Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Off-Broadway Quick-Hit Review: Row After Row at The Women's Project

Rosie Benton, Erik Lochtefeld and P.J. Sosko. Photo: Carol Rosegg 
Row After Row
By Jessica Dickey
Directed by Daniela Topol
The Women's Project

What's It All About?
Civil War Re-Enactors meet in a bar following Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg and find themselves on new battlefields with thoughts about modern society and ghosts of real battles from the past interwoven to ask the question "Has Anything Really Changed?" 150 years later?

The play’s title comes from Maj. Gen. George Pickett's order to charge the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. As men rushed forward and, as the defenders’ guns fired, row after row of Confederate soldiers fell to the ground, dead.

Die-hard Cal (P.J. Sosko) takes issue with the not-regulation uniform of Leah (Rosie Benton), as well as women participating in the battle at all.It's 150 years after Gettysburg, Leah quips, but a woman still has to fight for a place at the table. Tom's buddy, Tom (Erik Lochtefeld), a history teacher, is less hostile and responds with wonderment to most everything with, "Wowsa."

Discussions about the plight of women and other concerns of modern society play out (in nicely chosen modern colloquialism) are juxtaposed with scenes of a soldier deserting during the Civil War and a woman disguising herself as a man to go to battle. Time transitions are nicely executed with the help of Lighting Design by Tyler Micoleau and Sound Design by Broken Chord.

What Are The Highlights?
An interesting commentary given the polarized political state of our nation. The set, designed by Clint Ramos (who also designs the costumes), is minimally built on a foundation of firewood, giving thought to how easily dissenting opinion could cause our nation to go up in flames.

What Are the Lowlights?
The script is so-so without a lot of direction. Beyond giving Leah a platform to make some passionate statements, there isn't too much plot and the ghostly element isn't thoroughly developed. 

More information
Row After Row will run through Feb. 16 at NY City Center's Stage II. Season Tickets Women's Project Theater memberships for the entire season, which includes all three main stage shows and some special events, start at $60 and may be purchased atwww.wptheater.org or by calling 212-765-1706. Single tickets are $60 can be purchased online at www.NYCityCenter.org, by calling CityTix® at 212-581-1212, or at the New York City Center Box Office, 131 West 55th St. (between Sixth and Seventh avenues).

Women’s Project Theater was founded in 1978 by Julia Miles to address the significant under-representation of women in the American theater, and has since built a tremendous legacy. Although even today women playwrights and directors severely lack parity in pay and opportunity, the extraordinary women artists who have broken through the glass ceiling have all crossed the threshold at Women’s Project Theater, including Eve Ensler, Lynn Nottage, Maria Irene Fornes, Suzan-Lori Parks, Diane Paulus, Sarah Ruhl, Paula Vogel, and Anna Deavere Smith, among the many. Throughout its 36-year history, Women’s Project Theater has produced and/or developed over 600 plays and published 11 anthologies of plays.

Christians might also like to know:
-- Language
-- God's name taken in vain

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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