Review: Guards at the Taj, Bush

“Was it fucked up? Yes, it was. But I don’t have to feel terrible about it”

Opening up the newly-refurbished Bush Theatre is Rajiv Joseph’s 2015 play Guards at the Taj. Allocated seating and dynamic pricing have been introduced, accessibility addressed and terraces built, we’ve come a long way from the intimate room above a pub that was its original home. And it’s a fascinating piece of writing to go with, an unexpected move perhaps but enjoyable nonetheless.

Inspired by the legend, for which there is no factual basis, that seventeenth century Mughal emperor Shah Jahan ordered that the hands of all the craftsmen who were involved in the construction of the Taj Mahal should be cut off. He commissioned the mausoleum for his favourite wife and the mythos behind the story is that he wanted to ensure that they could never build anything of equal beauty. Continue reading “Review: Guards at the Taj, Bush”

Winners of 2016 Lucille Lortel Awards

Outstanding Play
The Christians Produced by Playwrights Horizons and Center Theatre Group. Written by Lucas Hnath
Eclipsed Produced by The Public Theater. Written by Danai Gurira
Gloria Produced by Vineyard Theatre. Written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
WINNER – Guards at the Taj Produced by Atlantic Theater Company. Written by Rajiv Joseph
John Produced by Signature Theatre. Written by Annie Baker

Outstanding Musical
WINNER – FUTURITY Produced by Soho Rep. and Ars Nova in association with Carole Shorenstein Hays. Music by César Alvarez with The Lisps, Lyrics and Book by César Alvarez
Iowa Produced by Playwrights Horizons. Written by Jenny Schwartz, Music by Todd Almond, Lyrics by Todd Almond and Jenny Schwartz
Southern Comfort Produced by The Public Theater. Book and Lyrics by Dan Collins, Music by Julianne Wick Davis, Based on the Film by Kate Davis, Conceived for the Stage by Robert DuSold and Thomas Caruso
Tappin’ Thru Life Produced by Leonard Soloway, Bud Martin, Riki Kane Larimer, Jeff Wolk, Phyllis and Buddy Aerenson, Darren P. DeVerna/Jeremiah J. Harris and the Shubert Organization. Written by Maurice Hines
The Wildness: Sky-Pony’s Rock Fairy Tale. Produced by Ars Nova in collaboration with The Play Company. Text by Kyle Jarrow & Lauren Worsham, Songs by Kyle Jarrow Continue reading “Winners of 2016 Lucille Lortel Awards”

Nominations for 2016 Lucille Lortel Awards

Outstanding Play
The Christians Produced by Playwrights Horizons and Center Theatre Group. Written by Lucas Hnath
Eclipsed Produced by The Public Theater. Written by Danai Gurira
Gloria Produced by Vineyard Theatre. Written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Guards at the Taj Produced by Atlantic Theater Company. Written by Rajiv Joseph
John Produced by Signature Theatre. Written by Annie Baker

Outstanding Musical
FUTURITY Produced by Soho Rep. and Ars Nova in association with Carole Shorenstein Hays. Music by César Alvarez with The Lisps, Lyrics and Book by César Alvarez
Iowa Produced by Playwrights Horizons. Written by Jenny Schwartz, Music by Todd Almond, Lyrics by Todd Almond and Jenny Schwartz
Southern Comfort Produced by The Public Theater. Book and Lyrics by Dan Collins, Music by Julianne Wick Davis, Based on the Film by Kate Davis, Conceived for the Stage by Robert DuSold and Thomas Caruso
Tappin’ Thru Life Produced by Leonard Soloway, Bud Martin, Riki Kane Larimer, Jeff Wolk, Phyllis and Buddy Aerenson, Darren P. DeVerna/Jeremiah J. Harris and the Shubert Organization. Written by Maurice Hines
The Wildness: Sky-Pony’s Rock Fairy Tale. Produced by Ars Nova in collaboration with The Play Company. Text by Kyle Jarrow & Lauren Worsham, Songs by Kyle Jarrow Continue reading “Nominations for 2016 Lucille Lortel Awards”

Review: Gruesome Playground Injuries, Gate

“What have you got, a death wish?”

