Maiko and Akira finally title this love “small wings” as they plan a newsletter to remind others of these horrific events. These small, seemingly significant stories need retelling, including those children’s voices remaining silent or unheard, especially the children who died in the Holocaust. Ultimately this First Stage production belongs to Hana Brady, giving an important voice to all children, past and present, on stage and off. Hana’s Suitcase was left alone and behind but contained remnants of her soul, her story, that survives clear and strong. VS First Stage Children’s Theater presents Hana’s Suitcase through October 7 at Todd Wehr Theater, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. For ticket […]

  • Life Could Be a Dream

    Californian cabaret guru Roger Bean opens the next in a growing number of original musicals at the Rep’s Stackner Cabaret. The same man who brought Milwaukee The Marvelous Wonderettes, The Andrews Brothers and Lana Mae’s Honky Tonk Laundrydebuts his latest, Life Could Be A Dream. Though it’s not quite as accomplished as previous revues, Life is a fun look back at the 1960s doo-wop experience. When a local radio station announces a contest to find the next big musical sensation, Denny (New Yorker Ben Cherry, who last appeared with The Rep in The Andrews Brothers) decides to put together an act in hopes of winning the hot rod of his dreams. With his awkward choir-boy friend Eugene (Richard Israel in his Rep debut), he forms a doo-wop group – complete with choreography – and the opening song is a shaky rendition of the title song by the pair. The group grows to include Piggly Wiggly clerk Wally (Justin Robertson) and auto mechanic Skip (Carlos Martin), and together the friends polish, mature, and struggle as they all become infatuated with the same girl. The show closes with a medley featuring the entire group in a much more sophisticated version of the title song. It can be tricky to do show such progress convincingly, but under the direction of Bean and chorographer Pam Kriger, the cast gives an excellent performance. The only woman in the cast – Julia Graham as Lois – provides much of the conflict within the fledgling doo-wop group. In a particularly smart bit of musical arrangement , each of the guys expresses his feelings for her in a medley featuring “Devil or Angel,” “Earth Angel” and “Only You.” Ben Cherry is inherently likeable as Denny, but he hasn’t been given much more to do than be nice and try to organize things. Some of the best lines are Justin Robertson’s as Wally in an entertaining comic role. But there aren’t as many laughs as there have been in previous Bean shows – and Bean has done the “nice, quirky people thrust into a spotlight” thing before in a number of his revues, so the story feels a little dull. Everything holds together pretty well in Life Could Be A Dream, but without the novel spark of comic wit so characteristic of Bean, it simply isn’t a clever as his previous work. VS The Milwaukee Rep’s Production of Life Could Be A Dream runs through November 4 at the Stackner Cabaret. Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling 414-224-9490 or online at www.milwaukeerep.com

  • The Book of Liz

    The Boulevard Ensemble Theatre presents the Milwaukee premiere of David and Amy Sedaris’s The Book of Liz without the cartoonish costumes, ludicrously artificial sets and other stunts that had New York reviewers raving about the Sedaris’s own production in 2001. By stripping away all of the visuals, director Mark Bucher was able to tackle this cinematic, scene-change-ridden comedy with little or no budget. Bucher’s decision to narrate the action might have been a viable or even bold approach to this technically challenging play if the narration had been funny and stylistically consistent with the script. Unfortunately, it was neither. Instead, Bucher worked against the script, inundating this idiosyncratic play with tired gags and clichés. Thanks to a talented cast, much of the humor of the script managed to shine through. Beth Monhollen played the title character wonderfully straight, navigating bizarre situations (from a religious sect devoted to cheese ball production to a pilgrim-themed restaurant staffed almost entirely with recovering alcoholics) in a simple, genuine performance that proved to be the funniest aspect of the show. The rest of the cast also hit some moments perfectly, especially David Oplinger, Ruth Boulet and Kathleen Williams, but their performances lacked consistency. My personal experiences at the Boulevard have been mixed. They’ve produced many excellent plays, often by playwrights that don’t get much attention elsewhere in the city, but occasionally their productions slide into the kind of amateurish goofing off that almost sank this one. VS The Boulevard Theatre’s production of The Book of Liz continues through September 30. 414-744-557 or www.boulevardtheatre.com for more info.

