ARTS INTERNATIONAL
Editor/Publisher, Bina Sharif
ARTS INTERNATIONAL covers THEATER, FILM, VISUAL ARTS, CUISINE, AND LITERATURE

Thursday, December 2, 2021

KIKI & HERB SLEIGH AT BAM.

                                              KIKI & HERB SLEIGH AT BAM

               

Kiki & Herb by Justin Vivian Bond and Kenny Mellman is back and it's a roaring 2 hours of songs, music, anecdotes and comedy performed with great joy, enormous energy and plenty of booze and the show is a non stop amazingly hillarious teller of stories in the most enjoyable manner.

These two characters, Kiki &Herb are beloved by fans of Bond and Mellman all over the world. They stopped performing for almost a decade and now are back delighting their followers who never forgot them and are thrilled to have them back. The enormous energy is not only on stage but in the audience who are riveted at every turn, every song and every gesture made by Kiki and Herb during the entire evening.

Not a dull moment from the beginning to the end.  When Mr. Mellman walked in with his glittering jacket and take a seat at the piano singing lyrics of Billy Joel's "Miami 2017 (Seen the lights Go Out on Broadway) and then Kiki, the singer enters and the howls of excitement welcome her. She sings with a meldious voice, move around on stage like a wounded tigress and sings and drink her heart out.

In between the singing Kiki sits on a high chair, have a table next to her with a bucket full of ice and a big bottle of booze of some kind and tell us amazingly funny  stories about the birth of Jesus Christ, how as a child she was taken to an institution where she meets an other toddler, Herb and they practice music in a padded room. Kiki tells us that she is in her 90's and had met everyone important on this palnet, including Sylvia Plath who had the habbit of putting her head in the oven and one day there was no one around and it was too late. Then Kiki gets up and sing many songs, the most effective was, "Crucify, " by Tori Amos, Kiss's "I was made for loving you, " Radiohead's "Creep" and "Jesus Loves MeThis I Know." My very favorite song Kiki sang towards the very end, "Send In The Clowns." by Stephen Sondheim. At one point Kiki looks at the audience with great affection and says, "If I could love I would love all of you." This sentence had such pathos of the awareness of suffering and survival which all human go through but the cabaret act is very much about the happiness of approaching Christmas and being able to celebrate together after the most awful year of isolation. There is also mention of HIV/AIDS epidemic and World AIDS Day which falls on Dec 1, the day I attended the show.

Bond's Kiki also have great critiques of religion and society, At one poing Kiki raises the question about Immaculate Conception as if Mary  was asked for consent or not. No matter what Kiki says can't be annoying at all, actually it's highly amusing and that's because the perfection of their craft together. Mellman and Bond have been performing for a long time and their style, their emotions, their singing is priceless even when Kiki drops the mike and an audience member comes on stage and picks it up for her because she is supposed to be more tha 90 years old and can't bend down so easily. Hillarious and intelligent with incredible wit and sophistication. Their stories seem more real than any real story I have been told. There is courage, conviction, honesty and talent involved. Lots of talent. Bravo.


Reviewed by Bina Sharif

for, artsinternational.blogspot.com

BINA SHARIF: EDITOR, FOUNDER OF artsinternational.blogspot.com

Member of American Theater Critics Association, (ATCA)

email: binashariff@gmail.com

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Sunday, November 28, 2021

NEVER AGAIN, NEVER AGAIN, NEVER AGAIN, I PROMISE

 NEVER AGAIN, NEVER AGAIN, NEVER AGAIN, I PROMISE.

NEVER AGAIN I WILL BE KIND

NEVER AGAIN I WILL BE GENEROUS

NEVER AGIAN I WILL GIVING

NEVER AGAIN I WILL BE POLITE

NEVER AGAIN I WILL FEEL FOR YOU

NEVER AGAIN I WILL BE SINCERE

I WILL ALWAYS BE SUPERFICIAL

I WILL ALWAYS BE PHONY

I WILL ALWAYS BE BUSY

I WILL ALWAYS IGNORE YOU

I WILL NEVER TAKE YOU SERIOUSLY

I WILL NEVER GIVE YOU AN OUNCE OF MY TIME

I WILL NEVER GIVE YOU AN OUNCE OF MY AFFECTION

I WILL NEVER GIVE YOU AN OUNCE OF MY KINDNESS

I WILL NEVER FEEL HURT AGIN

I WILL NEVER ALLOW MYSELF TO BE HURT AGAIN

I PROMISE. I PROMISE. I PROMISE. I PROMISE. I PROMISE.

