5 July

From my month abroad, continued from Part 1.


6/11/2018 7:30 PM – Red – Alfred Molina was amazing and natural and authoritative, the actor playing his assistant felt very actorly and choreographed. Watching them paint was mesmerizing. John Logan gives great speech. Powerful, intimate two-person drama.


6/12/2018 7:30 PM – The VOID – Star Wars VR Secrets of the Empire – this is the same company that has the Ghostbusters VR experience at Madam Tussaud’s. This one is better; four of you work together as undercover storm troopers with some great body tracking. We could even get all military and tap shoulders/use hand signals, move in formation, etc. We shot a lot of storm troopers (like over 100), and that became tiresome fast. I had to solve a puzzle under pressure while my team warded off attackers and that was an exciting moment of teamwork. Darth Vader walked towards us deflecting all of our shots and that was terrifying. Lava felt super warm and smelled like some kind of beet soup.


6/13/2018 6:00 PM – Blade Runner Secret Cinema – oh my god do we have secret cinema in America? This was amazing… like immersive theater on crack spread out over five hours in a huge, perfectly converted warehouse. We met all the characters from Blade Runner and some of them sent us on missions. I used personal photos as currency and answered a questionnaire to determine my role (though I’m still not sure whether or not I’m a replicant). In Chinatown it was always raining. There were noodles that tasted incredible. I went with a few members of amazing arch-viz company Recent Spaces, and we looked like this.


6/14/2018 7:30 PM – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Pt 1 – Best stagecraft I’ve ever seen hampered by a terrible script. The work being done with lights and the set and props and sound and choreography is truly (there’s no other word for it) magical, and not in a showy way, but like a really casual way, like ‘oh look a stack of messy papers’ then ‘phwt!’ all tidied up and onto the next thing. I was pretty high up in the balcony but the sightlines were excellent (steepest balcony I’ve ever been in). There was only one scene in the whole show where the action was too far downstage, and everyone in the front of the balcony leaned forward which of course created a ripple effect of worse sightlines for everyone behind. The seats were uncomfortable and squeaky.


6/16/2018 2:30 PM – Fatherland – Blechhhh. The premise sounded like it would be a wonderful exploration of what it’s like to be a father and how that definition and its responsibilities have changed over the last fifty years, but instead it was a verbatim (read: repetitive and rambly) re-enactment of interviews with guys (SO many guys. HUGE cast of like 40 guys, not a woman in sight) talking/sing-talking about how terrible their fathers were to them. It made an hour and a half feel like three hours, and the overall message basically came off as: “don’t become a dad or you’ll ruin your kids’ lives.”


6/16/2018 7:30 PM – Brief Encounter – I was told to see anything by Kneehigh Theatre, and holy goodness I see why.Crazy talented cast– they can dance, they can sing, they all play fifty instruments, great physicality, and oh yes they can change the tone of a scene with nothing but an eyebrow. A lot of Noel Coward shows I’ve seen have felt hyper-farcical to the point of fleeting with no lasting impact, but I genuinely felt for these characters and their plight despite spending half the show laughing at them. There was a very cool effect of doing some entrances and exits by projecting scenes (I believe aping the film), and characters would exit from real life into the film, allowing for a little more “stage” time while the real actor could perform a lightning-fast costume change behind the curtain before reappearing in the next scene. This show, like Fatherland, is an hour and a half, but felt like forty minutes it was paced so well.


6/19/2018 – Bat Out of Hell – Yes, it’s a lot Meatloaf songs. Yes, it’s basically a mash-up between Romeo & Juliet, Peter Pan, The Warriors, and Escape from New York. Yes that creates a plot that’s even more confusing than it sounds. Luckily, it seems to be aware of that and establishes itself as insane right from the little newspapers they give you at the beginning. My friend and I had a generous amount of wtf sort of laughter the whole show. The actor playing Strat may actually come from another dimension.


