Monday, March 31, 2014

Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq: A Wounded Hero and the Fierceness of his Victims

The hero of Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq, a new play developed in a two-year collaboration between award-winning playwright Paula Vogel and Wilma Artistic Director Blanka Ziska, is a difficult hero to like. He’s a womanizer who uses women to fulfill his own needs with little regard for theirs. We are, I think, supposed to care for him, but that’s a challenge despite the excellent performance by Keith Conallen in the title role.

The play is structured around the journey of Capt. Don Juan (Conallen), a Marine who comes home from war with PTSD and TBI (traumatic brain injury) to search for Cressida (Kate Czajkowski), his missing lover. He claims to have changed, but he’s in such pain, which he desperately self-medicates, that it’s hard to trust his promises of reform.

See rest of the article in Broad Street Review

Monday, March 3, 2014

New Stars Shine in Tribes Production

One of the delights of the recent production of Tribes, by Nina Raine, directed by Stuart Carden, which played recently at the Philadelphia Theatre Company at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, was  the introduction of two young actors at the very start of their careers. 

The more seasoned performers did their parts well, but it was Tad Cooley, who just last year moved to the area from Texas to attend the NY Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, and Amanda Kearns, who graduated from University of the Arts in 2012, who made us care about their characters in a very authentic way. Cooley played Billy, a boy who has been deaf since birth but is just discovering sign language, and Kearns played Sylvia, a girl with deaf parents who is losing her hearing and figuring out how to cope with that.  .

Cooley, who, like his character, has just recently learned to sign, was raised in Vanderbilt, TX where “football was practically a religion.” With a partial hearing loss from an infection that is growing worse, early on he “learned to manage around it,” playing football and appearing in high school productions. The choice to drop football for theater was an easy one for him.  “I've always been a cheerful kid,” he says, “but I never felt so accomplished and happy with what I've done as when I’m on stage.”

See article on the show at: Broad Street Review