The first thing to strike you as you enter the Gate for Gruesome Playground Injuries is Lily Arnold’s design. A jagged streak of clinical white bisects the theatre, Mariah Gale and Felix Scott already sit onstage, the traverse staging exposes half of the audience in this already intimate space. Rajiv Joseph’s intimately bruising two-hander initially sustains the premise that is promised by the visual ingenuity and its intriguing concept, but the writing runs out of steam before its 80 minutes are over and so ultimately proves a bit of a frustrating watch.

Kayleen and Doug first meet aged 8 in the nurse’s room of their school – she’s got a sore tummy and he rode his bicycle off the roof of the school and a perverse attraction with each other’s sickness soon grows between the pair. We then trace their (not-)relationship through the next 30 years, jumping back and forth through time as they are repeatedly drawn together at key moments in their lives despite having drifted far apart in the intervening periods. Their encounters are almost always based around a new injury suffered by one but as Doug’s daredevil stunts continue with a horrific disregard for his own safety and Kayleen’s internal demons prevent her own happiness, it is clear that this is a vicious cycle of pain in which they are trapped. Continue reading “Review: Gruesome Playground Injuries, Gate”

Nominations for the 2011 Drama Desk Awards

Outstanding Play
Jon Robin Baitz, Other Desert Cities
Adam Bock, A Small Fire
Stephen Adly Guirgis, The Motherf**ker With the Hat
Samuel D. Hunter, A Bright New Boise
Rajiv Joseph, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
David Lindsay-Abaire, Good People
Nick Stafford, War Horse

Outstanding Musical
In Transit
Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical
See Rock City & Other Destinations
Sister Act
The Book of Mormon
The Kid Continue reading “Nominations for the 2011 Drama Desk Awards”

Nominations for 2010-2011 Outer Critics Circle Awards

John Gassner Playwriting Award
Matthew López, After the Revolution
Matthew López, The Whipping Man
Kim Rosenstock, Tigers Be Still
David West Read, The Dream of the Burning Boy

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Norbert Leo Butz, Catch Me If You Can
Josh Gad, The Book of Mormon
Daniel Radcliffe, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Tony Sheldon, Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Aaron Tveit, Catch Me If You Can
Continue reading “Nominations for 2010-2011 Outer Critics Circle Awards”

Nominations for 2009 Lucille Lortel Awards

Outstanding Play
Animals Out of Paper; Written by Rajiv Joseph; Produced by Second Stage Theatre
Becky Shaw; Written by Gina Gionfriddo; Produced by Second Stage Theatre  
Ruined; Written by Lynn Nottage; Produced by Manhattan Theatre Club and Goodman Theatre 
The Good Negro; Written by Tracey Scott Wilson; Produced by The Public Theater in association with Dallas Theater Center
The Sound and the Fury (April Seventh, 1928); Text by William Faulkner, Created by Elevator Repair Service; Produced by New York Theatre Workshop and Elevator Repair Service   

Outstanding Musical
Fela! A New Musical; Book by Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones, Music and Lyrics by Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Add’l Music by Aaron Johnson and Jordan McLean, Add’l Lyrics by Jim Lewis; Produced by Ruth and Stephen Hendel and Roy Gabay 
My Vaudeville Man!; Book by Jeff Hochhauser, Music by Bob Johnston, Lyrics by Bob Johnston and Jeff Hochhauser; Produced by The York Theatre Company and Melanie Herman  
Road Show; Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by John Weidman; Produced by The Public Theater  
Saved; Music and Lyrics by Michael Friedman, Book and Lyrics by John Dempsey and Rinne Groff; Produced by Playwrights Horizons in association with Elephant Eye Theatrical  
This Beautiful City; Composer and Lyricist Michael Friedman, Librettist Steve Cosson and Jim Lewis, Created by The Civilians; Produced by Vineyard Theatre Continue reading “Nominations for 2009 Lucille Lortel Awards”