Wednesday, March 26, 2014

British Invasion: April 2014

April seems to be blowing in just a few British imports.  Happily it is the start of Brits Off-Broadway which is like my Christmas.  For your British flavor this month, think a peaty dram of whisky since it is also Tartan Week this month in New York!

As before my measurement of excitement for these British works are ranked on a Kitson scale of 1 (no excitement) to 10 (all the excitement). 

Tartan Week (Mar. 28-Apr. 10):  It's not a show but a series of Scottish events held every year in New York.  This year there is a New York Tattoo modeled on the Edinburgh Military Tattoo which takes place on April 5.  Military bands, marching, and pageantry.  As a child taken to a lot of fife and drum core events as a child this is of particular interest to me.  There is a parade on April 5th which runs up Sixth Avenue in Manhattan.  Lotta bagpipes.  There are several music and whisky related events.  7 Kitsons.

Don't Wake Me (Apr. 1-20): As part of Brits Off-Broadway at 59E59, this play was written by Rahila Gupta about her fight for her disabled son and it stars Jaye Griffiths.  For some reason this piece did not hit my radar at the Edinburgh Fringe where it played last summer and not being a fan of personal narratives, I'm not chomping at the bit on this one.  Mixing poetry and prose, with positive critical reception, I'd say 4 Kitsons for me but if you like a tale of a mother's struggle for her son's acceptance 6 Kitsons. 

A Respectable Widow Takes to Vulgarity and Clean (Apr. 2-26):  From the Traverse Theatre (a favorite venue of mine in Edinburgh) comes this double-bill of short Scottish plays directed by Orla O'Loughlin, who is the Artistic Director of the Traverse.  A Respectable Widow is written by Douglas Maxwell (The Promise) and involves a woman whose husband has died and the friendship she has with a "foul-mouthed employee."  Expletives and grief.  Clean is written by Sabrina Mahfouz, a poet and playwright.  Her name comes up quite often in British theater chatter and here's a chance to see a short play by her.  Clean is about 3 female criminals engaged in a heist.  It's part of Brits Off-Broadway. I'm dying to see Clean and I'm at 8 Kitsons for that. 

The Cripple of Inishmaan (Apr. 12- Jul. 20): I caught this Michael Grandage production in London last year.  As always if you like Martin McDonagh's dark and funny ways then this production will not disappoint.  Daniel Radcliffe is delightful as Cripple Billy.  Though Sarah Greene tries to steal the show as Helen McCormick.  Glad to see it getting another chance at life over here in the colonies.  And allegedly there are $27 tickets to be had.  Discounts around for the preview period.  I'd see it again.  8 Kitsons for me.

Peddling (Apr. 23-May 18): If  you can't get tickets to see Daniel Radcliffe, ergh Harry Potter, you might want to check out his film co-star Harry Melling (Dudley Dursley in the films) who has written and stars in this one man show about door-to-door salesman who cannot remember how he ended up in a field.  Again, another offering from Brits Off-Broadway.  Melling was just in New York with the Chichester production of King Lear starring Frank Langella where he played the Fool.  Although the brochure say that Peddling is a world premiere, it seems to be playing the highly respected High Tide Festival in England in mid-April before arriving at Brits Off-Broadway where it will have its US Premiere.  Artistic Director of High Tide, Steven Atkinson, is directing Peddling.  Not being a Harry Potter fan, but always interested in new writers, I'm at 7 Kitsons. 

Macbeth:  Although this production starts in May I figured I should mention it now.  You better have your tickets already for Kenneth Branagh's turn in Macbeth at the Park Avenue Armory.  I'll be there in the mudseats to watch Branagh and Alex Kingston as Lady Macbeth.  Guest writer Abbi Roberts reported on the filmed version of this production back in August 2013. I've got to see Branagh on stage, but wish it was not Macbeth.  8 Kitsons.

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