What's Up For Today?
Wendy R. Williams
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).

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9 Parts Desire

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. http://www.met.com/9parts/

Belfast Blues
Geraldine Hughes

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.”

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
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.

Rock on!

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