Yellow Fever

by LIZ PANTING, guest reviewer As Yellow Fever opens, private investigator Sam Shikaze (Kurt Kwan) walks onto a dimly-lit stage in a fedora and trench coat, jazz music playing lazily in the background, and he turns to the audience and begins to narrate his life. It’s a classic hard-boiled crime drama… with a few changes…

Appomattox

by EMILY MEISLER, guest reviewer Appomattox, a new play by Christopher Hampton and commissioned by the Guthrie Theater, presents two distinct snapshots of American history: April 1865, the end of the Civil War; and April 1965, after the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson and just before the passage of President Johnson’s Voting Rights Act. While these…

The Brothers Size

by SOPHIE KERMAN Contemporary theatre has a wide range of potential – to break new artistic ground, to offer pointed social commentary, to provide audiences a window into the lives of others. The Brothers Size, performed in the Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio, tries to do all three. But while the play’s vague nods to Yoruba-inspired mythology¹ do…

Are You Now or Have You Ever Been…

by SOPHIE KERMAN When it comes time to justify their work, the testimony of an artist speaks to much more than simply the words on the page. Although Are You Now or Have You Ever Been… is framed around Langston Hughes’ 1953 hearing in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee, it is not Hughes’ sympathies…

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy

by ANNA ROSENSWEIG How do we talk to children about race? With its recent production Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, The Children’s Theatre Company provides an answer to this question by rejecting its premise. In this new play, an adaptation of Gary Schmidt’s 2004 Newberry Award-winning children’s novel based on a true story, it…

Minnecanos

by SOPHIE KERMAN For those of you with Mexican heritage – or for those of you who, like me, are ashamed of knowing so little about the Twin Cities’ sizable Mexican population – the Mixed Blood Theatre has brought an expanded production of Joe Minjares‘s Minnecanos to the Parkway Theater in South Minneapolis. Minnecanos has, in fact,…

I Wish You Love (Reprise)

by ANNA ROSENSWEIG The Penumbra Theatre is currently reprising its I Wish You Love, an exploration of Nat King Cole’s life, music, and times, after a highly successful world premiere in St. Paul last spring (2011) and a subsequent engagement at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Set at the NBC studios, which somewhat ambivalently…

Four Destinies

by SOPHIE KERMAN For a play inspired by an ethnographic study, Four Destinies has a whole lot of heart and a surprising amount of humor. Playwright Katie Hae Leo was drawn to write the play – which opens Mu Performing Arts‘s 2011-12 season in its world premiere – after reading a study by Kim Park Nelson on adopted children,…