Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Blood Brothers Present: Listening to Reason

At long last: Listening to Reason, as part of The Blood Brothers Present: PULP.

Written by Yours Truly

Directed by Matt Johnston


Jessi Gotta - Marc Landers - Patrick Shearer


Gyda Arber - Michael Criscuolo - Anna Kull - Brian Silliman

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Monday, July 28, 2008

As You Like it

Congratulations to the cast and crew of Boomerang's production of As You Like It for being nytheatre'com's Pick of the Week!

Thanks to the cast, which features many Nosedive vets and alum (Jessi Gotta, Kid Sis Comtois, Michael Criscuolo, Scott Williams) and direction by Matt Johnston (of PULP fame), this is a truly fine and fun production of Shakespeare's "chick dresses up as a dude" comedy, not to mention the fastest two hours of theatre I've ever experienced (no small feat with a Shakespearean play).

Obviously, since I'm so connected to many of the people involved in this production (hell, my sister's in it, fer God's sake), I really couldn't/can't write a formal review. (Jessi, for example, is becoming very much like Patrick for me where I could watch either of them read the phone book and be captivated. She's amazing in this, and Mark DeFrancis is spot on in his review when he writes: "She is a performer to watch out for.") But still, I feel compelled to plug and comment on it, since, frankly, it is so damn good.

It's very fun. It made me laugh out loud many times. It's playing for two more weekends up in Central Park (near West 69th Street). It's free. Go see it.

For pictures click here.

Liking it just fine,

James "Drag Queen" Comtois

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Have you ever noticed that the people that devote their time and energy to humanitarian efforts are often incredibly uncomfortable dealing with humans? Perhaps there's something in their chemical makeup that makes it easier to deal with humanity in a broad and theoretical way, rather than deal with humans as individuals.

Bobby Guffin, one of the protagonists in David Ian Lee's ambitious and compelling play, Sleeper, is such a character. He wants to make the world a better place. He may even want to save the world. He also wants to avoid interacting with his wife at all costs.

The first half of Sleeper takes place in various cities and towns in March of 2003, just before the U.S.'s war on Iraq. The aforementioned Bobby works as a freelance consultant for hospitals, trying to organize and improve their admittance and insurance policies. He's disillusioned with his work. After a chance encounter with an old college buddy, he decides to go to Afghanistan to help build roads. His wife, Teri, spends most of her time trying - and failing - to connect with her sick father and waiting in vain for Bobby to give her the time of day.

Meanwhile, Rachel Anderson, an ambitious right-wing talk show host, is finding her career bashing the left and praising President Bush skyrocket.

In Afghanistan, Bobby is kidnapped and held hostage, which sets the stage for the second half. Teri is now a left-wing activist, although it's unclear as to how much she really cares about her husband versus how much she cares about using his abduction to fuel her own causes. Rachel's reporting of Bobby's abduction has boosted her career even more, making her one of the most prominent right-wing television pundits along with Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity.

The bulk of the second act flips back and forth between Bobby being held hostage in an undisclosed location in April of 2003 and a live on-air interview with Teri on Rachel's hit TV show in 2008.

One of the things that saves Sleeper from being merely a position paper against the Bush administration's foreign policy is that it is populated with well-rounded, believable characters, not archetypes or mouthpieces. As hateful and infuriating as Rachel is, she's not a two-dimensional monster, but a somewhat tragic and yes, even sympathetic figure blinded and consumed by zeal and ambition. Bobby and Teri are not purely idealists, but are haunted by personal traumas: they have problems concerning marriage, intimacy, and past pains, not just problems of political ideology. Even Bobby's captors are portrayed as having conflicting feelings about what they're doing.

Also, there are some intense, visceral moments in the show that make Sleeper an engaging theatrical experience as opposed to soapbox grandstanding.

The acting is stellar across the board, with perhaps Kristen Vaughan nearly stealing the show as Rachel. In addition to writing the script, Lee is quite effective as Bobby. Karen Sternberg is wholly believable as Teri.

Micah Chartrand, David Dartley, Jason Griffith, Emily Hagburg, L.Jay Meyer, and Craig Lee Thomas round out the rest of ensemble cast nicely.

There's a definite tonal and stylistic shift between the two acts, due in part to Lee's script and in part to Nat Cassidy's direction. For example, there's a stylistic choice made in Act One (where the cast members remain on stage rather than exit after their scenes) that is eliminated in Act Two, save for a brief return towards the end. I'm inclined to say that it works, or at least, that it didn't bother me, even though some audience members may find it jarring.

Sleeper deals well with the political as well as the personal, and astutely explores why and how there's often a divide between the two. It is a very fine production of a very fine play.

Sleeper plays for three more nights (August 3,4 & 5) at manhattantheatresource (177 MacDougal Street). For tickets go here.

Fearing intimacy,

James "Political Atheist" Comtois

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Gerald's Method Review for

My review of Gerald's Method is now up on

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Daniel Gallant writes, directs, and stars as the eponymous Gerald in Gerald's Method, an intriguing yet slightly frustrating one-act about characters using... [keep reading]

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Very Brief Assessment of The Dark Knight

Holy shitballs it's amazing.

Quite possibly The Best. Superhero Movie. Ever. Made.

I'm not exaggerating.

Heath Ledger has set the bar for on-screen villains and has created the Definitive Joker. Every time he was on the screen I simultaneously felt elated and nauseous with dread. He needs to win the Oscar.

I'm not kidding.

I'm seeing this a few more times in the theatre.


