Curtain Call 2002/2003 Season

Curtain Call is a featured section of ArtsEditor® that interprets theater as a chance to learn something about oneself, about the world, or about theater itself. We will consider Boston’s theatrical season in this light, providing readers with a reaction to each show that is part-review, part-reflection.

Sweeney Todd
New Repertory Theatre, April 23 – June 8

05.09.03: There’s nothing like a great show done greatly. At the far end of the Green Line, tucked inside the Newton Highlands Congregational Church, lies the New Repertory Theatre, where since April 23rd—and until June 8th—a great show is being done greatly night after night. The show is Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s gothic masterpiece, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The dark tale of revenge gone out of control, of twisted sexual romances, of the worst kind of social revolution and the best-tasting meat pies in all of London, has been enormously popular since its Broadway opening in 1979 and its more recent staged concert starring Patti LuPone and George Hearn. Both those productions, though, were directed on an elaborate scale—the former with a gargantuan set capturing the power of the industrial revolution to corrupt and drown out the individual self, the latter placed in Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall and backed by nothing less than the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. At the New Repertory, however, the theater’s low roof, small size, and generally cramped (though not uncomfortable) and intimate setup have the brilliant effect of making us feel as trapped in Sweeney Todd’s murderous world as Toby in the bakehouse. Combine this with director Rick Lombardo’s clear grasp upon his material and brilliant performances by both Todd Alan Johnson and Nancy E. Carroll as Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett, the most twisted couple this side of the murderers in Hitchcock’s Rope. As I told my friend, whose only experience with Todd had been an ineffective production at Harvard College last spring, “Now that’s Sweeney Todd.”  — Jason Fitzgerald

A New War
Jimmy Tingle’s Off-Broadway Theater, March 7 – April 13

03.29.03: At issue in every major controversy is the response the art world is able to make. In the early weeks of Operation Iraqi Freedom, fear over artists’ ability to declaim the war and spread “unpatriotic” views has created tensions at the Oscars ceremony, burned towers of Dixie Chicks albums, and turned Susan Sarandon into a poster child for dangerous radicalism. Everyone is aware of topical art’s—and topical theater’s—ability to inflame. What people too often forget is its ability to heal. That is why the run of A New War, the new play being performed at Jimmy Tingle’s Off-Broadway Theater through April 13th, could not have arrived at a better time. Despite being written before the real war began, A New War satires the media celebration that warfare has become in modern America. We watch as two co-anchors run to their news desk to announce America’s “brand-spanking new war.” We go on to watch the news conferences that follow (the Attorney General tells citizens where to report unpatriotic neighbors), hear the new pro-war song by country singer “Billy Bob Braggard,” and learn about new wartime fashions and how to hold a war-watching party for friends and family. Four actors perform all the roles, and their energy and unwavering commitment to the absurd world they have created allow A New War to carry itself successfully. The show feels like one long Saturday Night Live skit that has been rehearsed and smoothed to squeeze out as much comedic value as possible. With all the high emotions and strong reactions that America’s real “new war” has brought, the War at Jimmy Tingle’s feels like just the kind of healing experience we need.  — Jason Fitzgerald

Breath, Boom
Huntington Theatre Company, March 7 – April 6

03.15.03: According to the Huntington Theatre’s latest brochure, as many as 38% of young gang members are female, and many of them have been involved in very serious crimes. It is in response to this often forgotten fact that the Huntington has chosen to stage Kia Corthron’s Breath, Boom through April 6th. Much like The Godfather and the mafia, Breath, Boom presents an insider’s view of female street gangs through the story of one girl, Prix, one of the most feared and most powerful gang leaders in Brooklyn. Her story is traced from age 15 to age 30, the story of a leader who is forced to lead past her prime. She goes from being the most feared and respected gang leader in the area to being asked, “Ain’t twenty-eight a bit old for the gangs?” Unlike The Godfather, Prix’s world is never for a moment romanticized. Adam Stockhausen’s set design conveys the many realities—innocent bedroom, back alley, juvenile detention, open park—that Prix must contend with. While Breath, Boom brings Prix’s reality into the forefront of its audience’s consciousness, it does a less effective job of challenging the stereotypes already associated with it. Far too many actresses are so focused on their accents and “street” gestures that any meaning in their lines is lost. Scenes of violence often feel more like hissy fits than truly horrific acts. Playing Missy Eliot’s “Work It” after the final curtain does not help the situation. Corthron’s script has some strong moments, however, and a few notable performances (Zabryna Guevara’s and Jan Leslie Harding’s in particular) and a moving fireworks display (designed by Kirk Bookman) add strength to the production. The strength of Breath, Boom is that it presents what is, unfortunately, a very real part of the American landscape. Its weakness is that it does not quite feel real enough.  — Jason Fitzgerald