Thursday, October 28, 2021


Review:  "By Heart"

By: Tiago Rodrigues 

At Brooklyn Academy of Music-BAM Fisher, 321 Ashland Pl. (Now closed)

By Bina Sharif

Any one who is interested in literature or any other soul who wants to be interested, this show is a must

for them.

Not only it will feed your appetite for amazing words, sentences, poems, sonnets ever written by the    greats such as Shakespeare, Ray Bradbury, F. Scott Fitzerald but you will instantly learn one of the greatest Sonnet written by Shakespeare, Sonnet 30 during the show.

The stage has ten empty chairs and quiet a few books on wooden crates in the center of the stage.

If you had no idea about the show, you would think that there are ten actors participating in it, but no, it's a solo.

Tiago Rodrigues charmingly invites ten audience members to join him. I thought he was just kidding in the beginning because he has that ability as if he is just cracking jokes to warm up the audience, but it wasn't a joke and audience members eagerly rushed to participate and whoever couldn't get there on time looked very disappointed. 

He wants them to memorize the whole sonnet line by line. He coaches them like an Orchestra conducter

with grand gestures of his hands, arms and wrists. He takes deep breaths to indicate that they must repeat the line again and again till they get it. Some audience members were very sharp as if they knew the sonnet already and some had a little difficulty but Tiago had lots of patience and persistent in his

pursuit of making them learn and memorize. It was a great pleasure to watch. I really wanted to be one of those ten volunteers but a bit nervous as well,  in case I would have had difficulty during the process, but what a great challange it would have been.  In between the lines of the Sonnet, Tiago would take breaks and improvise and indulge with the audience with great sense of humor and ease.

He is an amazing story teller and tells us about his grandmother Candida who was a serious reader all her life. Her house was full of books but one day she told him to take all the books away because she was having lots of trouble wth her eye sight and asked him to get him one last book which she wanted to memorize.  She was rapidly becoming blind.

Tiago had been writing letters to George steiner earlier and he decides to write him the second letter,

to take his suggestion for choosing  that last book for his grandmother whom he loved so much. She wanted to memorize that last book by heart. Then he quotes a great statement by George Steiner, that what we memorize and hold it in our memory become the, "decoration for the house of our interior." Just for that, the slow learning of the sonnet, line- by -line, word- by- word was worth every minute.

Tiago Rodrigues has presented, "By heart" in Portugal, Canda, Spain and France. He has been recently appointed as director of the Avignon Festival In France.

He teaches us Shakespeare while dressed in a pair of comfortable jeans and a T-shirt completely relaxed

because he has inherited the wealth of memorizing the greatest words and sentences ever written by

amazing writers and scholars. He has a gift of a superb charmer with the immaculate knowledge of

 literature. I throughly enjoyed this amazing show.

Bina Sharif

Editor/publisher: artsinternational.blogspot.com

Member of American Theater Critics Association: ATCA



Wednesday, January 27, 2021

2021 ORIGIN Ist IRISH THEATRE FESTIVAL


                                 2021 ORIGIN 1st IRISH THEATRE FESTIVAL (VIRTUAL)

REVIEWED BY BINA SHARIF

This incredible and important Irish festival is back and it's a delight as usual.

With great effort and determination the producers, directors and the talent got

together across the Atlantic and did what they do best.

 They brought us the festival on line, lucky for us who always look forward for

it's arrival every January.

The festival has six productions of new work from well known companies on either side of 

the Atlantic. There are six films and documentaries plus panels on various topics such as

productions during the Pandemic and diversity.

The opening night play is EVA O'CONNOR'S award winning one woman show MUSTARD

produced by Fishamble in Dublin.

