Literature Live @ Bay Street ****

Michelle Azar as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Director and Laley Lippard. Photo: Barry Gordin

Bay Street Theater and Scott Stander are presenting the enlightening All Things Equal: The Life & Trials of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as part of their Literature Live series through November 27.

November 6, 2022: Supreme Court Justice, RGB, is beautifully captured in Rupert Holmes’ captivating one person play, All Things Equal: The Life & Trials of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which opened last night at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor. For ninety fascinating minutes Michelle Azar embodies the remarkable woman known as RBG as she welcomes a family friend into here cozy chambers. She captures the essence of this brave woman with a nuanced performance that is a treat to behold.  She nails her indominable/witty presence and over the course of those absorbing, often funny, 90 minutes, a sense of the woman and her life with its many trials will become apparent.

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Chester Bailey ***

Reed Birney and Ephraim Birney.

By: Samuel L. Leiter

November 1, 2022: If you’re a playwright with an idea for a play in which you want to use only two characters but also need to provide a huge amount of exposition, you might want to follow the method used by Joseph Dougherty’s Chester Bailey, now at the Irish Rep in a production costarring one of New York’s foremost actors, Reed Birney, and his up-and-coming son, Ephraim Birney. Although not a father-son play, it does feature an older man who could be a father figure, and a young man who has a few father (and mother) issues, albeit not the play’s most pressing ones.

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Walking With Ghosts ****

Gabriel Byrne

By: Isa Goldberg

November 1, 2022: “Walking With Ghosts” sounds more like a story of haunted houses, than like a memoir by the auspicious actor Gabriel Byrne.  In being true to his idea of a ghost story, however, Byrne creates a rapturous presence, wrapping us in his observations about life, his reflections about growing up in Ireland, and becoming an actor, and famous. 

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Walking With Ghosts *****

Gabriele Byrne

By: Paulanne Simmons

October 30, 2022: It may well be that the most revealing part of a memoir is what the writer chooses to leave in or leave out. Gabriel Byrne may be an international star of stage and screen but his solo show, Walking with Ghosts (based on his book of the same name), dwells lovingly and earnestly on much more personal stories.

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Walking With Ghosts ***

Gabriel Byrne

By: Samuel L. Leiter

October 30, 2022: All of us walk with ghosts, our memories—sometimes blurred, sometimes burning bright—of the people and experiences that shaped us constantly intruding in our thoughts. Long-gone family members, schoolteachers, neighbors, friends, colleagues, and so forth, are perpetually with us. In his play, Walking with Ghosts, the superb Irish actor Gabriel Byrne (“In Treatment,” Long Day’s Journey into Night) spends two hours and ten minutes on the stage of the Music Box Theatre, walking with and talking about his own ghosts, the ones he mainly encountered growing up in Dublin, and those who influenced him in later life.

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A Raisin In The Sun ****1/2

Francois Battiste and Tonya Pinkins.

By: Samuel L. Leiter

October 25, 2022: Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, produced in 1949, and Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, produced a decade later, in 1959, have long inspired English-class essays comparing them. Both are set among striving lower middle-class families of the postwar years. The Lomans, white, live in a small Brooklyn house; the Youngers, Black, live on Chicago’s Southside. Both are preoccupied with money, the Lomans mainly so they can complete their mortgage payments and own their aging house free and clear, the Youngers so they can escape their shabby ghetto existence and try grabbing the evasive brass ring of American life. 

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A Raisin In The Sun ***

Mandi Masden, Tonya Pinkins, and Toussaint Battiste.

By: Paulanne Simmons

October 25, 2022: A Raisin in the Sun made its Broadway debut in 1959. But the drama confronts so many of the issues African Americans still face today – the role of men and women in the black family, racism, African heritage – that it could have been written yesterday.

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Death of a Salesman **

Sharon D Clarke plays Linda, Wendell Pierce plays Willy, and André De Shields plays Ben.