It’s a Wonderful Afterlife
The Hasty Pudding Theatricals, February 13 – March 16

02.16.03: The annual Hasty Pudding musical is among Harvard University’s most uniquely ridiculous traditions. Where else can one see a yearly gathering of stodgy conservatives returning to their alma mater to watch, with obvious pride, the College’s brightest male performers parading around in tights and bad wigs singing showtunes in overly confuddled plots? The crowds will not be disappointed with this year’s offering, It’s a Wonderful Afterlife, which applies the classic Pudding formula to a heaven and a hell recast as failing resorts in desperate need for money and about to be smote by both God (“the Landlord”) and the evil-doings of certain slimy evil-doers. The plot is, true to form, overly complex and ultimately unsatisfying, but it does a better job than past shows have of developing and following through on its plotlines. The fun factor is turned way up, and delightfully so, particularly thanks to the work of Tom Low, whose Lilah Kedog is a demonic Mrs. Doubtfire you can’t seem to look away from. Stefan Atkinson’s Imp Otent is adorable, but not nearly as much as Bo Meng’s Ray Nonurparade. Kudos also goes to the character of Juan Than (Nicholas Ma), whose one-line “fortunes” are consistently a riot. Than is also given one of the loveliest musical numbers I’ve seen on the Pudding Stage, “Miso Soup (For the Soul).” Shawn Snyder, in his farewell performance, is incomparable as always as host/manager Euripides Tikkets. I long for the day when a new Hasty Pudding musical will truly shake up its audience, exploding a tired form and presenting a theater that transforms as well as amuses, the way camp has always been meant to do. Nevertheless, I could be settling for far worse than It’s a Wonderful Afterlife, and my remaining anxieties are nothing a little Miso Soup couldn’t fix.  — Jason Fitzgerald

The Shape of Things
SpeakEasy Stage Company, January 31 – February 22

02.01.03: It is difficult to talk about The Shape of Things without discussing its ending. I can, however, discuss its beginning. A young, professional-looking woman with determined features, black lace, and high-heeled boots walks into a museum to stare at a tall plaster sculpture. There is a rope separating her and the intriguing piece of art. After examining the sculpture from a distance, she firmly picks up her foot and places it over the rope. A voice calls to her: “You stepped over the line.” So begins Neil Labute’s exploration into just what it means when you cross over the line. How far would you go for love? Far enough to transform yourself into whomever your beloved wants you to be? How far would you go for art? Far enough to ignore the consequences of your Mona Lisa, or worse, your Frankenstein? When love and art finally do collide, the results are disastrous. The SpeakEasy Stage Company has done a wonderful job of bringing this show to life, guts and all. Its set design is just simple enough and just complex enough to serve the world of Labute’s characters. (In particular, I would like to say that director Paul Melone’s handling of the transitions between scenes involves some of the strongest choices I have ever seen.) The actors themselves, particularly Laura Latreille and Tommy Day Carey, provide such crushing realism that no audience could fail to see the consequences of stepping over the line, even if the characters might. Labute presents no simple answers to how far we humans really might go, only the lingering fear that we might not like the real answers. As the woman in black lace explains to the security guard, “That’s why I did it. To see what would happen.” Go to the SpeakEasy Stage between now and February 22, and see what happens.  — Jason Fitzgerald