"MUSTARD"

                   Eva O'Connor in "Mustard"

WRITTEN AND PERFORMED BY EVE O' CONNOR

Eve is an award winning playwright and performer who brought her, "MAZ &BRICKS"

another one woman play in 2020 Origin Ist and had won an award in Edinburgh Fringe.

Eve is a very powerful actress with great control over her delivery and strong presence.

In her play Mustard, the character's name is also Eve and she is going through difficult times

 emotionally.

 She is heart broken and devastated about a difficult relationship and Mustard is on her mind.

 Mustard is also present in plenty amount throughout the show.

 But I think it's a metaphore for healing with it's warmth and 

stingging sensation. Eve tells us that Mustard is the only British export to Ireland and she

happened to be in love with a rich British guy who was very much in love with cycling rather than with

 her. He abruptly ends the relationship and she takes it to heart. She returns to Ireland and starts

 stripping and soaking her body....

with Mustard either to heal or go through more pain of cleaning up.

Her mother thinks that she has gone mad and perhaps she has,  and I felt bad for her because her

boy friend didn't seem worth all that heartbreak. It's a comedy with serious elements of a broken heart

trying desperately to heal with the power of a strong, bright yellow condiment such as Mustard.

She gives a strong performance as usual.


"THE GIFTS YOU GAVE THE DARK"

WRITTEN BY: DARREN MURPHY

DIRECTED BY: CAITRIONA McLAUGHIN

                         Marie Mullen                                          Marty Rea

                                    

                                                      Sean McGinley

Irish Repertory Theatre's digital production.

A heart breaking story of a man in Belfast who himself is sick during the time of Pandemic,

and his mother Rose who is struggling to breath in a different city with her brother Larry who 

 has been taking care of her for many weeks  and asks Tom to at least talk to her since he can't make the

Journey to see his mother for the last time.  And he does. He talks to her on line.

Rose, played by Marie Mullen, the most brilliant actress in Ireland,  is just superb.

She gasps for breath and gasps again and it is so painful to watch.  It seems so real, her waiting

for the son, her last moments of remaining life and the wait to hear her son's voice before it's too late.

Tom, played by amazing Marty Rea is told by his uncle Larry,  Sean Mcginley that Rose

is holding on just to be with him.  "Be with her Tom." "Talk to her." "She is holding on just for you."

These simple words have such an impact because Sean says them so poignantly with depth of feelings.

And Tom along with the fits of awful cough and soaking with diseased sweat struggles to laugh

as he describes the road blocks and dark skies of Belfast. There are beutiful lines in Mr Murphy's script

such as, " That beautiful amber light of your eyes." Tom tells his dying mother while he himself is trying

so hard to not fall apart with the onslaught of the imminent sorrow.

This play is brilliantly written, produced and acted by all the actors.

A MUST SEE


        "STAY HOME AND STAY SAFE"

Four short plays commissioned by origin theatre company and written by four Irish playwrights-

Geraldin Aaron, Honor Molloy, Derek Murphy and Ursula Rani Sarma.

All the plays deal with domestic violence which errupted during the Covid -19 Pandemic.

The plays have been self filmed by actors in Dublin and New York.

"ALL THE LAST WEEKEND"

WRITTEN BY: HONOR MOLLOY

DIRECTED AND ACTED BY: ANGEL DESAI

                             Angel Desai 

The play takes place during the lockdown of Pandemic and the increase in domestic

 violence. A woman is reciting the sad story of another woman who is her neighbor and

 she often hears her anguished voice and screams after her husband abuse her.

Cops have been coming to that apt long before the Pandemic lockdown.

The upstair neighbor even hears cops exchanging dialogue about this particular couple.

Cop complains about coming back again to the same apt to investigate domestic

 violence.  Female cop asks the abused woman if she has ever lost consciousness?

The husband always blame the wife, oh! she is bipolar, she is messed up, she is disturbed.

Sometime the neighbor sits on a sofa to think about her awful existence, he hits her, pulls

 her hair. We are told. Many times he...lift her up smashes her on the floor,

lifts her up and smash her against the wall again and again. "You want to play dead?" Ok, play dead.  I

 have a gun in my sack." he shouts and shouts at her.