James "Giddy" Comtois

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Flies in the Snuffbox Review for

My review of Flies in the Snuffbox is now up on

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Flies in the Snuffbox is a collection of three light, fun, and silly plays by Anton Chekhov that made me... [keep reading]

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Well, I Just...

...finished the rough draft to my theoretical contribution to the next Blood Brothers show. Let's just all cross our fingers and hope that we can actually, y'know, do it (read: get the rights since it's an adaptation).

One script down for this month, two to go.

Almost halfway there,

James "The Ritchie Sambora of the
New York Indie Theatre Scene" Comtois

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Monday, July 14, 2008

nytheatrecast: "Shakespeare Al Fresco"

Episode #229 features a roundtable discussion about presenting and performing Shakespeare outdoors in New York City, featuring directors of current productions of the previously-plugged As You Like It, as well as productions of Pericles, Daydream, (Midsummer Night’s Dream, adapted specifically for children), Twelfth Night and Henry V.

Listen to it here.

Gettin' ready for some pentameter,

James "Iambic" Comtois

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Crave/Somewhere in the Pacific Review for

My review of Crave/Somewhere in the Pacific is now up on

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I suppose the theme of Potomac Theatre Project's double-bill of Sarah Kane's Crave and Neal Bell's Somewhere in the Pacific is "looking for love in all the wrong places." This is pure guesswork on my part, since the two plays are so... [keep reading]

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Quote Du Jour

As much as her reviews often annoy me, Stephanie Zacharek hits the nail square on the head with this line about Guillermo del Toro in her review of Hellboy II (which I highly recommend):

"The bald truth is that del Toro is one of the few young filmmakers working in the mainstream who actually has any vision, as opposed to just a knack for dreaming up cool effects."

Very well said.

Carrying a village on my head,

James "Little Red" Comtois

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Thursday, July 10, 2008 Interviews Jake & Larry from Four Chairs

Check out this interview on with my friends Jake Krueger and Larry Kunofsky, co-founders of Four Chairs Theatre.

Their follow-up production to their inaugural A Guy Adrift in the Universe (which was one of the best plays I saw last year), What To Do When You Hate All Your Friends, opens on July 19.

I for one can't wait to see this.

Adrift and hating,

James "Best Buddy" Comtois

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Coming Soon: Their Back Pages

Okay, buckle the fuck up, bitches. The latest installment of The Drafthouse is coming up in about a week and you should check it out. I actually saw a version of this about...oh, when was it? Two years ago now?...with Isaac Butler and Jonathan Lethem. Below are the details.

Horse Trade presents

The Drafthouse @ Under St. Marks
A play reading salon

This month:

Their Back Pages

based on the story by Jonathan Lethem

adapted by Isaac Butler, Abe Goldfarb and Brian Silliman

Directed by Isaac Butler

Featuring Abe Goldfarb and Brian Silliman

When: Wednesday, July 16th at 7pm

Where: Under St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place between 1st Ave and Ave A)

Suggested donation of $5

Drinks served

Based on a short story by award-winning author Jonathan Lethem, THEIR BACK PAGES traces the adventures of a group of B-list comic strip characters shipwrecked by their authors. With no hope of escape, can they learn to survive?

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Captain Ersatz!

I stumbled upon this wiki page regarding Captain Ersatz characters (characters clearly based on other established characters), which references Colorful World.

Pretty weird, albeit kinda neat as well.

Himself a knockoff,

James "Stuporman" Comtois

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Laura Axelrod on Why Music Sucks

Miss Laura Axelrod succinctly and accurately explains why modern music is so shitty nowadays here.

I'm now going to curl up into a fetal position and cry myself to sleep.

Keeping it real,

James "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter" Comtois

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Congratulations, Lil' Buckbuck!

At the Brick Theater's closing night Film Festival Awards ceremony, lil' kid sister won an award:

Best Alcoholic Newcomer.

Below is a picture of her (drunkenly) accepting the award and making her"speech."

Is anyone really surprised?

Proud, but not surprised,

James "Drunken Master" Comtois

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Coming Soon: As You Like It

Later this month, to mark their 10th anniversary season, the Boomerang Theatre Company is staging Mr. William Shakespeare's play, As You Like It, directed by and starring several Nosedive vets. Below is the release.

The Boomerang Theatre Company Presents

As You Like It

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Matt Johnston

Designed by Carolyn Pallister


Rebecca Comtois - Michael Criscuolo - Jessi Gotta - John Greenleaf - Robert Leeds - Brian Moore - Eli Schneider - Maria Silverman - Alisha Spielmann - Christian Toth - Matthew Trumbull - Scott Williams

Music accompaniment composed and performed by Scott Williams

The Boomerang Theatre Company will present Shakespeare’s As You Like It in Central Park July 19th-August 10th, 2008. Boomerang is celebrating its 10th Anniversary in 2008, and this production commemorates the company’s inaugural production of As You Like It in 1999. The show is free to the public, with no tickets or reservations required. Performances are Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2pm, on the lawn at 69th Street and Central Park West.

Rosalind is banished and dressed as a boy. Orlando is on the run but smitten by a girl he saw fleetingly at court. Phebe is in love with Rosalind's male persona. Touchstone is in love with Audrey the milkmaid. Audrey...well, she is none too bright. But that's ok, because Celia is in love with bad boy Oliver. And among all this lovin', Jaques wants none of it.

As You Like It will perform July 19th-August 10th, 2008 on Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2pm. The production is free, with no reservations or tickets required for attendance. Audiences are encouraged to bring a blanket and picnic lunch and enjoy the show. Audiences can find the performance on the lawn just inside the park at 69th Street and Central Park West. Please enter at 69th Street and follow signs that guide you to the location.

For more information, click here.

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