Thursday, March 20, 2014

Theater Review: ‘Ode to Joy’

By | March 18, 2014 at The Epoch Times.

NEW YORK—Kudos to actress Kathryn Erbe for bringing to life one of the most unlikable, annoying, and memorable stage characters in recent memory. Her performance makes playwright Craig Lucas’s latest work, Ode to Joy, worth watching.
The play, presented by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, offers an intense look at one woman’s self-destructive journey, though Lucas never seems to be sure whether the journey should be comic, dramatic, or something in between.

Taking place via flashback and spanning a 15-year period, the story begins with Adele (Erbe), who’s reeling from a messy breakup, running into Bill (Arliss Howard) in a New York City bar. As the evening progresses, the two bond over an unmistakable chemistry, helped along with a liberal intake of alcohol and a bit of Ecstasy—the latter courtesy of Bill.
Over the next few hours, the two adopt a puppy, Bill asks Adele’s father for her hand in marriage, and Bill and Adele severely injure themselves, thanks to several drunken encounters with broken glass.

Not only is Adele a drug- and alcohol-abuser, she’s also a habitual liar, and the only time she works on keeping sober is when she immerses herself in a relationship with another person—at least in the beginning.
A case in point is Mala (Roxanna Hope), who Adele is getting over when the play begins. Adele had taken care of Mala during her illness and subsequent heart surgery. That is, until Adele’s substance abuse binges resurfaced and became more important than anything else.
Even much later, when Adele becomes a member of AA and tries to make amends for past mistakes, she’s still unable to come clean about what she’s done. Rather, she’s always trying to shade her apologies with explanations, excuses, and blame deflection.

Lucas presents an interesting scenario, but his script never fully explores the possibilities, leaving one somewhat adrift as the scenes and years keeping changing without establishing an emotional link to the various characters.
More telling, we’re never shown just how or why these people face their respective demons. Instead, the tale leapfrogs over key incidents and fills in the blanks with quick explanations.

This weakness also translates to a chronic characterization problem. Adele, for example, isn’t given enough of a back story to make one really care about her. Knowing what made her an addict in the first place would certainly have made the character more interesting and if not more sympathetic, at least more understandable.
Bill is certainly an unpleasant fellow, at least initially, having his own struggles with addiction. Yet because we only see him through Adele’s eyes, we never get to understand who he is on his own.
While Mala’s condition definitely arouses sympathy, all we know about her is that she’s rather paranoid about the Y2K millennium bug and has a strained relationship with her family. Indeed, of the three characters in the story, she’s actually the least developed.
Mala is also more than a little arrogant at times, but then again so are Adele and Bill, leaving no one to really root for as the play progresses.

As mentioned above, Erbe does a great job with her role, making the rather messed-up Adele alternatively quite attractive and an object of scorn and pity. In fact, one can’t help but hope both Bill and Mala get as far away from Adele as possible.
Howard is fine as Bill, probably the one character who changes the most over the course of the story. It also helps that Howard and Erbe have excellent chemistry together, be their situation intimate, comedic, or hostile.
Hope is okay as Mala, though her first meeting with Adele comes off as stilted and not that believable.
Lucas also serves as the director here, and while his efforts enable the scenes to move along nicely, he’s unable to make the entire effort rise above the problems in the script. One also wonders why Adele tells the audience that they’re beginning the final scene of the play—a narrative point unnecessary to announce.

Andrew Boyce’s sets of the various locations are fine, and Paul Whitaker’s lighting nicely helps to establish the different moods presented. Costumes by Catherine Zuber work well.

A tale with potential, Ode to Joy doesn’t come together as it should; the playwright never really brings the “why” of the characters to the forefront of the story.

Ode to Joy
Cherry Lane Theatre
38 Commerce Street
Tickets: 866-811-4111 or visit
Running Time: 2 hours
Closes: April 19

Judd Hollander is the New York correspondent for the London publication The Stage.

One more:

Lucas Tackles Addiction in ODE TO JOY by Michael Dale

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Many Kensho at the Bedfellow News

First of all, please go to and vote for Brad Raider's independent project. 
The winning filmmaker will receive a digital distribution consultation from SnagFilms and will become a candidate for Project of the Month. That winner will be awarded with a creative consultation from the fine folks at the Tribeca Film Institute!
Voting will end Monday March 17 at 5PM EST.

Project of the Day: 'Kensho at the Bedfellow'

Here's your daily dose of an indie film in progress; at the end of the week, you'll have the chance to vote for your favorite.

In the meantime: Is this a movie you’d want to see? Tell us in the comments.

Tweetable Logline: KENSHO AT THE BEDFELLOW is a film about a guy in New York City searching for freedom and fulfillment in all the wrong places.

Elevator Pitch: Dan is 33 and trapped by almost everything. Reeling from the death of his sister, Dan’s nihilism has smothered his passion as a playwright as his mindless consumption pushes him towards the edge.

A glimmer of hope emerges when he's reunited with Kate (a beautiful but troubled childhood friend), yet his desperate search for freedom continues to submerge him into an odyssey of self-destruction.

What he ultimately finds in his darkest hour, however, is illumination beyond his wildest comprehension. But can he fully metabolize his experience? Does he deserve it? And how is it relevant to the world ... ?

Our intention as filmmakers is to make not only a fiercely entertaining story, but also a transformative film that has the potential to enliven the awareness of viewers. We recognize the potential of cinema to uplift, inspire, and catalyze a profound examination of our human experience so that going to the movies becomes a consciousness-expanding event.

Current Status: Having completed principal photography, we're currently fund-raising for post-production and pick-ups.

For more information and to support this project: Indiegogo Page

There are also 28 more days left to crowd fund Kensho at the Bedfellow at Indigogo.

KENSHO AT THE BEDFELLOW is a dramatic, often funny, and sometimes gritty narrative about a guy in New York City searching for freedom and fulfillment in all the wrong places.  Having completed principal photography, we're raising finishing funds for post-production:
  • Editing
  • Music
  • Sound Mix
  • Color Correction
  • Visual Effects ... and more. 
We shot the film in 25 days in 30 locations all over Manhattan with a cast of 50 actors and 30 crew members and are now entering the last phase of our epic journey.  Your support will get us past the finish line and get the film out into the world.

You can spend money between US$ 5  - 10.000

Thursday, March 13, 2014

TV_Universe pimping

Round three of tv_universe is over and we already felt into SEASON FOUR. There will be again amazing writing and artwork challenges with TV Shows++ as main topic. Please join (Team Dish) and let's have fun. [tell the lovely mods that I send you]

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ode to Joy Extension

The acclaimed off-Broadway production of Ode to Joy, starring Tony nominee Kathryn Erbe, will extend through April 19 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. The show had previously been scheduled to end its run on March 30.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ode to Joy - Opening Night

Look who also attended the opening night.

Fore a hole bunch of photos check the following links:

I also added two more reviews at the post of yesterday.