12/16/15 11:23am

Why is this waiter angry? You’ll figure it out. Photos by Andre Callot

All credit to the director and actors of How To Get Into Buildings, the new play at the Brick. Without Katherine Brook’s relentless, searching direction and the game performances of her six performers, Trish Harnetiaux’s new show could have been less the fireball catastrophe that (I think) it wants to be, and more an interminable mash of free associative gobbly-gook. That reads meaner than I intend it to though. I liked the writing, I swear, I did. And I enjoyed this show. Why? Well, let’s try to figure that out together. (more…)

11/10/15 11:48am
Takei's 'Allegiance' falls short of its pledge. via Youtube

Takei’s ‘Allegiance’ falls short of its pledge

If the wild success of Hamilton has taught us anything, it’s that history—whole chunks of goopy, complicated history—can light up a stage in entertaining, delightful ways. In musical form, no less. So long as said history is presented with verve, wit, and a whiff of something different, audiences will happily pay to sit down and get an education.

That said, something tells me that the producers of Allegiance were feeling a few of Lin Manuel Miranda’s thermal gusts when they green-lighted this adaptation of George Takei’s childhood experiences in Japanese-American internment camps. (more…)

11/06/15 3:12pm
You can actually see Hamilton for a Hamilton, if you're lucky. via Facebook

You can actually see Hamilton for a Hamilton, if you’re lucky. via Facebook

Look: we know you want to see Hamilton. We know that your mom back in Iowa wants to see Hamilton. And we know that, in the best of all matronly worlds, your mom wants to see Hamilton with you. But I’m not here to help you with that. The New York Times is here to help you with that.

I, on the other hand, am here to tell you about some cheap theatre hacks that, while not as edifying as, say, a rap duel about the foundations of American civic policy, might still help you on a more fiscal level. Basically, I’m going to tell you how to lie, cheat, steal, bone, and gamble your way into some decent shows.  (I guess I’ll also tell you about company subscriptions and more responsible, less-boning-heavy ways of acquiring discounted Broadway tickets. But we all know which ones you’re going to go for.) (more…)

09/23/15 2:23pm
tk. Photo by Eric Kingrea

It’s like you’re there. Photo by Eric Kingrea

Sometimes it sucks being a part of the invading hordes.  That’s the thought that struck me after catching a production of Stoopdreamer, a new born-and-bred Brooklyn show (written by Pat Fenton, dir: Kira Simring) at The Cell (338 West 23rd Street). The show–a part of Origin’s 1st Irish 2015, New York’s annual Irish theater Festival–is set entirely in Farrell’s Bar & Grill, and is less a fully fleshed out play than a lyrical and meditative history-lesson-as-bar-tale. But it does a lot with what it’s got. Speaking as a relatively new arrival, one of those post-collegiate white kids from Somewhere Else, I appreciated the chance to pull up a stool and listen to a couple of the old guys (and gal) ramble. (more…)

09/10/15 1:23pm
Christie Chiello and Lorelei Ramirez

Two of the actors acting in Actors. Yeesh, say that three times fast

Sometimes it’s nice just to go down a creepy flight of stairs and into a basement theater, y’know? Sometimes it’s nice to see the exposed heating pipes wrapped with rope behind a bare bones stage because, let’s be honest, there’s not a lot of money in this theater thing. Not at this subterranean level. But hey, that just means the tickets are cheap, and so is the beer. Walking down rickety steps to see live performance is kind of like turning over a rock, and seeing what kind of black box bugs are wriggling and clicking down where the sun don’t shine.

I mean that in a good way. Mostly.

So it was that I found myself guiding my most frequent play-going companion underground to the The Annoyance Theater. Located on Bedford beneath the perpetually-locked Williamsburg Music Center, The Annoyance (DOB: Chicago, 1987) has the distinction of being the first improv company to create full-length shows from its sketches and larks. And that’s what brought me down here, into the guts of Williamsburg’s South Side, checking out a new hour-long show called Actors. (more…)

07/10/15 12:42pm
Pine Box Rock Shop. Via Bitch Cakes.

Pine Box Rock Shop. Via Bitch Cakes.

Pine Box Rock Shop
12 Grattan Street (off Morgan Avenue)

What it is: A bar and music venue located steps from the Morgan L stop in an old casket factory.