Beyond Belief
Lyric Stage Company of Boston, January 3 – February 1

01.08.03: It was only a matter of time before the current crisis in the Catholic Church found expression in the theater, so it is no surprise that the Catholic-themed show now making its world premiere at the Lyric Stage Co., Beyond Belief, places the abuse scandal in the heart of its climactic last scene. What is surprising is what playwright Jack Neary does for the first hour and a half. As the curtain rises we are presented with the perfect comedic formula: Three old ladies (á la The Golden Girls) on a front porch in a Boston suburb, all of them strictly Catholic, and all of them talking about sex. Beyond Belief is a laugh-riot, as the three women try to explain to each other just what President Clinton claims he didn’t do with that “Polish secretary,” or why the “homeless sexuals” want a community center of their own. Although their conversations do not make up the entire show—a pair of comic vignettes provides variety, if not a whole lot else—the show is entirely theirs, much to the credit of actresses Ellen Colton, Cheryl McMahon, and Bobbie Steinbach. The image of these three old women reading the newspapers and struggling to comprehend the state of the world around them is the perfect metaphor for a Church whose tragic flaw is that it is of another time. It must fight to maintain its dignity and relevance amidst ever-changing value systems it was never designed to handle. When “The Issue,” as Neary calls it in his liner notes, is finally discussed, we realize that the consequences of that struggle are not always cute, not always comic, but sometimes unfathomably tragic. It is a good time for a show like Beyond Belief. Though it is far from ambitious and a bit two-dimensional, it should be praised for being a piece of real entertainment that, before it lets us go, has the power to ask: What are we really laughing at?  — Jason Fitzgerald

The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife
The Wilbur Theatre, December 3 – January 12

12.07.02: If you were to walk into The Wilbur Theatre anytime through January 12th, the first thing you’d notice would be…books—lots of them. Books are the most dominating feature of Santo Loquasto’s set design for The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife, now playing with the incomparable Valerie Harper in its central role. Piled from floor to ceiling in a shelf system that is a creature unto itself, these books comprise such a voluminous, dynamic assortment that they are reminiscent of an English professor’s basement. Of course this is no basement but an expensive apartment in uptown New York City, and it belongs to no English professor but to Marjorie, an unemployed allergist’s wife making the transition from depression to midlife crisis. Her problem is that of the classic middle-aged bookworm—so much stuff, so little meaning; so much collected, so little produced. Her mind, like her bookshelves, is a hodgepodge of history, culture, and philosophy struggling in vain for distillation. From this place of crisis proceeds Charles Busch’s play, a comedic, at times hysterical, at times bizarre, examination into just what it is we should do with all the cultural stuff we collect during our lives. Rather than passively absorbing it—what Marjorie’s friend calls “cultural masturbation”—we are forced to ask how best to engage it, to create a whole life in response to its fractured mess. Though this Tale of the Allergist’s Wife is at times a bit overstylized, the performances a bit too far from natural, these complaints are a minor side note to a very strong production that manages—quite appropriately—to be a successful and impressive summation of its own parts.  — Jason Fitzgerald

Huntington Theatre Company, October 18 – November 24

11.07.02: The musical theater has always loved the tale of the plain, socially awkward bachelor(ette) who finally finds true love. Remember Marion the Librarian, too tied up in Balzac to find her white knight—until that smooth-talking “professor” entered the scene? Remember Seymour, wallowing in self-pity and unprofitable herbage—until Audrey (and that man-eating plant) came his way? Remember even Fanny Brice, who knew first-hand how hard it could be when “A Girl Isn’t Pretty”—until that gambler with the ruffled shirt showed her otherwise (at least for a little while)? Charles Strouse and Lee Adams have just added to the list not one but two such luckless lovers, 30-year-olds who finally find each other in 1950s Bronx—Marty Piletti and Clara Ryan. What they forgot to do was to add anything else, and the sad fact of the matter is, we’ve seen it all before. The new musical Marty, enjoying its world premiere at the Huntington Theatre Company, does little that is egregiously wrong. The songs flow comfortably in and out of the script (with a few exceptions), the characters are caricaturish but not entirely unbelievable, there is a fair dose of humor (particularly between Cheryl McMahon and Barbara Andres as Marty’s aging aunt and mother), and in the end the formerly “ugly” characters find themselves the worthy objects of true/cute love. The plot, unfortunately, is delivered through so many layers of cliché and conventionalism that it’s hard to find any of it interesting. It is a hard lesson to learn, but the kind of musical “formula” that Marty depends on is not as trustworthy as it was when Annie opened on Broadway. It has led to an evening full of wholesome intentions, decent conceptions, and hopeless irrelevance.  — Jason Fitzgerald

