Meet the Rogue

Live theater. Unsolicited commentary.
From Detroit to Lansing.

Carolyn Hayes is the Rogue Critic, est. late 2009.

In 2011, the Rogue attended 155 plays, readings, and festivals (about 3 per week) and penned 115 reviews (about 2.2 per week).

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Theaters and Companies

The Abreact (Detroit)
website | reviews | 2011 SIR

The AKT Theatre Project (Wyandotte)
website | reviews

Blackbird Theatre (Ann Arbor)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Detroit Repertory Theatre (Detroit)
website | reviews

The Encore Musical Theatre Co. (Dexter)
website | reviews

Go Comedy! (Ferndale)
website | reviews

Hilberry Theatre (Detroit)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Jewish Ensemble Theatre (West Bloomfield)
website | reviews

Magenta Giraffe Theatre Co. (Detroit)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Matrix Theatre (Detroit)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Meadow Brook Theatre (Rochester)
website | reviews

Performance Network Theatre (Ann Arbor)
website | reviews

Planet Ant Theatre (Hamtramck)
website | reviews

Plowshares Theatre (Detroit)
website | reviews

Purple Rose Theatre Co. (Chelsea)
website | reviews

The Ringwald Theatre (Ferndale)
website | reviews

Tipping Point Theatre (Northville)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Threefold Productions (Ypsilanti)
website | reviews

Two Muses Theatre (West Bloomfield Township)
website | reviews

Williamston Theatre (Williamston)
website | reviews







Entries in Shakespeare (13)


Season In Review — Blackbird Theatre

If nothing else, the Blackbird Theatre's season was a true test of its mettle. From producing a strong first half to suddenly announcing a swift change in venue to postponing its spring plays until next season, its journey has been a roller coaster ride that hasn't entirely subsided. However, the Blackbird battled setbacks with a daring original musical, followed by a long-awaited announcement about the organization's future. Yet the turbulent and dramatic real-life events of this season should not overshadow the many artistic accomplishments of this outspoken and experimental theater.

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The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Something in The Two Gentlemen of Verona compelled director Barton Bund to play it in the vein of a Judd Apatow movie: the story of hapless losers and their shortcomings as they bumble through adulthood and responsibility. The resulting Water Works Theatre production contains much evidence in support of the notion, although whether the entirety of the play is ready for this take is less clear. However, from the silly song and dance numbers to the fluorescent design that blazes in the fading sunlight of Royal Oak's Starr Jaycee Park, the show's two and a half hours deliver a familiar flavor of contemporary humor via an unlikely channel.

Quite like the "bro" comedies that inspired it, this production finds riches in its wacky supporting characters. As the Duchess, Linda Rabin Hammell is hilariously eccentric in voice and mannerism, conducting one of the play's funniest scenes in which she catches a young troublemaker about to steal away with her daughter. Jaime Weeder and Tommy Simon are highly emphasized in their roles as conniving servants; Simon in particular has a multifaceted humor that belies uncanny control and awareness. Stephen Blackwell carefully renders man-of-few-words Thurio duller than furniture, which in itself becomes an effective punchline. Sean Paraventi plays a handful of small roles to keep the cast compact, doing his best work as secretive Eglamour. A real, live dog gets surprising stage time as Crab the Dog and reaffirms that having an animal onstage is never not funny.

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A Midsummer Night's Dream

The evening I spent watching A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Blackbird in Ann Arbor had me lamenting the numerous shows I've missed seeing there in recent years. Director Bart Bund has an ease with Shakespeare to which other directors should aspire — he's comfortable experimenting with the source material without crossing over into irreverence.

I read in a review that having five actors play all the roles was well executed, but it is a particular marvel that not only were the characters' identities crystal clear, this was also the most accessible Shakespeare I have ever seen. Even in very good stagings of Shakespeare plays that I've read or seen before, I can momentarily lose the thread of narrative or have trouble distinguishing similar-looking actors. Here, the characters were thoughtfully crafted and the language enlivened with a sense of play that never fell into recitation.

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