Why we love it: Owners/oft-bartenders Jeff and Heather are awesome people, encouraging a laid back, dog-friendly vibe where a good conversation isn’t hard to find. It’s also the best place in the area to catch some football while tipping back a local microbrew like Alphabet City Dizzy Brewnette or the latest Brooklyn Brewmaster’s Reserve. You can look over the old show stubs that are scattered as part of the bar top and wonder how many thousands of dollars of concert money are represented beneath your beverage. Live music in a sectioned-off venue, karaoke, Walking Dead watching parties…what’s not to love? Bring good talkers, rockers, groups, zombie-enthusiasts, dog-lovers, and that vegan friend of yours

What to order: Along with a completely domestic, badass beer list with ABV range of 3.8 to a walloping 10.0%, you can try one of their seasonal cocktails like the Dig For Fire (Espolon muddled with jalapenos and simple syrup) or the Phyllis Diller (Jim Beam, apple juice and fresh lemon, served on the rocks with a crisp apple slice).

Regular tip: Pine Box’s beer and cocktails are 100% vegan. If you didn’t know it, everything from bone meal to beetle extract can be found in many adult beverages. Pine Box gets around using certain bar staples like Baileys by making their own vegan cream, using Kahlua and vanilla soy milk. People rave about their vegan empanadas and sometimes vegan food trucks park out front.

06/26/15 4:26pm
There's something fishy about this play...

There’s something fishy about this play…

It is probably safe to say that the only thing playwrights enjoy more than writing about sex is the act itself. A true statement for every kind of writer, really, but it’s all so much spicier in the performance world, isn’t it? Writing a novel, after all, is solitary, introspective, often a pinnacle in the art of self-abuse.   A play is collaborative, exhibitive, and has a whole culture of fucking as its subtle perfume.   Theater can be masturbatory, sure, but at least it’s a circle jerk. And that’s to say nothing of the voyeu…I mean the audience. Conflict, sweat, hot lights, sexy French words like ingénue, and it’s all right there.   You see the actor playing Oedipus and the actor playing his wife-mother. You see Othello atop his doomed Desdemona in her bridal bed. You wonder about the writer who’s putting these people through this. You ponder the director who’s blocking the scene. You imagine things about the actors who are wrestling each other. Walk around any university drama department for a week, and you realize that the question is never “Will They Or Won’t They” but always “Are They Or Aren’t They…And If Not, When?”

I don’t have to pique your interest; you’re already interested. It’s sex.   And for the next week at The Brick in Williamsburg, well, it’s a F!CK FEST. (more…)

03/17/15 9:29am
trash bar brooklyn

Goodbye to all this. via Flickr user All-Nite Images

The Trash Bar.

I realize that there are only a couple of dozen or so people to whom the name evokes something more than a mild nostalgia, or else a wrinkled-nose pang of disgust, if it evokes anything at all.  Say you’re new to town, a fresh face out in Bushwick or Bed-Stuy, you’ve likely never been. And that’s fine, too. Never hip, always dirty, perpetually falling apart, it’s the place with the name tourists giggle at, sticking out like a sore thumb in 2015 Williamsburg. But if you’ve been around, say, the last decade, and been at all into music here in Brooklyn, or karaoke or free alcohol, then chances are you feel one way or the other about it.

I’m a bit different. Trash is closing at some point this year, sometime before August, and after working and hanging out there for eight years, I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around what this means to me and has meant to my life. (more…)

11/12/13 10:52am
amy sherman-palladino

Please don’t corner her with your Rory/Lorelei slash script

To the well-read, sophisticated-but-down-to-earth fans of Amy Sherman-Palladino’s Gilmore Girls (and the late, lamented Bunheads), any imagined encounter with the creator has probably played out like a scene from one of her shows: quick, quippy, punny, funny and well, sophisticated. Coffee is involved, obviously, and everyone is maybe eating Ding Dongs together while saying funny words like “Oy” and tossing off references to W. Somerset Maugham. Well, this Thursday at the Bell House you can see if life is really like a television show, when Sherman-Palladino is interviewed and honored by the podcast Employee Of The Month. (more…)

04/25/13 2:00pm

Banter brooklyn

132 Havemeyer Street (at South 1st Street)
(718) 599-5200

What it is: A beautiful, Irish-owned soccer bar that looks more like the classy pubs Bourdain went to in that Dublin episode of The Layover.

Why we love it: Because the place was so obviously built with love, a love that’s expressed to its patrons through ridiculous drink specials, like the $4 20.oz Bitburgers on Thurdays, or the $4 Guinness deal all Tuesday night (just to nametwo). Every soccer match played is shown live, along with a host of other sports and movies. Twenty beers on tap as well as bottles from around the world, so that no matter which national team you go for, you can feel like you’re drinking at home. (more…)