Very disturbing to hear the plight of the victim who is totally trapped in this abusive

 relationship which is exaggerated with the confinement of Covid-19 lockdown

but the seeds of domestic violence against women has been there since ages and

not much has been done to prevent it.

Then the story shifts.  The actress who was reciting the neighbor's story is perhaps now

 telling us about her own story in a surrealistic fashion about her own horrible

 experience.

 While she was taking a nice walk on green street in Soho to get bagels

with her husband/lover, he started to abuse her and hit her and she regrets not leaving him years ago.

  This particular person ends up having a violent death in her own bathroom soaking

 with blood shot by her own husband multiple times. 

.A bit confusing for me but whatever,  these plays are very tragic depiction of domestic

 violence. There are some effective visuals at the end in this particular piece.

Strong writting and performance.

I have always enjoyed Honor Molloy's work.  She is a superb writer. 


"THE ISOLATION OF Mr MOORE"

WRITTEN BY: DEREK MURPHY

DIRECTED BY: BILLY MANGAN

CAST: NIAMH HOPPER AND DAVID SPAIN

David Spain

A completely isolated man named Moore,  (Brilliant David Spain) goes out and buys tons of beans, all

 kinds of beans,

Pinto beans, black beans,  red beans, kidney beans right at the beginning of lockdown.

He has a big tv and he watches episodes of gilmore girls in his quiet apt.  There is silence all around

 him except one afternoon when he hears a knock at his door.  He is totally startled and fearful.

Eventually the knocks continues and then he hears a female voice, (Niamh Hopper) ...

He becomes more paranoid,  He feels someone is trying to hurt him and never opens the door.

The faint voice of the woman continues often with the knocking.  "I hear you breathing Mr Moore."

'I can smell the beans cooking" "Are you alright Mr Moore?" "I am worried about you Mr Moore."

The more he encounter this sound the more frightened he becomes.  Then we hear the woman talking

 about her husband, Mylo and his aggressive behavior. He still doesn't respond, till it's too late.

One day Mylo smashes her against the wall couple of times and thats the end.

Actually the lady was seeking help from Mr Moore.  She wasn't safe from her husband and was

 desperate for her life.  After that tragic incident Moore is so frightened that he believes Mylo is 

going to come aftre him.  He starts to put bean cans right outside his door and the next morning they are

 all gone. After a few days he has no beans left. At the start of the show he says, "I have nothing." I have

 absolutely nothing."

I am sure he also feel terrible for not helping his lady neighbor when she was in trouble. Well, the

 lockdown and Covid-19, a tragedy too immense has changed everything in a frighening way.

David Spain is a wonderful actor,  great presence and even fun to watch under such difficult

 circumstances.  The voice over by Niamh Hopper is also very effective tough some time the words are

 not clear but I enjpyed this show immensely.


BINA SHARIF: Editor/publisher: artsinternational.blogspot.com

binashariff@gmail.com

Cell: 212-260-6207

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Monday, January 18, 2021

UNDER THE RADAR FESTIVAL AT PUBLIC THEATER



 UNDER THE RADAR: PUBLIC THEATER

REVIEW

BY

BINA SHARIF


CAPSULE:

Peter Mark Kendall and Whitney White collaborate on a fascinating cinematic

journey of a part of their lives which covers many aspects of their emotional calm and tensions,

their isolation, desires, intimacy, identity which encompass race and class at a time of many difficult

and intense passages of time.

It covers seasons and passions and seasons pass through like a memory of pain in a beautiful and

poignant song cycle.

We encouner times of violence, loneliness and shock of pandemic, empty streets and protests.

Lonely country roads with fallen leaves of changing seasons.  In a short time the piece which 

have been pre-recorded covers a wast journey of extremely difficult time of this very moment

when many questions have to be asked and answered.

Peter Mark Kendall's character is a white rich man and Whitney White is black.

He is from South Africa but their family has moved to America to avoid the violent and painful

history of South Africa. Present day violence hits hard and it for sure complicate relationships between

the couple of mixed race and class.

They sing, they take longwalks, they drink wine on a swing, they express lots of their personal

feelings but those feeling reflects grave emotions of current events, BLM, Pandemic, violent

protests. It's a very effective way to sing through the mixture of emotions.

