I caught up with recent off- and off-off-Broadway shows in my theater column for this morning’s Wall Street Journal. I raved about Private Jokes, Public Places:
The funniest new play to hit New York in months… has taken up residence in the least likely of venues: Oren Safdie’s “Private Jokes, Public Places,” a comedy about architecture now being performed downtown at (wait for it) the Theater at the Center for Architecture. Implausible as it may sound, Mr. Safdie has done the impossible: He’s written an unpretentiously witty play of ideas about some of the most pretentious ideas known to man.
Since 9/11, Americans have been exposed to more up-to-the-second designs for high-profile buildings–most of them bad, some downright hideous–than at any other time in recent memory. What kind of thinking, if any, goes into these white megaelephants? Mr. Safdie, a student of architecture at Columbia University turned struggling playwright (and, not coincidentally, the son of celebrity architect Moshe Safdie), has drawn on personal experience to answer that question….
As for Aunt Dan and Lemon, well, here’s the lead:
The word “transgressive” was not yet chic when Wallace Shawn’s “Aunt Dan and Lemon” was first produced in 1985, but it could have been coined to describe this vomitous piece of blather, which has been revived by the New Group in a production directed by Scott Elliott and running through Jan. 31 at the Harold Clurman Theater.
Like most works of art (I use the term loosely) that are praised as transgressive by easily impressed critics, “Aunt Dan and Lemon” is actually anything but. To be sure, Mr. Shawn dabbles in theatrical shock tactics, but stripped of its gratuitous nudity and violence, his play is a one-sided piece of sucker bait that will offend only those thin-skinned right-wingers who take unkindly to being portrayed as capital-F fascists by a smug left-winger….
No link, so to read the whole thing (including brief mentions of The Beard of Avon and Anna Bella Eema), pick up a copy of this morning’s Journal, turn to the “Weekend Journal” section and keep flipping pages until you find me. I’m there, together with other good things.