Friday again, and time for this week’s Wall Street Journal drama-column teaser. Today I reviewed three plays, one off-off-Broadway production (The Caterers) and two out-of-town shows (King Lear in Boston and Leading Ladies in Washington, D.C.). I gave all three a thumbs-up:
Talk about timely: I saw “The Caterers,” Jonathan Leaf’s new play about an Islamic terrorist and his three hostages, a British filmmaker and a pair of Jewish caterers, a couple of hours after Mayor Bloomberg warned New Yorkers of a possible terrorist assault on the local subway system. The news was still so hot that I had trouble getting a cab to the theater–and “The Caterers” is so nightmarishly believable a portrait of terrorism in action that the friend with whom I saw it had a panic attack when it was over.
Part of my friend’s anxiety arose from the fact that “The Caterers” is being performed by a very fine cast (Judith Hawking is especially strong) in an Off-Off Broadway theater small enough that you can smell the powder whenever Mohammed (Brian Wallace) fires his pistol. But Mr. Leaf’s play, which was inspired by a real-life incident, is wholly plausible in its own right…
Alvin Epstein is best known in Manhattan for his appearances in the plays of Samuel Beckett. He first attracted attention a half-century ago in the Broadway premiere of “Waiting for Godot” and was most recently heard from this February in the Irish Repertory Theatre’s splendid revival of “Endgame.” Now he’s up in Boston, guesting with the Actors’ Shakespeare Project in the best “King Lear” I’ve ever seen on stage….
I have a weakness for the vanilla-ice-cream farces of Ken Ludwig, the latest of which, “Leading Ladies,” is now playing at Washington’s Ford’s Theatre (yes, that Ford’s Theatre). As usual with Mr. Ludwig, this tale of Clark & Gable (Ian Kahn and JD Cullum), two fourth-rate Shakespearean actors who dress up in drag to swindle a small-town heiress (Karen Ziemba) out of an inheritance, is silly, sentimental and efficient to a fault, the fault being that you can see the denouement coming two miles off.
Fortunately, “Leading Ladies” is also funny in a sweet, old-fashioned way that may not have much to do with its purported genre (Mr. Ludwig is too nice a guy to write six-door farce, which thrives on unbridled cruelty) but is agreeable all the same….
As usual, no link. To read the whole thing, buy a copy of this morning’s Journal, or go here to subscribe to the Online Journal, Web-based journalism’s best bargain.
UPDATE: The Journal has just posted a free link to this review. Go here to read the whole thing.