Listen to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED on WGUC (FM 90.9) or WNKU (FM 89.7) late on Thursday afternoon for the first seven installments of AMERCAN STAGES, a series about regional theaters across the U.S. This week the series begins with an introduction of the regional theater movement and its importance -- 30 of the last 32 Pulitzer Prize winners for drama originated at regional theaters like the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.
At the CINCINNATI PLAYHOUSE in the world premiere of John Yearley's Leap, the geography of loss is a tough map to navigate, a lesson learned by every character. An unnamed man takes advantage of the chaos of Sept. 11, 2001, in New York City to walk away his deteriorating life. But what he learns along the way, through the example of an extraordinarily odd family, is that the strings of attachment aren't so easily cut. The show uses absurdist humor and a zany, odd-angled set with a floor of jumbled concrete shards. (Rick Pender) Grade: B+NEW EDGECLIFF THEATRE's zesty production of Lives of the Saints enters the full-tilt wacko imagination of writer David Ives. For example, a vintage English vicarage mystery, in which the line "even the sofa wanted him dead," seems utterly sensible. The victim had, after all, been having an affair with the sofa while casting seductive glances at the carpet. This is sweetly realized, wittily verbalized foolishness directed with wicked sharpness by director Elizabeth A. Harris. At heart, Ives' keenly, cleanly strung words are the meat of the evening's success. As precise as passages in a fugue, his sentences crackle with wit and more than a little wisdom about human folly that is very much of this universe. (Tom McElfresh) Grade: A
KNOW THEATRE TRIBE is offering a powerful production of 4.48 Psychosis, a play by Sarah Kane, who battled mental illness most of her life before her untimely suicide in 1999 at the age of 28. Director Jason Bruffy has crafted an experimental production without a traditional script, plot or even characters. The text is actually a stream-of-consciousness poem about mental breakdown. This rendition is high-tech but judiciously spare, with actors using a hand-held video camera to film one another, yielding a duality that simulates a psychotic reality. (Mark Sterner) Grade: A