Wendy R. Williams
I love having this theater
column because I get to write about the shows
I see when I am not attending as a reviewer
– my busman’s holiday. This month
I saw three plays: two poignant one-woman
shows about life during wartime (9 Parts
Desire and Belfast Blues) and
an upbeat Texas-style retelling of the Merry
Wives of Windsor (Lone Star Love).
The first show I saw was Manhattan
Ensemble Theater’s 9 Parts Desire,
written by and starring Heather Raffo and directed
by Joanna Settle. Ms. Raffo skillfully portrays
several women who lived through the horror of Saddam
Hussein and some who are still living in present
day Iraq. Here is a quote from their press release:
“A portrait of the extraordinary — and
ordinary — lives of a whole cross-section
of Iraqi women, this solo work lifts the veil on
exactly what it means to be a woman in the age-old
war zone that is Iraq.”
The play is extremely moving;
some of the stories are so horrifying that I won’t
write about them in this column. But everyone should
go see this play. There is a line in the movie of
Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago
about living through war. Yuri says to his brother
(very loosely quoted.), “For any revolution
to be a success, someone must be able to live through
it.” And in the same vein I would like to
add that we all must know about it. And please don’t
think the show is all sad. Ms. Raffo also does an
amazing job portraying the spirit of the Iraqi women,
skillfully depicting their unconquered desire to
experience joy. The play runs through March 6th.
Tickets can be purchased online from Telecharge/com
or by phone at (212) 239-6200 or (800) 432-7250.
The other war based play I saw
this month was Belfast Blues at The Culture
Project. Blue, is written and performed
by Geraldine Hughes and directed by Carol Kane.
It is being co-produced by Anjelica Huston and The
Culture Project in association with “That’s
Us Productions.” Now that is a very impressive
group of Irishwomen.
Here is a quote from their press release: “Set
in Belfast in the 1970's and 1980's, Belfast
Blues is one wee girl's story of family, war,
Jesus, and Hollywood. Simultaneously funny and tragic,
this touching piece allows Ms. Hughes to portray
24 different characters, from her parents and neighbors
to, most importantly, her younger self. ‘It's
drawn from my memories of growing up in war-torn
Belfast. Maybe telling my story will not only give
people an insight about kids in war, but will inspire
others to tell their story as well,’ said
Ms. Hughes is a very skilled performer and she portrays
everyone from herself to her father with wonderful
comic skill. You can really see the “troubles”
when you are told the story through the eyes of
a young girl who only wants to grow up and be normal.
Belfast is now scheduled through the end
of March. For tickets, call 212-307-4100 or visit
ticketmaster.com. For more information: http://www.45bleecker.com/belfast.html
Lone Star Love
The last show was the fun, upbeat Lone Star
Love, conceived and adapted by John L. Haber
with music and lyrics by Jack Herrick. Based on
Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor,
Love is a rollicking fun show, filled with
upbeat songs and fun characters.
All the elements of Shakespeare’s
comedy are present: star crossed lovers, a jealous
husband, disguises and a clown (in this case, Falstaff).
And Lone Star Love features a barbeque
before each show.
Love will only be playing
through February 6th at the John Houseman Theater,450
West 42nd. Street. So get your tickets quickly.
Go to Telecharge.com or 212-239-6200. But don’t
despair if you can’t see it now. Lone
Star Love is a very good (and clean) musical
and will have an afterlife, hopefully on tour, but
certainly in community theaters all over the country.
And you better believe they will like it in Texas.
For more information: http://www.lonestarlovethemusical.com.