The Gig
Lyric Stage Company of Boston, October 18 – November 16

10.24.02: There’s got to be, hasn’t there? Something better than all this? Asking this question is an all-too-common part of the human condition, the “lives of quiet desperation” that Thoreau so eloquently criticized. The search for that shining (if only momentary) breach in the monotony finds expression once again at the Lyric Stage Company, where Douglas J. Cohen’s musical The Gig plays through November 16th. A small group of mostly blue-collar workers living unromantic lives finds solace together in regular Wednesday night jazz sessions. One of their number suddenly finds them a two-week job playing at the second-rate Paradise Club in the Catskills. Despite the hesitation that always comes with breaking the mold, the group of amateur musicians takes a leave of absence from their jobs and families for the “chance of a lifetime.” The Gig is rife with the theme of making dreams come true, giving oneself permission to reach that Whitney Houston-esque “One Moment In Time.” While the production is filled with some strong performances (particularly by John Davin, Kathy St. George, and Paul Farwell), occasionally memorable dialogue, and an easily resonant storyline, it suffers from the same problem its characters do—a frustrating inability to get there. The band members lack both strong chemistry and believable relationships, preventing us from connecting with them and making the show’s conclusion—that the only real solution to our frustration lies in each other and in the music we make—resonate weakly. How can we appreciate the salvation of a set of relationships we haven’t completely believed or understood from the start? That being said, if the goal here is to learn to appreciate what is “good,” even when it’s not quite “great,” then perhaps we can start by appreciating The Gig for an enjoyable, if not once-in-a-lifetime, evening of theater. It sure beats quiet desperation.  — Jason Fitzgerald

Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Black Box Theater, October 10 – November 2

10.17.02: When is a story more than just a story? When it is Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, as produced by The Coyote Theatre and now playing at the Boston Center for the Arts’ Black Box Theater through November 2nd. The story being told here is not that of Mrs. Stowe’s Christian-to-a-fault slave who slowly makes his way from a comfortable Northern family to the hell of a Deep South plantation. Rather, it combines that tale with its far-reaching theatrical and cultural tradition. Adapters Floraine Kay and Randolph Curtis Rand have strung out that tradition, folded it like an accordion, and played it, for the very inspired purpose of finding out what sound it makes. A collection of skits and speeches intersperse themselves among narrative episodes, giving the effect of reading a novel and its body of criticism concurrently. Though an interesting and, indeed, rewarding experiment, it is necessarily weakened by our inability to take in the novel before dissecting it. The problem is particularly acute for those who have never encountered the story of Uncle Tom’s Cabin before. Another limitation is the strength of the five-member acting company, required to keep up with the show’s leap-frogging structure. Roles are not only color- and gender-blind but also actor-blind, as characters are played by multiple actors over the course of the evening. A hint of the potential that lies here can be found in the performance of Ramona Alexander, whose boundless versatility and bug-eyed energy are the evening’s main highlights. In general, though, this type of actor-switching often serves to confuse as much as it humanizes and universalizes. Nevertheless, though the tune generated by Uncle Tom’s Cabin‘s accordion may be a near-miss, as a work-in-progress it is quite possibly Boston’s most exciting ticket.  — Jason Fitzgerald

Bat Boy
SpeakEasy Stage Company, October 4 – 26

10.10.02: It’s one thing that your new show is named Bat Boy: The Musical; it’s another that it matches the potential of its title. For much of the show’s first act, Bat Boy is a witty and original retelling of the Edward Scissorhands strange-creature-comes-to-conservative-town story. Before long, however, Bat Boy transforms into a hysterically funny dance on the edge of ridiculousness. The half-boy, half-bat begins to feel normal beside the psychotic veterinarian, the jungle orgy with the random wood nymphs, the G.E.D. the batboy earns in a matter of months, and the show’s conclusion, which would take many Curtain Call columns to properly describe. It has been well-publicized that Bat Boy is a dramatization of a Weekly World News headline. It would be more accurate to say it is Weekly World News itself that is being dramatized, or at least it is the outrageous world the paper “reports” upon. It is a credit to the show’s talented authors and to the enthusiasm and strength of the SpeakEasy Stage Company production that such a show works so well. Particular nods go to Miguel Cervantes, whose physicality as the pre-civilized Bat Boy is breathtaking, and to Mary Callanan, whose revival meeting at the top of Act Two sets the energy level for the rest of the evening. So long as we are willing to trust the kind of imaginations that weave this story together, we can enjoy Bat Boy in the same way we enjoy the outrageous tabloid while waiting to pay for this week’s store of milk and eggs. By its spontaneity and by its commitment to the idea that anything—anything—can happen, Bat Boy: The Musical may add itself proudly to a tradition that includes Psycho Beach Party and Little Shop of Horrors— Jason Fitzgerald

