This Week on Stage: Julie Taymor vs. Bono, a capella in New York
Julie Taymor’s back, she’s saved her emails, and she’s not afraid to use them. News broke this week that the fired Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark director filed new documents—which include private emails and recorded conversations—in her $1 million lawsuit against the show’s producers. Let’s just say the papers don’t portray Spider-Man’s composers Bono and the Edge as Broadway’s best collaborators.
Meanwhile, out in Los Angeles, half the town was holding a court of their own at the star-studded (think George Clooney and Brad Pitt) reading of Dustin Lance Black’s 8, which chronicles the federal trial over same-sex marriage in California. And in non-law-related theater news, Universal Pictures Stage Productions announced that they were adapting the cult film Animal House for the Main Stem. (Doubters, before you say “ugh,” remember that the Greeks did invent drama.)
Our writers also reviewed five new off-Broadway shows. Writer Stephan Lee awarded Nina Raine’s Tribes an A- for the “incisive writing and superb acting” in the family drama about a deaf man’s struggle to discover himself among his hearing relatives. “There isn’t a weak performance in the bunch,” he said about the cast.
The off-Broadway revival of Edward Albee’s The Lady from Dubuque earned an A- from correspondent Keith Staskiewicz, who called it “two hours of intentional discomfort spewed out of some dark and recondite corner of Albee’s mind, adorned in grim irony,” adding that “the production is also absolutely riveting, which is the right word because it indeed feels like someone has affixed your body to your chair.”
I gave the off-Broadway a cappella show Voca People a C- for trying to cram over 70 songs and a thin sci-fi plot into 90 minutes, writing that “someone appears to be laboring under the misapprehension that more songs and more variety will appeal to more people (and more tourists).”
An Iliad “can occasionally be a bit of a slog” admitted stage editor Thom Geier about Denis O’Hare and Stephen Spinella’s one-man readings of Homer’s war epic (the actors alternate performances), but he found it notable “as a showcase for the acting skills of two accomplished stage veterans.” He graded the production a B-.
The revival of Tina Howe’s 1983 Pulitzer Prize-winning Painting Churches also scored a B-. Critic Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote that the “esteemed portrait of an artist and her aging parents is as relevant today as it was when the award-winning play premiered,” but felt the drama’s dialogue (who still says “at sixes and sevens”?) showed its age.
For more stage news and reviews, check out EW.com’s Stage hub.