Providence: The Incompetence of Small Numbers

Rhode Island has well under a million adults. Providence, the capital, is by far the largest city and the Greater Providence Area probably has about 400,000 people. But the state has almost 20 geopolitical jurisdictions, so it needs 20 chiefs of police, fire chiefs, head librarians, superintendents of schools, mayors/city managers, and so on. Almost every week it seems as if a member of the state legislature or Providence city council is charged, indicted, and/or convicted of crimes, from not …


Well, Hello, Dolly

Hello, Dolly is over half a century old on Broadway alone, and based on Thornton Wilder’s 1938 book, The Merchant of Yonkers. And that was based on an 1835 English play, A Day Well Spent. The setting of the work currently on Broadway is the 1890s. We’re not talking contemporary theater, here. Bette Midler won the Tony for her lead role this year. (It also won Tonys for Gavin Creel as best supporting actor, best musical revival, and best costumes …


I Am Not Spartacus

We were at a well-respected theater last night and saw a play that was so bad—derivative, insipid, predictable—with horrible writing, mindless directing and, quite rare for this place, amateur acting. (One guy recited lines as if he couldn’t wait to get out and go back to his fantasy football game, and he was supposed to be a high counselor! But then again, the king and queen looked stuffed.) The theater was 50% empty on a Saturday night, if you’re ever …


Fences

We had seen August Wilson’s Fences on Broadway, and I decided to watch the movie on the ten-hour return flight from Greece. This was, by a distance too large to assign a coherent number, by far the best movie of the past year. It makes La La Land and Moonlight seem like amateur films, and while Hidden Figures is intriguing for its documentary aspect, it’s not in the same league. How Denzel Washington did NOT receive the Oscar for this …


Hidden Figures

After wasting hours on La La Land and Moonlight, we finally watched a terrific movie last night, Hidden Figures. I had been told that this was really the top film, and of the ones I’ve seen, it’s no contest. (Synopsis: The story of African-American women who played a vital role in the unprecedented calculations required to launch and retrieve astronauts from orbit after the Sputnik scare put urgency into our space program, and the womens’ shabby treatment in the white, …


Lights, Camera, Little Action

My wife and I watched four movies over the past couple of days: Moonlight: This won the Oscar for best picture, and I wouldn’t even recommend watching it on a 16-hour plane ride unless you needed help sleeping. It’s unbearably slow, trounces its point into the ground, and is acted and directed with a sloth-like, glacial speed. Vastly overrated, I’m sorry I spent the time. It’s about an African-American kid with an addicted mother and no father and his homosexuality, …


The Critic

We just got around to seeing Moonlight, the Oscar winning film, and I found it tedious and self-indulgent. It’s as if someone found unfinished notes and published them as a book, not bothering to make connections, meaning, or dramatic tension. I’m not sure how you write, direct, or act with such a total lack of energy or insight. On another note, one of my former favorite TV shows, Homeland, has abundantly jumped the shark. This season’s arc ranged from the …


Gabriel Kreuther: Dining Review

When we asked the concierge at the Baccarat for a good pre-theater restaurant we’ve never tried, she told us there was a terrific French restaurant on West 42nd. A good French restaurant on West 42nd?! Seriously?   We’re adventurous and wound up at Gabriel Kreuther, a fantastic space with plenty of room (as opposed to the packed Le Bernadin, for example) and an open kitchen where 15 chefs were preparing their tasting menu. And, yes, we had a four-course tasting …


Overdone Smug Conceited Arrogant Revolting: OSCAR

I’ve been watching the Academy Awards since I was a kid on black and white television, with Bob Hope hosting. I was always in awe of the glamour and good humor. After we were married, my wife and I made it an annual ritual and I tried not to travel on that Sunday. Last night’s Oscar ceremony was a self-congratulatory excess of self-importance. It starts with the absurd Red Carpet and lasts for about seven hours. Women in loaned dresses …


The Mountaintop

Trinity Rep is currently performing The Mountaintop by Katori Hall (directed by Kent Gash). It takes place in a single 100-minute act in the motel room outside of which Martin Luther King was shot on the balcony. It is a supernatural play about a hotel maid cum angel (Mia Ellis) who prepared King (Joe Wilson, Jr.) for his death. Wilson is a Trinity actor of long-standing and great versatility (he was the emcee in Cabaret, for example) and this is …