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David Finkle
David Finkle is a New York-based writer who concentrates on the arts. He's currently the chief drama critic for and writes regularly on music for The Village Voice and Back Stage. He's contributed to many publications, including The New York Times, The New York Post, The Nation, The New Yorker, New York, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and American Theatre.

Entries by David Finkle

First Nighter: Markus Potter's 'Stalking the Bogeyman,' Ira Lewis's 'Chinese Coffee'

(0) Comments | Posted September 29, 2014 | 8:41 PM

When he was 7 and his family was making new friends after relocating in Anchorage, David Holthouse (Roderick Hill) was raped by Nathan Crawford (Erik Heger), the 17-year-old son of a couple to whose home the Holthouses had been invited for the evening.

Not only did David carry the effects...

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First Nighter: 'You Can't Take It With You' Takes You With It Merrily

(1) Comments | Posted September 28, 2014 | 7:08 PM

On the way into You Can't Take It With You, the revival at the Longacre of the 1936 George S. Kaufman-Moss Hart comedy, I ran into Anne Kaufman Schneider. For those who don't know, Schneider is Kaufman's daughter and the primary keeper (now that Kitty Carlisle Hart is gone) of...

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First Nighter: Peter Brooks' Valley of Astonishment, The Sucker Emcee, The Bullpen

(0) Comments | Posted September 26, 2014 | 4:25 PM

(Peter Brooks' production The Valley of Astonishment has opened at Theatre for a New Audience's Polonsky Shakespeare Center. Here is the review I filed after seeing it at London's Young Vic in June.)

The interest Oliver Sacks takes in the human brain fascinates Peter Brook. The Valley of Astonishment is...

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First Nighter: Ivo van Hove Undoes 'Scenes From a Marriage'

(0) Comments | Posted September 22, 2014 | 11:44 PM

Discounting the rare scare flick, I've only once been tempted to look away from a movie screen--and succumbed to the urge. It was Ingmar Bergman's 1973 Scenes From a Marriage. The psychic pain was too much to take full on.

I had to turn away from what theater's leading deconstruction...

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First Nighter: Neil LaBute's Money Shot Hits the Target

(0) Comments | Posted September 22, 2014 | 9:33 PM

Neil LaBute does it again -- and even farther out. Having often concentrated on the battle between the sexes in his comedies, he now goes literal. No further description here of how he does that, because it's too much fun to watch unfold. Just know that The Money Shot, his...

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First Nighter: 'Uncle Vanya' Misfires in More Ways Than One

(1) Comments | Posted September 21, 2014 | 11:38 PM

During the intermission after the first uneven two acts of the Pearl Theatre Company's Uncle Vanya revival, I remarked to my astonished but extremely tolerant friend that Anton Chekhov's writing shines through no matter what is done to it.

When the production--using Paul Schmidt's somewhat colloquial translation--had ended, I took...

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First Nighter: Two Gentlemen of VeronaOn Screens Big and Bold

(0) Comments | Posted September 20, 2014 | 12:51 PM

Since I hadn't seen a Two Gentlemen of Verona production or reread the William Shakespeare play in awhile, I was totally caught off guard by the many passionate discourses of love with which the young, entangled lovers express themselves. That's as I watched Simon Godwin's invigorating take shown live from...

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First Nighter: A. R. Gurney's "Love Letters," Walter Anderson's "Almost Home"

(0) Comments | Posted September 18, 2014 | 11:28 PM

Is Love Letters A. R Gurney's most lucrative play? No one seems to be quite sure, but it has to be up there among the prolific playwright's biggest money earners. Look, it has a built-in gimmick that encourages actors to want to participate. Since it bowed in 1989, many have.

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First Nighter: George Kelly's Fatal Weakness Not Fatally Weak

(0) Comments | Posted September 15, 2014 | 8:36 PM

In Craig's Wife, George Kelly's 1925 play subsequently filmed twice with Rosalind Russell and then Joan Crawford as the title figure, the woman in the chilling character study is someone so compulsively involved with achieving perfection in a well-appointed home that she's sealed herself off from actual life.

In The...

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First Nighter: Cera, Culkin, Gevinson Distinguish 'This Is Our Youth'

(0) Comments | Posted September 11, 2014 | 11:19 PM

In Kenneth Lonergan's revived 1996 play, This is Our Youth, a Steppenwolf production transferred to the Cort, what specifically does the playwright mean by "this"? Well, he sees the three characters as intelligent twentysomethings, witty, well schooled, privileged (rich Jewish kids, at that) but at the same time drifting, drug...

