Friday, January 31, 2014


The Philadelphia Theatre Company, located in the Suzanne Roberts Theatre at Broad and Lombard Streets, is presenting Nina Raine’s award winning drama, Tribes through February 23.  Set in London, Tribes was commissioned for London’s Royal Court Theatre where it won an award and was nominated for several other awards for Best New Play. It received similar acclaim when it played on Broadway. It is captivating Philadelphia audiences as well.  The very talented ensemble cast takes on the persona of a quirky family.  Jacob Judd portrays the boisterous, eccentric father who believes everyone should share the same traits; thus he raised his deaf son to lip-read rather than sign.  Tad Cooley portrays Billy.  Having been born deaf is not the only trait that makes him different from the rest of his family.  Despite being “handicapped”, he is the only character with a sense of normalcy.  Alex  Hoeffler portrays Billy’s brother Daniel. The voices that occur in his head make him rather disturbed.  His sister Ruth, played by Robin Abramson is very fragile and his mother Beth, a struggling author portrayed by Laurie Klatscher, has a difficult time in keeping peace in the family.  Nina Raine has smacked the audience into the center of the conflict that arises for the deaf.  Is it more beneficial to learn to sign or to lip read?  Billy has  been raised in a hearing household; yet when all the bickering and subtleties of conversation fly around the room in rapid sequence, he is at a loss to catch it all and his questions are dismissed.  When he meets Sylvia, someone who is losing her hearing, a whole new world opens up to him.  The final result will have you sniveling. This work gives great insight into the world of the deaf and the hearing impaired.  It is not something that should be missed but don’t go without a tissue.  For more information or tickets, call 215-984-0420 or visit online at

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Water By The Spoonful

chat room for recovering narcotic addicts
The Arden Theatre, located at 40 N 2nd Street, is presenting Water By The Spoonful, the middle play of Quiara Algria Hudes’ trilogy, through March 16 on its Arcadia Stage.  It is easy to get lost in the beginning of the show as the emphasis shifts from two cousins to unrelated people logging in and out of a chat room.  By the end of the first act a common thread appears leading to an “aha” moment. Such a moment is not necessary to appreciate the brilliance with which Hudes tells her tale. While the piece is set in Philadelphia, Puerto Rico, Japan and California, the primary setting is a chat room for recovering narcotics abusers.  Very real emotional ties are forged and bonds formed amongst those who regularly support each other online. It is when the physical world and the cyber world come head-to-head that apple carts are upset. Water By the Spoonful is a very powerful work and each member of the ensemble cast gives a commanding performance.  The set is stark but allows actors’ movement throughout the entire stage area and encourages audiences to use their imagination when envisioning the different scenes.  This was a 2012 Pulitzer Prize winning play.  Don’t miss an opportunity to see it. A reading of the first work in the trilogy, Eliot, A Soldier's Fugue, will be held on Monday February 24 and a reading of the final part of the trilogy, The Happiest Song Plays Last will be read at the Arden on Monday, March 10.  For more information or tickets, call 215-922-1122 or visit online at 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Other Desert Cities

Greg Wood,Susan Wilder, Krista Apple
Walnut Street Theatre, located at 825 Walnut Street, is presenting Other Desert Cities on its main stage through March 2.  It is difficult to know who to applaud first in this production- the design team, the playwright, the actors or the director.  Scenic Designer Todd Edward Ivins has designed a set that is nothing short of breathtaking.  Audience members gasp as they enter the theatre and see the Palm Desert home he has created on the stage.  Prize winning Lighting Designer Thom Weaver has once again designed an award-worthy set.  Multiple lights are brightened and dimmed in the home to indicate passage of time.  Award winning Sound Designer Christopher Colucci has cleverly interspersed sound between scenes and award winning Costume Designer Colleen Grady has designed ensembles for the characters that match their personalities.   Playwright Jon Robin Baitz has been nominated for the Pulitzer, Drama Desk and Tony Awards.  He has not only given life to characters  who have great depth, but has written a story line with a surprising twist as well. The ensemble cast plays very well against each other, building the momentum of the play.  When young novelist Brooke Wyeth returns home after a six year hiatus with a new book, tempers flare and family secrets crumble. Brook must determine if the price of keeping her family together is worth losing her new-found self. This drama is a must-see event.  For more information or tickets, call 215-574-3550 or 800 982-2787 or visit online at

Friday, January 24, 2014

Gideon's Knot

Karen Peakes & Alice M. Gatling
InterAct Theatre Company, located at 2030 Sansom Streets, is presenting Gideon’s Knot through February 9.  A keenly stimulating two-woman performance, this piece is set in a 5th grade classroom during a parent-teacher conference.  Scenic Designer Colin McIlvaine has done an excellent job with the depiction of an elementary school classroom.  As the presentation unfolds, stereotypes are nurtured only to be blasted apart.  Niceties dissolve into acrimony and are replaced once again with solicitude.  Playwright Johnna Adams has intimately crafted a tale that gives us a peek into a ten-year old’s psyche as carefully as one can peel an onion, layer by layer.  In the search for answers following the sudden death of a 10 year old student, his mother, Corryn, played by Alice M. Gatling and his teacher Heather, portrayed by Karen Peakes, each reveal many strata to the core of their existence as well.  The acting in this production is superb.  Karen Peakes aptly plays the inexperienced teacher who tries to protect the majority of her pupils from a student she neither understands nor is certain can’t be a threat.  Alice M. Gatling portrays a much stronger personality who is determined to discover the underlying cause of her son’s death.  Drama doesn’t get any better than this. For more information or tickets, call 215-568-8079 or visit online at

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Beautiful Thing

Ste and  Jamie
Mauckingbird Theatre Company, known for its gay-themed works, is presenting Beautiful Thing at the Skybox at the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom Streets, through February 2.  This 20 year-old tale, written by English playwright Jonathon Harvey, peeks into the lives of dysfunctional families in a rough working–class neighborhood of London’s South End.  As a result, the audience is treated to an insider's glimpse of a blossoming relationship. A teen-aged crush on the boy next-door leads to the emotional stability of the majority of the characters in the cast.  Melanie Julian does a first-rate job of portraying Sandra, the flighty, irresponsible single mother of Jamie. She appears to show some signs of maturity only once her son has “come out” and she has come to terms with who he is.  Griffin Back portrays Jamie and Kevin Murray portrays Ste, the boy next door.  Both young men do a commendable job of overcoming initial awkward situations and coming to terms with their inner psyches. Sophie Yavorsky adds an interesting dimension to the stage as she plays a female teenage neighbor with her own peculiar hang-ups. Scenic Designer Andrew Laine has done an outstanding job with the small stage of the Skybox.  The audience members actually feel that they are a stone’s throw away from every apartment. The bedroom conversion is exceptional. This show has a very short run so don’t delay in getting your tickets.  For further information or tickets, call 215-923-8909 or visit online at