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Theatre Reviews

This cabaret of pop, Broadway and opera tunes is a fun potpourri

Theater 11 is the 2003 creation of 11 artists from the Anne Arundel County theater and music scene, devised to bring new or rare works to local audiences. They began with a seldom seen Wendy Wasserstein play, followed by two original works by local authors. Their stage went dark after two seasons while its members focused on life’s larger needs. But their vision never died. They reclaimed the stage in December with In Celebration, a holiday collage of prose, poetry and song, which they hope to make an annual tradition.

Interesting. Very interesting.

In stereotype, the Victorian era is dark and overbearing, peopled with prudish and stodgy citizens. That stereotype gives the required context for Sarah Ruhl’s In The Next Room or The Vibrator Play. The assumption is that the doctor — providing relief for hysteria by using a vibrator on his patients, female and male — is both innovative for Victorian sensibilities and naïve of mental and physical health concerns as we understand them today.

A brilliant staging of Arthur Miller’s moving tribute to bonds that bind

Sometimes you want a simple beach novel to bide away the time, and sometimes you want to be in the presence of a master who can control language, inflection and develop great profound meanings. If you are in the latter mood, Bay Theatre’s production of Arthur Miller’s The Price is the show to see.  In The Price, Miller revisits the family dynamics he explored in Death of a Salesman. This work has some prescient lines for today, some of the most realistic (and often, painful) family dialogues and confrontation written this side of Eugene O’Neill.

Unspoken passion simmers behind courtly manners in this gem of pop culture from a bygone era

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Three surprising sources combine to make comedy

Theater starts with the written word, comes to life in the voices of actors and endures in the memory of its audiences. Sometimes, as with Carl Sternheim’s The Underpants, written in 1910, it gets forgotten until someone rediscovers it, reimagines it and breathes life into it — as comedian Steve Martin did for The Underpants in 2002.

Playing thru Mother’s Day, this study in maternal dysfunction should be required viewing for everyone but childless orphans

Can an estranged grandmother, mother and daughter find grace in time to rebuild their family? This is the question Compass Rose Theater poses in their promotion for Lee Blessing’s Eleemosynary, an award-winning play that takes its name from an obscure word in a spelling bee dictionary. Appearing now through Mother’s Day, this study in maternal dysfunction should be required viewing for everyone but childless orphans.

You’ll laugh until you ache, then laugh some more

Four affluent couples gathered in a posh suburban residence for a dinner party to honor friends’ 10th anniversary celebration find mischief surrounding the event.     There are no servants: How can the party continue? The hostess is missing. So is the host — the deputy mayor of New York City — who has reportedly shot himself through the earlobe.

See a Congress of courage and passion, theater of vision and great musical entertainment

In 1969, Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards created 1776, a compelling historical musical. (Have those three descriptive words ever before been used together?) Their play depicts the debates, passions and courage it took to craft the Declaration of Independence and start along the path to creating this new country, the United States of America.

This Night is so dark that you strain to see the actors

Bowie Community Theatre is up to its rafters in shady business again. The troupe that brought you Murder By Misadventure and Who Dunit? now turns to the segregated South for a crime drama with the twisted face of bigotry. Matt Pelfrey’s 2010 stage adaptation of In the Heat of the Night is based on the John Ball novel that inspired an Oscar-winning film and an Emmy-winning TV series.

Laugh your way out of winter with this play

The British have been stereotyped as stodgy. The truth is that they are quite bawdy and irreverent. The plays of Ray Cooney — including It Runs in the Family, now playing at 2nd Star Productions — are typical British humor.     The British love a farce where nothing is sacred or above ridicule. In It Runs in the Family that includes the clergy, police, doctors and matrimony. “If you tell a lie, make it a whopper,” an actors says in words that could be this play’s subtext.