By: Paulanne Simmons

October 16, 2022: The latest revival of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman comes to Broadway with an impeccable pedigree. The play is the best-known work of an iconic American playwright. The production comes to New York City after a critically acclaimed run in London. And it features a black Willy Loman, so we expect it to be new and exciting.

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Leopoldstadt ****1/2

The Broadway Company of “Leopoldstadt”.

By: Samuel L. Leiter

October 9, 2022: Leopoldstadt, named for a Jewish section in Vienna whose flourishing Jewish culture—along with much of its Jewish citizenry—was nearly wiped out in the Holocaust, is also the title or the great British playwright Tom Stoppard’s loudly acclaimed drama inspired by his belated recognition of his previously ignored Jewish roots. The play, an Olivier Award-winning London hit, is now at the Longacre Theatre in a physically striking, if not 100% effective, production directed by Patrick Marber.

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Leopoldstadt ****

By: Paulanne Simmons

October 9, 2022: Tom Stoppard was born Tomáš Sträussler, in Czechoslovakia. His family was Jewish, and on March 15, 1939, the day the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia, they fled to Singapore. Before the Japanese occupation of Singapore, Stoppard, his brother, and their mother escaped to India, while his father remained. When Stoppard was four, his father died, and when he was eight, his mother married British army major Kenneth Stoppard, and the family moved to England. Tomáš had already become Tom, and now he was Tom Stoppard. 

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Cheek to Cheek, Irving Berlin in Hollywood ****

Danny Gardner, Melinda Porto, Darrell T. Joe, Darien Crago, Jeremy Benton, and Kaitlyn Davidson.

By: Paulanne Simmons

September 22, 2022: “Cheek to Cheek” was certainly a big hit for Irving Berlin. But it was only one of his dance songs. The “Piccolino,” the “Yam” and dancing “Back to Back” were all popular, although “Back to Back” was probably never as much fun as “Cheek to Cheek.” All this and more is revealed in The York Theatre Company’s revival of Cheek to Cheek, Irving Berlin in Hollywood, which first opened Dec. 2, 2021.

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Jasper **1/2

Abigail Hawk and Dominic Fumusa

By: Samuel L. Leiter

September 14, 2022: As my plus-one and I walked down Forty-Second Street after seeing Jasper,Grant MacDermott’s wannabe tearjerker at the Pershing Square Signature Center, I was sharing my opinion (meh) when a stranger, overhearing, interrupted to object because she had been so absorbed and moved by the play. For each of my objections she had a defense. I say this because I’m aware that the potential poignancy of the play’s premise might equally have affected others who will disagree with me. 

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Strings Attached ***

By: Isa Goldberg

Twice in Carole Bugge’s immodestly intellectual comedy, “Strings Attached,” one of a trio of actors opines that “the penis of a humpback whale is twelve feet long.” In a play fixed on philosophical ideas, that is a real grabber.

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Strings Attached **

Robyne Parrish, Brian Richardson, and Paul Schoeffler.

By: Samuel L. Leiter

September 9, 2022: String theory, M theory, the Big Bang, quantum theory, gravity. thermodynamics, waves, electrons, protons, subatomic particles, parallel universes, relativity, Schrödinger’s Cat, the Blackbody Experiment, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle . . . if physics and cosmology be the food of love, play on. But, if like me, you’re lost in the stars when served with an army of such concepts, even when valiant attempts are made to make them digestible, you’ll find that Strings Attached, a new play by Carole Buggé—a mystery novelist who writes under three different pennames—for Pulse Theatre at Theatre Row, may leave you not with a bang, big or not, but with a whimper. 

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Murder in La La Land *****

By: Paulanne Simmons

August 31, 2022: If you’re a fan of murder mysteries and believe you’re secretly a supersleuth who could rival the great Sherlock, you still have two opportunities to prove yourself. Live in Theater Production’s Murder in La La Land, a live, interactive Zoom experience, will be presented on Friday September 9 at 8pm and Saturday September 10 at 2pm.

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