6/20/2018 – 7:50 PM – Somnai VR – A “lucid dream” experience about 30% VR. I arrived there early and asked if I could go get in an earlier slot. There was a lovely couple, Pip and Megan, who were kind of enough to offer to let me join them despite having no idea who I was. After we all emptied our pockets and put on our sleepwear, we were taken to a strange room where a very AI-y guide told us a bedtime story and asked us questions like “what’s your favorite nightmare?” and “what would you do with more money?” to which Megan said “travel more” and when we were all asked “to where?” we landed on “space.” What ensued was a crazy mind-bendy trip involving a lot of stagecraft, VR, and VR stagecraft where at one point, Pip, Megan and I were all existing as particles in a forest and Pip disappeared.


Megan and I were taken to another room and asked if we would like to find Pip, or go back to sleep. Megan (rightfully) suspected that looking for Pip would be a terrifying experience (based on the creepy bunny lady beckoning us in through that door), so Megan went back to sleep and I offered to look for Pip. I was read a bedtime story, given clues as to Pip’s whereabouts, and then chased around by someone in a black cloak screaming “GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!” until I eventually found Pip in a dungeony room where we could see Megan on a camera but also told we needed to find a key.


More crazy stuff happened, eventually we were reunited with Megan, and taken to a very clinical room where, for the first time, we all laid down in proper beds. A final VR experience ensued where we, holy crap, WENT TO SPACE (Whaaaaa?) but Megan started to laugh maniacally in the middle of the experience. Pip and I thought she might have snapped, but found out later that while Pip and I were being given our pleasant flying dream, she was being ‘punished’ for not searching for Pip and being buried alive (complete with real dirt landing on her). Soon afterwards the experience ended and we found ourselves in a weird post-apocalyptic bar drinking weird post-apocalyptic drinks and looking at holograms while talking about how each of our journeys differed.


We helped each other out in there and this actually became quite the bonding experience (shared trauma can do that I suppose). I now feel very close to Pip and Megan, and I promised that if they ever come to NYC I’ll take them to Sleep No More.


6/21/2018 2:30 PM – Hamilton – I was late to the party (early 2016) with my love for Hamilton, but when it hit, it hit hard. It wasn’t long before I had the whole show memorized and, in some late desperate nights of trying to get my first child to sleep, made the wonderful discovery that he actually responded better to Hamilton songs than to traditional lullabies. Seeing the show on stage for me (4th row, 75 pound tickets) was what I imagine it must have been like to be a Beatles fan, listen to their music a bazillion times, then finally see them in concert. I was close to weeping the whole first act and can’t express what a joy it was to see the visual, live version of this to pair with the music I’ve come to love so much. Some thoughts:

  1. Alexander Hamilton played by Jamael Westman — perfect casting. I thought him being a little ‘too tall’ actually worked. Excellent, nuanced acting gave an emotional spine to the whole show. Also a gorgeous voice. Looking forward to watching this guy… rise up.
  2. Great King George. I liked him hanging out after his third song “Jesus Christ this will be fun!” then he actually has fun. All the fun.
  3. “Vice President isn’t a real job anyway” (instead of the album’s “John Adams doesn’t have a real job anyway”)… becomes a nice foreshadowed Aaron Burr slam for later.
  4. I didn’t feel a ton of chemistry between the actors… there was a bit of a sense of everyone doing their own thing, but it still worked.
  5. Philip’s death was painful and beautiful and perfect… except Eliza gives a way too loud and forced “noooo!” at the end.
  6. George Washington did some weird deep voice stuff that felt more like the actor showing off his multi-octave range than something in line with the character. Didn’t have as much stillness as I would have liked. Some line readings became a little  “Harry didja put yo name in the Goblet of Fire!?
  7. I didn’t realize Madison is played by Mulligan! That’s cool, especially as Jefferson’s hype man; “Uhhh… France.”
  8. The actor playing Jefferson and Lafayette is broader and more hammy than I imagine Daveed Diggs’ portrayal was, but it was fun. He really felt like the opposite of Hamilton in every way.
  9. The moment with Alexander finding out about Lawrence’s death worked really well in a somber blue light… and it’s really lovely that that’s the actor who then plays his son, as that scene thinking about Philip happens right when Lawrence dies. A bit of a reincarnation.
  10. Awesome soloing at the end of the show! I want that on the album
  11. The “Holding bullet’ thing was pretty cool.
  12. The Farmer Refuted is way more comprehensible with the visuals of everything and more distinct audio
  13. Liked Philip being surprised by his mom beat boxing, then Alexander getting into it.
  14. Aaron Burr was really good, but sometimes got too quiet– the only actor who I lost a fair number of lines from.
  15. Eliza’s reading of “Thank you for your service” sounded really British… both times!
  16. Super tight pants. SUPER tight pants.
  17. She’s married to a British officer “OH SHIT!”

