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Although we don’t have a date for the 74th Annual Tony Awards, we do have a full list of nominees! Surprises here included the exclusion of The Lightning Thief, which meant Best Score went entire to plays and Best Leading Actor in a musical is unopposed. For musical, Jagged Little Pill (15) and Moulin Rouge!(14) leads with most nominations, Slave Play (12) and The Inheritance (11) for plays — mostly as expected.

And here are the nominees:

Best Play
Grand Horizons by Bess Wohl
The Inheritance by Matthew López
Sea Wall/A Life by Simon Stephens & Nick Payne
Slave Play by Jeremy O. …


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The Drama Desk Awards celebrate achievements both Broadway and off-Broadway for a season — this year, of course, that season was cut off quite short. The shut down of theatres due to COVID-19 dramatically impacted what shows were already open, and therefore eligible, for awards this year. This was especially the case for Broadway, since most Broadway shows had not opened yet by the time of the shutdown. The result is that off-Broadway is represented much more in nominations than usual. Even with a condescend theatrical season, off-Broadway in particular had so much to offer, evidenced not only by the large number of shows represented in the nominations below, but also by the number of high-profile shows that did not get nominated at all. …


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The problems of Ivo van Hove’s “West Side Story” are almost too numerous to fit into a single piece, but I am going to try. There has already been quite a bit written on this revival, so instead of a traditional review this is going to be more of a semi-organized set of thoughts about some problematic aspects — things that I feel need to be talked about and addressed more. Consider this my cahiers de doléances, my list of grievances.

To begin I must of course start with the captain of this misbegotten mess, Ivo van Hove. For those unaware, van Hove is a Belgian director who of late has become Broadway’s experimental bad boy; this is his first attempt at directing a musical and it is a massive failure. …


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As a critic, some weeks you see Lucas Hnath, Young Jean Lee, and Alice Birch question the forms that theatre can take. Other weeks you see back to back revivals of Jerry Herman, Leonard Bernstein, and Meredith Wilson. …


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At this point it is hard to go more than a few months without a Lucas Hnath play. “The Thin Place” at Playwrights Horizons closed just a few weeks ago, and now we herald the opening of the wunderkind’s latest work, “Dana H.” Hnath is such a versatile, chameleonic playwright that it seems as if he has challenged himself to master — or at least attempt — every major style of drama. He has given us a literary sequel, a religious critique, an historical allegory, and a spiritualist psychological thriller, to name a few. Expanding this already ever-expanding playbook is his verbatim piece “Dana H.,” …


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“Medea” is one of the stories that you know going in what’s going to happen— no matter what, the tossed-aside wife is going to murder her children — but you watch anyway, almost unable to look away. Simon Stone, who wrote and directed a new adaptation currently playing at BAM’s Harvey Theater, has created a painfully uncanny world that translates Euripides to modern day, inspired by a real life Kansan woman who murdered her children. …


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Elizabeth Strout’s novels are generally beloved, as is Laura Linney, so combining the two was a logical choice for adapter Rona Munro and director Richard Eyre. However, the production of “My Name is Lucy Barton” at the Manhattan Theatre Club’s Friedman Theatre (a transfer from London), seems to be lacking. It has several great elements, including an emotional story and a phenomenal actress, and yet it never really soars.

Munro’s adaptation is a rather straightforward translation of the novel, which was written in first person and almost begging to become a monologue. In it, Lucy tells about a recent extended stay she had in a hospital and an unexpected visit she had from her estranged mother. Throughout the hour and half, Lucy’s narrative fades through various times in her life, gently moving from the strained hospital conversations with her mom to her childhood of poverty and abuse. The ebb and flow of these temporal shifts feel like waves moving us through Lucy’s life. …


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Works of drama have been traditionally classified into comedies or tragedies, (or if you are being generous, tragicomedies). Ever since the Ancient Greeks this dramaturgical framework has been the main way that audiences, writers, performers, scholars, and critics alike have understood theatre. The main basis behind this genre binary is the affect that each produces: tragedy has a negative affect, usually of sadness, while comedy has a positive affect of joy. However, recently another affect has come into fashion for theatre: fear.

This affect defies the boundaries of comedy and tragedy, although it leans closer to the latter, since fear is a negative affect. But in traditional dramaturgy, fear is not the emotion a playwright wants to elicit from the audience. Because of this, we do not even have a set vocabulary for how to talk about feelings of terror on the stage, nor do we have a clearly defined dramaturgy for how it works. Thus, the fact that several playwrights have taken terror as their goal makes for an equally noteworthy and fascinating trend. …


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In “The Inheritance,” the current talk of the town gay play that claims to deal with the legacy of the AIDS crisis, all of the major characters are not only white, but are HIV-. There are two minor black characters, one of whom is HIV+, but his status is only mentioned once briefly, and the other black character similarly only has one quick mention of HIV to say “if you’re a black gay man in America, your chances of contracting HIV in your lifetime are one in two.” Once again, the line is quickly said and quickly forgotten. …


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On the surface, it is easy to make a comparison between “Angels in America” and Matthew Lopez’s new play “The Inheritance”: both are sprawling, two-part plays with large casts of characters and explore gay themes, especially HIV. However, when you look closer and move past this vague description, it becomes clear that the plays are not very alike after all (something Lopez himself has even admitted). “The Inheritance” may be similar in length to “Angels,” but it fails to live up to Kushner’s work in almost every way.

“The Inheritance” tells the story of three generations of gay men all dealing with the cultural aftermath of the AIDS crisis. It clearly wants to be a gay epic, but in spite of its large cast, it mostly tells a fairly constrained story of a gay couple, Eric Glass (Kyle Soller) and Toby Darling (Daryl Gene Daughtry Jr.). The play is loosely adapted from E. M. Forster’s “Howards End,” which largely concerns itself with two sisters. “The Inheritance” tries to have the best of both worlds: it wants to be both an adaptation of a novel (which has a fairly limited scope) and a massive gay fantasia. …

About

Christian Lewis

Theater Critic and Queer Blogger. Vassar College alum, currently working toward a PhD at the CUNY Graduate Center.

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