  • Cyrano de Bergerac

    The panache of Cyrano De Bergerac resonated throughout the Quadracci Powerhouse Theatre at The Rep on opening weekend. Cyrano’s indomitable soul overcomes unsightly features through his unabashed ability to love, conquering both the stage and the audience to begin the 2007 season. Directed by Sanford Robbins from the nationally renowned Professional Theater Training Program (PTTP) in Delaware, which originated at UWM, Cyrano is a tour de force for graduates of the program. Lee Ernst, who studied under Robbins, creates a believable and honorable Cyrano, wholehearted in his unrequited love for his distant cousin, Roxanne. Whether reciting poetic refrains while dueling swords or under the moonlight to Roxanne, Ernst delivers an exceptional persona true to playwright Edmond Rostand’s panache. Add the fight choreography developed by Ernst for the production and the audience begins to understand the complete package this resident Rep actor brings to the theater. Two other graduates of the PTTP include Erin Partin debuting as Roxanne and Andre Martin performing as Christian de Neuvillette. Both light the stage, as lovers and actors, especially Partin as she imbues Roxanne with comely dignity. Torrey Hanson as Rageneau the pastry chef, another PTTP actor, adds comic delight with his patisserie poetry. And a recent performer from the same program, Benjamin Reigal – Ernst’s son – is sure to follow in his father’s footlights as both actor and fight captain. But this Cyrano uses the polish of the PTTP in combination with the superb costume design of Matthew J. LeFebvre who adorns the characters with every ruffle of romance. Lace, bows, tassels and tulle, with wonderfully imaginative shoes, addresses the play’s theatricality. Overhead “the lamps are lit” when two chandeliers rise above the beautifully dressed actors to begin the performance. Linda Buchanan’s scenic design, adaptable and appropriately restrained, allows the candlelight to illuminate the words and performances, particularly in scene three under full moonshine. However, the romantic soul of the story, that Cyrano’s love must go unspoken because of a long and protruding nose, a supposedly ugly presence, is timeless in its telling. In a society requiring more physical perfection than ever before, amid the constant picture of youth, Cyrano De Bergerac reminds us that beauty is window dressing. It is in the depths of spirit, wit, and wisdom, behind those curtains, where love resides. Speaking of heartbreaking tragedy beneath the comedy in the final act, Roxanne says, “I have lost my love twice.” The audience understands the double disappointment of love misplaced and squandered, but also the broken belief that outside appearances are of more value than inner character and integrity. Robbins and Ernst, with the large supporting cast of The Rep, produce three hours of theater demonstrating extraordinary romantic panache. Continuing until October 7, Cyrano De Bergerac, with a soul continually worth revisiting, offers a tragic lesson under the guise of laughter in love and life. VS The Rep presents Cyrano De Bergerac in the Powerhouse Quadrucci Theater at the Repertory Theater on East Wells. For information: 414.224. 9490 or www.milwaukeerep.com.

  • 2 Henry IV

    Milwaukee Shakespeare continues its multi-season presentation of the Henriad with part two of Henry the Fourth. The production, which cleverly fills the space of the Broadway Theatre Center’s Studio Theatre, continues the saga of yet another doomed king on his way out of office. The doomed king in question is the title character as played by Angela Iannone. Thin, sinewy Iannone is a clever casting choice on the part of Milwaukee Shakespeare. Iannone, who has a long history in local theatre, casts the role in a faintly otherworldly light as she makes contact with the character of Henry IV through an almost saturnine stage presence. The king is frail and will die soon — this much is clear in a profoundly visual way before any lines are spoken. The stage is set up much the same way as it was for the 1 Henry IV last year. The audience flanks the stage with half of them facing the other half through the flurry of drama onstage. This season’s set elevates two of the four entrances at a diagonal to each other, providing a dramatic edge to the flow of action onstage. Everything feels pleasantly out of balance as the events of the play tumble across the stage. Even the cast feels a bit uneven, albeit affably. This year’s Prince Henry is played by last year’s Hotspur. This year’s Earl of Westmoreland is played by last year’s Gadshill. This year’s Bardolph is played by … last year’s Bardolph. And Michel Pocaro returns for another year in the role of Henry Percy. Jake Russo is every bit as comic in the role as he was last year. Pocaro’s continued exploration of Percy’s personality has been interesting to watch since he first walked onstage in the role as part of Milwaukee Shakespeare’s production of Richard II at the end of the 2005 – 2006 season. Standout performances by those new to Milwaukee Shakes’ Henriad include a deft Bo Johnson in the role of Lord Mowbray, a fiery DeRante Parker as the Earl of Mowbray and a weighty performance by Bob Adrian as the Archbishop of York. Kevin C. Loomis plays this year’s Falstaff admirably, with all the requisite depth and darkness the character acquires from the first to second part of the series, but he’s playing that role in the shadow of Ricard Ziman’s magnetic performance in the role last year. Loomis stands out in a number of scenes, but his performance here lacks some of the clever nuance Ziman had managed in the same role last year. Brian J. Gill brings Prince Henry to the stage with precisely the kind of charisma that is so important to the role. With everything as intriguingly off-balance as it is, the ending feels remarkably out of synch with everything that has happened in the series so far. The crown peacefully passes from the withered king as all others look on gravely. And there at the center of it all is Gill — the nice guy […]