Whitney White has a great husky and melodious voice which goes deep into our soul when she sings, 

"Things are not alright." And for sure things are not right.

Capsule is beautiful, sensitive and tender depiction of difficult emotions to say the least.

ESPIRITU:

Espiritu, a production of Teatro Anonimo of Chile is written and directed by Trinidad Gonzalez

who also is an actor in it. Espiritu is a combination of a few different stories taking place on

one night in an unknown city. The three characters in the play seems like facing a crisis in the city

and want to do something about it. They feel they need a purpose to live because their lives are

not to their taste. They are unhappy about consumerism and exploitation but subconsciously

some of them also have a desire of entitlemnt.  In one story a woman is standing in the street

near a car and that little area of the street is lit by the light from above, coming through his window

so he yells at her as if she is occupying his space.  He believes he owns that part of the street.

In another story, a woman wants more than love which her musician boy friend provides her

in plenty but she desires other things, material things such as a car.

The characters plan to have a revolution. They want to trap the evils of the world in a bottle and get rid 

of it but never carry it out. The piece loses momentum at some point but still is worth it.



MOTOWN PROJECT

Stunning Alicia Hall Moran sings with her husky and melodious voice. Songs which combines jazz, 

opera and motown blues and poetics.  Shot in clubs and different locations in different neighborhoods.

Steven Herring and Barrington Lee (Vocals) equally good.

Alicia's presence, her voice and her beauty is hauntingly moving.

Her voice is choking with the desire and longing of love, infatuation, yearning to be together and it

crosses all bounderies of nations, the occeans, color and race. It's a great production and a great 

ensemble together. Thomas Flippen (Guitar) Reggie Washington (Bass)

I would love to see this again live soon when we can all gather without the fear of pandmic.

Congratulations to the Public theater to do this under difficult times.


Bina Sharif: editor/publisher: artsinternational.blogspot.com

email:binashariff@gmail.com

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cell: 212-260-607


Thursday, February 20, 2020

DRACULA AND FRANKENSTEIN AT CSC

 DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN at CSC
Dracula

New adaptations of two great novels of Gothic literature, Dracula by Bram Stoker and Frankenstein by Mary Shelly.
Dracula is being adapted by Kate Hamill and it is not such a scary tale as the original but a melodramatic, comic, witty take of feminist revenge on patriarchy.

Count Dracula (wonderful Mathew Amendt) swagger around in Transylvania in a lavish long white coat sucking people's blood turning them into vampires and his slaves for ever.  He has two beautiful women slaves ready to attack any new victim and here arrives Jonathan Harker (Michael Crane)
a lawyer to make arrangements for his client count Dracula to move away from Transylvania to England to find new victims.
He is quite hapless and is soon seduced by the count.  He has a pregnant wife back home, Mina (powerful Kelly Curran) who is a good friend of Lucy (Jamie Ann Romero) who sadly becomes the new victim of Dracula and Mina is totally at loss of Lucy's new illness.

Kate Hamill herself takes the role of Renfield, a deranged woman who is in a mental institution
and recites poetry, keep announcing the arrival of Dady.  Kate Hamill is excellent and very funny
in her bandaged outfit and battered eye make up.  We eventually find out who the, "Dady" is.
SomehowI found her wait for her Dady hilariously funny and cracked up every time she mentioned it.
Doctor Seward (Mathew Saldivar) who is engaged to Lucy and is in-charge of the institute is at a loss
about Lucy's illness and that's when a Vampire expert cowboy doctor Van Helsing (Jessica Frances Dukes, an amazingly powerful performer) takes over and convinces Mina to take control of her own destiny.  Mina and Dr. Van Helsing will eventually will become a two women team and deal with patriarchal power men have over women for centuries.  She wants Mina to be bold, assertive and convinces her to stand up for herself.

The last part of the play becomes a battle of sexes like fight mimicking an action movie scenario
and we do know who is going to be the winner here.

It's a wonderful production with many familiar laugh lines which takes away from the fear of the horror we came to see. Not very scary at all but totally funny, light and enjoyable.