11 June

Hello there!

As you can maybe tell, it’s been a while since I’ve been to the theatre. Something about having two kids and a new company can make that difficult, but right now I’m in London for a spell conducting business and I’m seeing as much theatre as I can squeeze into my schedule. Here’s what I’ve seen from June 6, 2018 – June 10, 2018 with some brief  thoughts on each:


6/6/2018 – Killer Joe, Trafalgar Studios
  • Very comfortable theater with tons of legroom and great sightlines throughout, but also kind of feels like an auditorium lecture hall.
  • Loved the set design– allows for both an interior and exterior but also seems to be a comment in itself on how in a poor neighborhood you’re likely to see a lot of interior furniture outside.
  • Solid acting despite one-dimensional characters.
  • Premise seemed to promise a study into the mind of the kind of Mike Ehrmentraut-esque individual who would choose to be a detective by day and an assassin-for-hire by night… but no… he just does it. And with a smile for some reason, despite the poster seeming to indicate the kind of person who can’t remember the last time they smiled.
  • I generally like Tracy Letts’ writing, but I would have preferred to see Harold Pinter or Martin McDonagh’s take on this kind of setup.
6/7/2018 – Quiz, Noel Coward
  • Set design allows for both a courtroom and a game show and is used to great effect
  • I was not familiar with the story of the ‘coughing millionaire’ (guy who was accused of cheating when winning 1 million pounds on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire) and found the story engrossing.
  • Fun, if somewhat insubstantial, audience participation lets you answer some trivia and vote on certain ‘ask the audience’ questions
  • Love how the first act convinces you he’s guilty, then the second act changes a lot of people’s minds. At the end they ask you to vote on if you think he’s guilty or not, then they show you the results from the last week of shows. Seems like a majority always find themselves turned.
6/8/2018 – The Great Gatsby, Secret Place
  • Immersive theater quite unlike Sleep No More. You dress to the nines in 1920s garb and interact with all the characters in The Great Gatsby while all the major events of the novel take place over a single evening of Gatsby’s party.
  • Different characters will try to befriend you and try to take you into more private rooms as they attempt to be the main protagonist of their own story. I went with a friend and was with her about half the time, so we had plenty to compare and contrast after the fact. Toward the end it was particularly fun when Daisy took us both into her bedroom and treated us as confidants in telling us her deepest regrets and worries. When my friend and I were together, we kept being asked if we were married, and our general response of “not to each other” elicited some amusing responses from the characters.
  • Great American accents and great improv– some very organic moments became highlights of the night.
  • We learned to Charleston, kind of!
  • I can see how some people would find the high-level of interactivity of the show very off-putting, but we had an absolute blast.
6/9/2018 – Julie, National Theatre
  • I love love love the original script of Miss Julie and have seen some excellent productions of it and absolutely cannot come to a show like this without bias. With this production I think the script/direction was missing some key elements: tension, seduction, playfulness– and I never really felt like Julie and Jean liked each other, which makes it harder to believe that they might actually run away together, even for a fleeting moment.
  • That being said, as much as I could get past my biases I enjoyed the overall effect of the production very much, but more in how it washed over me than the particulars.
  • The story as a whole modernizes very well. Constantly checking a mobile phone instead of looking at Count’s boots is a nice touch, for example. The new way Julie loses her bird was a surprise… without spoiling too much, she kills it in a way I hope no one would ever kill anything (in the original Jean cuts off its head), and I think there was an opportunity here for Jean to be like “fine, I’ll do it” and then for this to be Julie taking on a level of extreme reactionary assertiveness, to the point of Jean seriously questioning her mental stability. But it happens so quick there’s no time for that.