  • Timon of Athens

    Regarded by many scholars as an unfinished, perhaps experimental piece that may not have been entirely written by Shakespeare, Timon of Athens has great potential to be staged in an offbeat style. American Players Theatre in Spring Green has brilliantly realized this potential in what is by far its most accomplished production this season. This year, the APT has fallen a bit short of its usual standards. Timon of Athens goes a long way towards making up for any shortcomings it may have presented in its 2007 season. Aside from a decidedly modern-looking set, the audience’s first indication of the setting shows up in the usual “turn off your cell phones” announcement, cleverly delivered here as a polite notice from one of the title character’s servants. As the audience, we are all greeted as guests of Timon and encouraged to enjoy ourselves. When characters begin to filter onstage, the overall feeling is that of a posh, contemporary dinner party. All the guests are dressed in white except the Painter and the Poet, who reflexively dress in a classy, reflexively nonconformist black. The Painter (Matt Schwader) carries a tiny black leather portfolio. The Poet (Michael Gotch) carries around a black portfolio of his own that holds a disheveled stack of papers. Gotch and Schwader are brilliantly subtle here, delicately playing the part of pretentiously successful contemporary art-world hipsters – the kind you see nervously shuffling about the Third Ward on gallery night. Eventually, of course, the title character shows up in the form of a jovial Brian Mani. Mani has a very robust presence in the role, lending an earthy believability to the overwhelming generosity that is Timon’s tragic flaw. Just as Timon’s guests sit to eat at the banquet of his wealth, in walks Jonathan Soots in the role of true individualist Apemantus — a philosopher. There’s not a whole lot of money in philosophy, so Apemantus has little regard for it; he snacks idly on a carrot, acting as an upstage critic to the pretentious proceedings at center stage. With a presence and comportment vaguely reminiscent of a contemporary Mark Twain, Smoots puts in a pleasantly detached performance as he warns of the treachery of bought friendship. Of course, this being Shakespearian tragedy, Apemantus’s concerns turn out to be valid, and before long, Timon loses all the wealth he ever had. We catch up with him after the intermission on a set that is a dark aberration of the finely appointed atmosphere that started the play. A rusted-over wheelchair tilts in one corer of the stage. Empty cans litter the stage with other detritus. Mani plays the generous Timon now as a surly, soiled misanthrope with a fabulously twisted sense of humor. Inevitably, Timon happens upon a stash of bills – more accursed money, which brings on all those people he never wanted to have to deal with again. The Poet and the Painter show up right away, appearing first offstage, rustling through the foliage around the outdoor theatre. […]

  • The Night of the Iguana

    American Players Theatre The American Players Theatre delves into a mid-twentieth century script with its production of Tennessee Williams’ Night Of The Iguana. It’s an interesting choice in material for one of the APT’s few dips into the recent past. While it is true that Williams is widely recognized as one of the greatest playwrights of the twentieth century, The Night Of The Iguana is scarcely as acclaimed as other Williams classics like The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire. (When the play debuted on Broadway in 1961, it received mixed reviews.) That said, The Night of The Iguana is far more entertaining than Williams’ more turgidly acclaimed works. It mixes particularly effective humor with a sense of drama that manages an abstract allegorical nature while still feeling quite natural. The APT production stars the multi-talented Jim DeVita as Reverend Shannon—a defrocked minister who, in his new occupation as tour guide, is leading a church group on a vacation tour through Mexico during World War II. DeVita does an excellent job here, but the character is nowhere near as interesting as the plot he’s a part of. Shannon guides his group to a hotel run by an old friend of his by the name of Maxine. Maxine (Tracy Michelle Arnold) takes the tour group in, certain that Shannon is still the wild party animal he always was—even as he claims to have reformed, cleaned up, and curbed the alcohol consumption. Arnold is very seductive here, possessing a smart, tough kind of allure that serves the character well. The rapport between DeVita and Arnold makes for some of the best moments in the play. The seduction of Shannon is complicated when a virginal young artist named Hannah (Colleen Madden) arrives at the hotel with her aging father (Robert Spencer.) It quickly becomes apparent that father and daughter have no money to pay for their accommodations and must attempt to sell his poetry and her paintings to keep their rooms. Madden is interesting here, but the character doesn’t provide her the kind of challenge she would need to turn out a really great performance. And it’s always great to see Spencer playing the lovable older guy (like he did most recently in the Rep’s production of Tuesdays With Morrie last year). It’s still a bit difficult to see him play such a simple character after his much more recent turn as a sophisticated Russian politico in Milwaukee Chamber’s production of A Walk In The Woods. In absence of any really amazing individual performances, the play comes across as a solid, entertaining ensemble piece. Talented actors squeeze themselves into roles that aren’t quite as good as they are, making for a stage dynamic that never quite manages to get boring. The script is bizarrely uneven in places, making for fascinating friction that seems to have no direct link to the central theme of temptation in a paradise that may be imprisonment. (Showing inexplicable storytelling instincts, Williams throws in a group of vacationing […]