The costumes by Robert Perdziola are refreshing and beautiful.  The lighting design by Adam Honore
is very effective and the sound by Leon Rothenberg is haunting and creates an atmosphere which can make you shiver in your seat.

I enjoyed the script by Kate Hamill and the direction by Sarna Lapin.  The direction is clean and fluid
on a bare stage.


  FRANKENSTEIN

Tristan Bernays adaption of one of the most famous novel by Mary Shelly is also sharing the bill with Dracula.  Frankenstein, directed by Timothy Douglas and is performed by Rob Morrison who is on his guitar and assume some other roles later on.  Stephanie Berry, a very powerful actress who is blessed with an amazing stage presence plays the doctor Victor Frankenstein who creates the monster and the monster as well.  This double role some times becomes confusing but still doesn't take away from the mesmerizing ability of the actress.


The beginning of the play is like a silent performance piece except some vague sounds of the guitar
when the monster is born and is trying to breath life into herself,  Stephanie Berry tries to move her limbs, tries to take some steps, smells some herbs, eat some berries, picks up a book, tries to learn some words and then eventually with the help of an audience member slowly pronounce the word, "Frankenstein" From then on there is a quick transformation of the character into a poet and a scholar.
That transition is un-nerving.  The creature asks fundamental question from her invisible creator about why was she created in such an image? Eventually the monster becomes violent and goes on a killing spree after she leaves the laboratory.  The play is very serious and has a metaphorical element to it. When people who look different, even scary to the ones who call themselves normal and are totally afraid of the otherness of, "Others" are also born by the same creator, one and only creator for all. But the so called normal beings forget that part completely and that question which is very complex is subtly being raised here.
The question is complex and not very easily answerable. it's like saying, "God created me and god created you and we are both so very different and whose fault is it?  And what should be done about it?"
The play might not be as enjoyable like a comedy but we are not watching a comedy.  We are witnessing something human and horrible at the same time.  Very timely. society is like that and had been for some time.

REVIEWED
By
BINA SHARIF
artsinternational.blogspot.com
binashariff@gmail.com
Cell:212-260-6207
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Monday, February 17, 2020

TU AMARAS AT BARYSHNIKOV ARTS CENTER

"TU AMARAS" at BARYSHNIKOV ARTS CENTER

REVIEW By Bina Sharif

Bonobo, a Theater Ensemble and Baryshnikov Center present "Tu Amaras"

Written by: Pablo Manzi
Set, light, and costume design by: Felipe Olivares and Juan Andres Rivera
Music by: Camilo Catepillan
Produced by: Horacio Perez
Directed by: Andreina and Pablo Manzi

CAST: Gabriel Canas, Carlos Donoso, Paulina Giglio, Guilherme Sepulveda, and Gabriel Urzua

Bonobo is a Chilean theater company founded by Pablo Manzi and Andreina Olivari.
Their goal is to create plays which deal with the discrimination of ,"Otherness"
They create their work collectively and their approach is experimental with emphasis on improvisation. Their subject matter is often very serious but has incredible humor in it and all of that is in their new work TU AMARAS.

A group of medical doctors are getting ready for an international conference trying to explore how to deal with others who are different and at times assume the role of the enemy in modern societies even in today's democratically oriented societies thus creating great animosity and hatred towards others who look different, behave differently and perhaps speak a different language.

These doctors unexpectedly also have to deal with aliens who have landed on earth to avoid genocide
and it disturbs their method of working, their research and their way of presenting their material
at the conference.  They start to explore their own racism and prejudice towards others who might
occupy lower income status or utter an un-pleasant word and thus the excuse for violence, even murder. Doctors tease one of their fellow participant that he looks like a rabbit and the word is repeated so often that it becomes a source of their hilarious amusement. The guy who is being called a rabbit is so enraged that when he hears this sentence again, "You look like a rabbit" by a taxi driver that he ends up murdering him. All these scenarios are created with great humor.
The play is unusual but deals with the most important topic, racism, otherness and prejudice which
is sadly prevalent even now in 21st century. Excellent presentation loaded with hilarity.
Keep an eye out for bonobo.

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