Dracula: A Chamber Musical
North Shore Music Theatre, October 1 – 20

10.05.02: Perhaps it’s not such a bad thing that Les Miserables is going to close. I visited the North Shore Music Theatre this past Saturday to see the American premiere of Dracula: A Chamber Musical, which runs through October 20th. There I was met with a great surprise—not the rewards, but the danger that a show like Les Miserables can present to the musical theater. Everything was here—the succession of huge ballads that test every singer’s vocal range (and in this production, every singer passes the test), the larger-than-life set emphasizing the drama and majesty of the proceedings. There was the literary classic used as source material, and yes, there was the Act One finale bringing every character onstage. (I even started humming “One Day More” to the tune.) It is safe to say that Dracula: A Chamber Musical matches Les Miz spectacle by spectacle. Beyond that, however, lies a show mired in cliché, riddled by forced melodrama, and robbed of all suspense and dramatic integrity by one of the most unconvincing books I have ever seen. Perhaps the show’s creators do not understand that it is not the barricades, the turntable, and the high note in “Who Am I?” that make Les Miserables so successful as a theater piece—it is how brilliantly its authors use elements like these to present a very human story. Songs are sung because they need to be. Love is declared when there is no alternative. We cry when characters do because we have not just been told their pain (as when one Dracula character announces, as though we hadn’t noticed, “You’re growing weaker…and there is nothing I can do to stop it”) but we have been shown it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go listen to “Stars,” and let this Dracula rest in its coffin.  — Jason Fitzgerald

Spinning Into Butter
The Theatre Cooperative, September 27 – October 19

09.28.02: There are so many ways to listen to each other. We may listen to prove something to ourselves, to prove something to others, to intellectualize, to get what we want. We listen as moderators to a “constructive” discussion group, as audiences to the words of a writer or performer, as actors to the unstated needs of our company members. There are also those times, probably fewer than we would like to think, when we listen simply to listen. We open our minds to the thoughts, the frustrations, the needs of another human being, uninhibited by the sound of our own grinding axes. Spinning Into Butter, Rebecca Gilman’s play running at the Theatre Cooperative through October 19th, addresses all the ways we listen in its struggle to dissect racial prejudice in the modern world. “You want me to solve racism with a bulleted list?” screams Dean Sarah Daniels (played by Korinne T. Hertz, who handles the lead role well, considering she is clearly too young for it) to her employer in a pointed mockery of a common misconception—that racism is a tangible “thing” that can be “solved” through education programs and carefully engineered “discussions.” With surprising clarity and piercing realism, Gilman suggests that the solution, if one exists, lies in dialogue that is honest, vulnerable, and open to every kind of voice—in essence, we must overcome our fear of really listening. The message is a strong one, and it could be made stronger if the company actors were more willing to listen to each other while on stage. As it is, too many exchanges feel forced, disconnected, and unreal, weakening what might otherwise be a strong production. Nevertheless, a mature script and some memorable performances (particularly by Fred Robbins as an old-school department chair) make the Theatre Cooperative’s Spinning Into Butter an evening worth listening to.  — Jason Fitzgerald