  • I missed the conflict and complexity of Julie being raised by an ultra-feminist mother to the point of her relationship with men being one of both admiration and subjugation / hatred. Overall I felt like some of a dimension of the characters was sanded off. Maybe for some this will make it a clearer show.
  • The set design is perfect — love the separation between the kitchen area and the party/bedroom, and there’s a final effect of the whole world being sucked backwards which is extremely powerful, despite this being in a service of a different, more cliched ending than the original.
6/10/2018 2:30 PM – Peter Pan (Act 1), Regent’s Park
  • I’ve realized that, similar to Pan’s Labyrinth, I’m a sucker for people in horrible war-torn situations escaping to fantasy realms for solace, and this had that in spades, even going to the level of The Wizard of Oz in casting all of the comrades as characters in Peter Pan and  the field nurse as Wendy.
  • Magical moment: hospital beds flipping upside down to become giant, magical plants in Neverland.
  • The flying was spectacular (especially in an open-air theatre), practically seamless thanks to some deft puppeteering.
  • Not very much music or singing, but what was there was thematic and emotionally resonant.
  • Had to leave at intermission because I was getting too sunburned!
6/10/2018 6:30 PM – Hamlet, The Globe
  • Was a groundling right up against the stage– such a wonderful way to watch a show like this.
  • Hamlet and Ophelia were gender-swapped and I thought it totally worked.
  • This was a very high-energy, somewhat manic Hamlet and I thought she (Michelle Terry) was great. I was totally and utterly engaged.
  • Guildenstern was mute which then meant there was a ton of sign language in the show, which I hope was accurate! Seems like a great opportunity for making the show more accessible to a wider audience.
  • Claudius had a wonderful hairstyle… super spiky and ‘hey look how hip and cool I am compared to the king’ and I just really dug it.
  • A lot of excellent moments but I’ll mention one: the first aside to the audience is Polonius expressing how certain he is that Hamlet is mad, and the whole time he’s speaking to the audience, Hamlet is looking at him like “who the heck are you talking to?”
Tonight I’m seeing Red, then other shows coming up are: Bat Out of Hell, My Name is Lucy Barton, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Pt 1, The VOID VR Star Wars Experience

5 November


Steve Martin’s writing is as sharp as ever in an incredibly fun, incisive, and ultimately hopeful look at how couples find strength in their relationship. (seen 2 PM 11/4/2017)


  • Fantastic premise: a couple that has been actively working on their marriage deals with the conniving plans of another couple that gets their kicks destroying the relationships of others.
  • When I think about the writing on its own, I can (wonderfully) imagine dozens of ways this show could be performed. A lot of freedom for actors and directors to play with, and I would go see another production of this show in a heartbeat with every expectation that it would be totally different from this one.
  • Love the set design (little details especially like the garden hose) and the way meteors fly through the sky. And yeah, as a character mentions, it totally looks like a house from Architectural Digest.
  • I spent a lot of the show having a good time but wondering if the experience was going to add up to anything, and then the last act pays off in spades. A genuinely cathartic experience.
  • All the actors were excellent, and congrats to Keegan and Amy on their Broadway debut. Keegan was borderline a cartoon, but so much damn fun to watch that I was just delighted to hear whatever he was going to say next.
  • So many wonderful little seeds are planted early on in the show that pay off later, and, as usual, my wife figured them out long before I did.
  • Similarly, there’s a lot of little silent moments– a look, a high-five, a ritual, a drink, a dance– that are just wonderf
  • Great show to go on a date with!