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First Nighter: 'Bauer' Is Marvelously Artistic About Art

(0) Comments | Posted September 9, 2014 | 9:47 PM

What is it about plays in which two women and a man confront each other, sometimes each against the others, sometimes two joining against the third and then switching alliances?

Jean-Paul Sartre perpetuated its power in No Exit at 59E59 Theatres. (Was there another woman in the Sartre-Simone de Beauvoir...

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First Nighter: Restaurant Play 'My Manana Comes' Is a Tangy Dish

(0) Comments | Posted September 6, 2014 | 12:08 PM

Four busboys are hustling non-stop at Frederick's Madison, an Upper East Side Manhattan restaurant, when Elizabeth Irwin's My Manana Comes -- ultimately an ironic title -- begins with velocity and ferocity in the Playwrights Realm production at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater.

They're Peter (Jason Bowen), Whalid (Brian Quijada), Jorge...

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First Nighter: Musicalized 'Red Eye of Love,' Gurney's 'Wayside Motor Inn' Short of Must-Sees

(0) Comments | Posted September 4, 2014 | 6:55 PM

In the revival of The Wayside Motor Inn, A. R. Gurney's 1977 play, at The Pershing Square Signature Center, Ray (Quincy Dunn-Baker) strides onto set designer Andrew Lieberman's amusing take on a Jimmy Carter-era bad-taste motel room. Ray is agitated. Shortly after that, Frank (Jon DeVries) and Jessie (Lizbeth Mackay)...

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First Nighter: Naomi Wallace's And I and Silence and Not Much

(0) Comments | Posted August 26, 2014 | 11:49 AM

If you tend to think of playwright Naomi Wallace as compulsively pretentious--I do--be advised that And I and Silence, the title of her recent work, now at The Pershing Square Signature Center, won't go a long way toward disabusing you of the notion. It's a quote from Emily Dickinson's poem...

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First Nighter: Ayckbourn's Things We Do for Love Done Lovingly in Westport

(0) Comments | Posted August 25, 2014 | 8:14 PM

Generally, it's not a good idea for playwrights to direct their own work -- or maybe anyone else's, for that matter. One of the few exceptions is Alan Ayckbourn, who almost always directs the first production of anything he writes.

That may be because, as he's said, he thinks of...

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First Nighter: Eric Comstock, Gabrielle Stravelli Light Up Cabaret

(1) Comments | Posted August 21, 2014 | 2:36 PM

Cabaret is alive and not quite yet reduced to gasping for breath in New York City. One of the most recent promising signs is the opening on Second Avenue of Café Noctambulo with piano man Eric Comstock cutting the ribbon on the small, square and just about perfect room at...

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First Nighter: The Visit Overstays Its Welcome, Henry IV Stumbles

(0) Comments | Posted August 19, 2014 | 4:43 PM

THE BERKSHIRES -- This time of year, things are so beehive-hectic in these parts that it's easy to drive around on a single Saturday and see, say, The Visit at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and the compacted-into-one Henry IV Part I and IIat Shakespeare and Company.

Since I've just done...

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First Nighter: Theresa Rebeck's 'Poor Behavior' Just Plain Poor

(0) Comments | Posted August 17, 2014 | 7:35 PM

At the start of Poor Behavior, Theresa Rebeck -- who may be the most overrated contemporary American playwright by virtue of 15 New York City productions to date -- has Ella (Katie Kreisler), who's married to Peter (Jeff Biehl), and Ian (Brian Avers), who's married to Maureen (Heidi Armbruster), going...

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First Nighter: Lengthy-Named Revolution... Musical Not Worth Its Title's Length

(0) Comments | Posted August 13, 2014 | 9:36 PM

Helpful word has reached me about the musical longwindedly called Revolution in the Elbow of Ragnar Agnarsson House Painter, now having its extravagantly baffling world premiere at the Minetta Lane. Apparently, it's the reaction of creator librettist-composer-lyricist Ivar Pall Jonsson (from his story with brother Gunnlaugar Jonsson) to the 2008...

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First Nighter: 'Sex With Strangers' Is Sexy With Straining

(0) Comments | Posted July 30, 2014 | 9:04 PM

Olivia (Anna Gunn), who's pushing 40, and 28-year-old Ethan (Billy Magnussen) meet kinda-sorta cute. On a dark and stormy night, she's already ensconced in the comfy lobby of an upper Michigan bed-and-breakfast when he arrives later than the now-absent proprietress expected him.

For the first few minutes, he's cheerfully...

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