Saturday, March 07, 2009

Stoppard Catch-up

By most accounts, it looks as if Sam Mendes' production of Stoppard's adaptation of "The Cherry Orchard" was a success. (It ends tomorrow, by the way.) Here's a review from New York Magazine to refresh your memory.

Newsweek ran an interview with the playwright, but it was James Mustich at the Barnes & Noble Review who scored the most illuminating conversation with Stoppard this season.

Of course, there are plenty of other plays in the Stoppard repertoire. "Travesties" is set to open at the Sydney Opera House on March 9. For those unfamiliar with the play's literary and historical background, Jonathan Biggins provides a decent summary in the Sydney Morning Herald.

"Rock 'n' Roll" continues to roll out at various venues around the Globe. Productions are planned in Chicago and the Twin Cities. Right now it's playing in Manchester, UK.

Meanwhile, "The Real Thing" is playing at the Salisbury Playhouse in Salisbury, UK.

Bob Crowley, the five-time Tony Award winner, will receive the 2009 Robert L. B. Tobin Award For Lifetime Achievement In Theatrical Design at the TDF/Irene Sharaff awards on March 27 in New York City. Crowley designed the Lincoln Center production of "The Coast of Utopia."

Finally, Stoppard's son Barny has opened a healthy fast-food restaurant.

Photo credit: Jonathan Biggins as Henry Carr in the STC's Travesties.
Photo: Sandy Nicholson

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Review: "Drood" by Dan Simmons

I had a lot of trouble with "Drood," the latest novel from the highly versatile Dan Simmons. For starters, it's nearly 800 pages and the narrative sags badly in the middle. Then there's the fact that its narrator, semi-forgotten novelist Wilkie Collins, is the least reliable biographer this side of Charles Kinbote, so it takes considerable work out what's really happening in the story. Finally, if you're not already steeped in Dickensian lore and "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," you'll miss some of the twists that Simmons sets up.

Ultimately, though, it's a captivating and innovative historical thriller. Not quite up to the standards of Simmons' arctic horror novel "The Terror," but still audacious and impressive in its execution.

Read my review from the San Francisco Chronicle.