  • There’s an ongoing subplot about ‘exploding head syndrome’ that could easily be cut; it makes Amy Schumer’s character a little too over the top. There’s a cannibalism backstory element that accomplishes everything exploding head syndrome is trying to do, but better.
  • The night sky was a little too shiny. When Jeremy slid the glass door open to the outside, with the reflective backdrop,  from the audience it still looked like the glass door was closed. This problem was two-fold in that 1) you had to focus to remember when the door was open or shut and 2) the interior of the house was reflected on the sky the same way it was on the windows.
  • There’s a bunch of David Ives’ Sure Thing-y repeats of the same setup with minor variations that only really justify themselves when we get to the last act. While absolutely hilarious in their individual incarnations, structurally the sum of the parts are not greater than the whole.
  • There’s some infidelity that I didn’t super buy… maybe I don’t need to, but a little more work could have been done to make it feel plausible.


  • Was super-bummed when I heard Alan Tudyk was leaving his role over ‘creative differences,’ but Jeremy Shamos (who I loved in Better Call Saul) fills the role perfectly. And while I have no insight into the deeper reasons Alan Tudyk left the show, allow me to speculate: he’s played a lot of characters like this one, and I can imagine him trying to take a few more liberties with the role to make it fresher than perhaps the show could handle. After all, Keegan chews the scenery so much that it kind of falls to the other characters to be more subdued and, in some ways, archetypal.
  • This would be such a fun show to put on. The last act in particular… mmm. My theater group in college had a blast putting on both Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Wasp and let me tell you: Steve Martin knows how to write a show actors can have a good time with.

31 January


John Mulaney and Nick Kroll wind their comedic stylings into a tight satire of Broadway and the people who go to it  (seen 12/21/2016)


  • High production value– actually quite the visual treat, from the hodgepodge of ‘discarded’ sets to the rather lovely use of lighting to evoke various sentiments (in itself a sending up of that technique)
  • Comedic genius– these are two of the best joke-tellers working today and it shows (also nice little in-jokes for those familiar with their stand-up routines)
  • Surprisingly well-scripted– I was expecting something more loose and improvisational and this was better


  • The interview segment, while a fun chance to let these characters riff, goes on for too long. (we had Rob Corddy and he was very serviceable)

19 December


The Imperial Theater becomes a giant set for a love story straight out of War and Peace (seen 12/15/2016)



  • Amazing commitment from the theater to transform the entire room to fit this one show perfectly.
  • Sitting on stage (Banquet B12) was fun and interactive and a constant thrill. The woman sitting next to me on the aisle got to be hit on by Anatole, whispering in her ear “I love you and I hope you enjoy the show.”
  • Nifty mixes of more traditional Broadway music, traditional Russian music, and, erm, rave music?
  • Scott Stangland was fantastic as Pierre– by far my favorite character. I wish he played a bigger role in the show, and I didn’t miss Josh Groban at all.
  • Also really enjoyed Lucas Steele as Anatole and Lauren Zakrin as Natasha.


  • It… really should not be compared to Hamilton. I mean, it’s fine, good even. But the comparison does not help this show when comparing the stakes and quality of songwriting. After one listen of Hamilton I was able to quote at least a dozen moments verbatim, whereas by the time I got home after The Great Comet I could maybe give you three. Ultimately it felt… insubstantial.
  • I wasn’t invested in the love story. I felt like a stern parent the whole time just thinking “come on, you’re adults. You should know better.” I forgot while watching the show that Natasha is fifteen years old (making this similar to a Romeo and Juliet kind of thing), but considering we’re adapting a section of War and Peace here, I just wanted the show to feel more important.

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