Dirty Blonde
Lyric Stage Company of Boston, September 13 – October 12

09.20.02: There are rare occasions in theater when a costume separates itself from the actor(s) and becomes a character unto itself. Consider, for example, the mask in The Phantom of the Opera, or the coat in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. One of the newest examples is a tall glittering gown, pink, topped with an immense flowering hat and a bright pink boa draped like a lover’s arms over the shoulders. You can find it at the Lyric Stage through October 12th in the New England premiere of Dirty Blonde, Claudia Shafer’s Tony-nominated play that revolves around stage and screen icon Mae West and two of her greatest fans. The costume gains its own life as actress Maryann Zschau tries it on both as West and as a modern-day woman obsessed with the late actress—simultaneously. Zschau’s seamless gliding from one character to the other (though she is far more comfortable as West) highlights the evening’s ultimate theme: finding the freedom to revel in our pretended identities, our pink boa fantasies, and “tough girl” dreams. As the magic dress leaves its mark not only on West but on the two major characters who idolize her—Zschau’s Jo and Larry Coen’s Charlie (an especially brilliant performance)—we are asked to examine our own relationships with our favorite costumes. (As I write this, the Phantom mask I used to wear around the house still hangs above my dresser.) Go see Dirty Blonde at the Lyric Stage, and while you’re enjoying one of modern theater’s superior scripts, Larry Coen’s unbeatable comedy, and, of course, the antics of Ms. Mae West, ask yourself what your own favorite costumes have meant to you. After all, Ms. Mae loves a man in uniform, and this one fits her grand.  — Jason Fitzgerald

Tea at Five
American Repertory Theatre, September 8 – 22

09.13.02: What is it about the one-actor play? Why, in the proper hands, can it feel like such a jewel? These were my thoughts as Kate Mulgrew marched onto the stage of the American Repertory Theatre for her nightly performance of Tea at Five, Matthew Lombardo’s play about stage and screen actress Katherine Hepburn. With no support other than her sharply designed costume, highly detailed set, and a hurricane coming through the window, Ms. Mulgrew proved herself more than worthy to handle the demands of the monstrous Hepburn, whom she must resurrect both at age 31 and at age 76. “Attention to details,” Kate/Katherine announces, “is the key to success,” and Ms. Mulgrew has clearly taken her alter-ego’s words to heart. Every spark, tic (vocal and physical), and nuance in Hepburn’s famous persona has been captured to near perfection, and it is through the hard work of this amazing actress that I was able to attach words to the je ne sais quoi of the one-actor play. There is little factual information in Tea at Five that could not be found in a biography; the difference between the two is the same as between having a conversation and reading a psychological profile. It is the difference between knowing and knowing about. Praise for a well-written biography often contains a phrase that runs along the lines of “So and So: A Life is so well-written and so well-researched that it feels the Great So has returned to the world of the living.” The walking embodiment of that feeling exists in a show like Tea at Five. The one-person historical drama is a living, walking, breathing, screaming, crying, exultifying biography whose ephemeral magic is so precious because, once we have come through the other side, we find we know our subject better than the longest biography
could allow.  — Jason Fitzgerald

I Sent a Letter to My Love
North Shore Music Theatre, September 3 – 22

09.07.02: For the first twenty minutes of I Sent a Letter to My Love, the new Melissa Manchester musical playing at the North Shore Music Theatre, you would think you were watching a polite farm story, touching only the quaintest vulnerabilities of the human character. The show opens with Amy, an older woman played to less-than-perfection by Cass Morgan, greeting a bird and asking, “How Do You Fly?” Amy and her wheelchair-ridden brother (played by David Garrison) meet Gwen, actress Beth Austin’s hysterically sheltered creation. James Morgan’s set, with its collection of hill-and-valley pictures surrounding the circular stage and an interior so detailed it would make any props master cry, conveys the inoffensive farm atmosphere more effectively than usual for this theater. As Gwen and Amy giggle like schoolgirls over the salacious idea of women in pants, and as Amy indulges her curiosity by placing a personal ad in the paper, you might smile as though your grandmother had just said “sexy.” The next thing you know, a simple plot twist has sent us dive-bombing into a disturbingly incestual relationship fueled by Amy’s darkest neuroses. She verges on a breakdown and nearly destroys her brother as the tender balance between reality and a dream world collapses upon her. This show deserves to be praised for its boldness, strong book, and some worthy performances. Unfortunately, weak lyrics and a sense that it barely understands how disturbing it is makes I Sent a Letter to My Love one of NSMT’s less successful premieres.  — Jason Fitzgerald

Curtain Call is a featured section of ArtsEditor® that interprets theater as a chance to learn something about oneself, about the world, or about theater itself. We will consider Boston’s theatrical season in this light, providing readers with a reaction to each show that is part-review, part-reflection.