  • Raise the Curtain!

    The performing arts season bursts open with a half-dozen theatre groups launching productions this month. The Milwaukee Rep opens no less than three shows, including its centerpiece – Lee Ernst as Cyrano De Bergerac. The Rep’s cabaret opens its season with this year’s Roger Beane show Life Could Be A Dream. In more edgy local theatre, Wisconsin Lutheran College presents a couple of compelling one-acts, including Tickless Time, about the nature of time, and The Illuminati In Drama Liber, an experimental piece that explores the nature of linearity. Further out, Madison’s Mercury Players Theatre presents a comic musical production of Reefer Madness. Also in Madison, The Madison Rep opens its season with Death of A Salesman. Death sings a bit closer to home with The Skylight Opera Theatre’s production of The Midnight Angel. Local stages animate with intense drama as Dramatists Theatre and Milwaukee Shakespeare launch Orpheus Descending and 2 Henry IV respectively, both productions of some pretty heavy work by two of the greatest playwrights in history.

  • “THE HEART has reasons that reason cannot know.” — Blaise Pascal

    Radiance and darkness come from the same place. If the mind is the brightest place in the human body with its constant storm of electrical impulses, perhaps the human body’s darkness exists in the heart – a place of absolutely essential, tireless labor. The heart creates enough pressure in the course of its constant pumping to shoot blood out of the body up to 30 feet. It can continue pumping even after 1/3 of its muscle mass is decayed. In spite of this, what is strong and durable from within is also quite fragile from the outside. It only takes 25 to 75 watts of electricity to stop the heart from beating. Somewhere in every beat lurks the final one, pumping blood to darker veins on the other side of human consciousness. This season promises some particularly dark moments. In May, Windfall Theatre travels into a conspicuously bleak autobiographical musical with William Finn’s A New Brain. Finn chronicled his battle with brain cancer in a musical filled with more heart and true human emotion than most musicals ever aspire. The Skylight Opera launches a completely different take on the dark side of musical theatre with a production of The Midnight Angel at the end of September. It’s the story of a wealthy 18th century woman so bored with life that she throws a lavish, decadent ball, inviting Death itself as a guest of honor. A similarly dark specter descends upon the Waukesha Civic Theatre’s Concert Series this season with Igor Stravinsky’s The Soldiers Tale. It’s a brilliantly dark piece usually performed by seven instruments. Composed in 1918, it’s based on an old Russian folk tale about a deserting soldier who meets and loses his soul to the Devil. In February, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre presents its stage adaptation of the dense, gritty work of Russian darkness that is Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. The heavily intricate story of the brutal axe murder of two women will be played out sparingly. It will take a particularly deft scalpel to bring the extensive complexity of the original novel to the stage with three actors in a 90-minute show, but with the unique talents of Drew Brhel, Leah Dutchin and Mic Matarrese under the direction of Patrick Holland, Milwaukee Chamber’s Crime and Punishment could be one of the better shows on local stages this season. Under an even deeper pall of surreal darkness, The Milwaukee Rep presents Samuel Beckett’s vision of The End next March. Mark Corkins stars in Endgame as Hamm, who sees the final curtain falling and a new one rising. Another classic tale of dystopia makes its way to Wisconsin Lutheran College’s Theatre Department with George Orwell’s 1984. The title may be out of date, but the concept of a world watched over by the all-seeing Big Brother is a very interesting choice for WLC. Earlier in the season, WLC also presents a pair of one-acts about the darker aspects of time, including playwright Susan Glaspell’s intriguing short drama Tickless Time. Written […]