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David Finkle
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David Finkle is a New York-based writer who concentrates on the arts. He's currently the chief drama critic for TheaterMania.com 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: 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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First Nighter: Sturges' Strictly Dishonorable, Quinton in Drop Dead Perfect

(0) Comments | Posted July 28, 2014 | 8:42 PM

Before he began writing as well as directing his celebrated movies, Preston Sturges uncorked Strictly Dishonorable, a hit Broadway show. It was such a click that although it opened a little more than a month before the October 1929 stock market crash, it ran until January 1931.

It's easy to...

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First Nighter: 'Piece of My Heart: The Bert Berns Story' Works Piecemeal

(0) Comments | Posted July 21, 2014 | 10:59 PM

Among the ground-shifting 1960s music and music-biz developments was the emergence of the singer-songwriter. One of the related negative ramifications was the movement's eclipsing the songwriter who didn't sing but only wrote.

Would we know much about Carole King (cf. Beautiful at the Stephen Sondheim) if she hadn't evolved from...

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First Nighter: The Musicals Pump Boys and Dinettes and The Gig

(0) Comments | Posted July 17, 2014 | 5:51 PM

Yes. Absolutely. No question. If you can get to City Center anytime through this weekend to see Pump Boys and Dinettes, which is the third and last of Encores! Off-Center summer series, go. It's way too entertaining to pass up.

All you need to know before hurrying out to get...

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First Nighter: Robert Boswell's The Long Shrift, John Banville's Love in the Wars

(0) Comments | Posted July 14, 2014 | 7:32 PM

The last 10 minutes or so of Robert Boswell's play The Long Shrift, at the Rattlestick, are richly dramatic. During them Richard (Scott Haze) and Beth (Ahna O'Reilly) finally get to the confrontation towards which some extremely tense events have been leading.

Classmates at Seattle's Lancaster High School, Richard and...

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First Nighter: Musicals "Atomic," "The Mapmaker's Opera," "ValueVille"

(0) Comments | Posted July 13, 2014 | 9:06 PM

Atomic, at the Acorn, is the show that asks the musical question: Once the A-bomb was realized, was it wise to use it? Coming up with an answer requires a great deal of serious thought, which is what librettist-lyricists Danny Ginges and Gregory Bonsignore and composer-lyricist Philip Foxman give it....

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First Nighter: 'Henry IV Part I' and 'Henry IV Part II' on Screen With Antony Sher

(0) Comments | Posted July 5, 2014 | 10:14 AM

William Shakespeare historians have tried and failed to find a figure during the reigns of Henry IV and Henry V who might have been the inspiration for Sir John Falstaff, whom many of the playwright's advocates consider the preeminent Shakespeare character.

Appearing in both Henry IV plays and again in...

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First Nighter: Mantel's Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, Brook's Valley of Astonishment in London

(0) Comments | Posted June 27, 2014 | 12:17 PM

Although it may be that most men would prefer their first-born to be a boy, is there any man in history more intent on having a son than Henry VIII, known to intimates (such as they are) as Harry?

Hilary Mantel persuasively presents the case for his preeminence at this...

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First Nighter: 'Skylight,' 'The Pajama Game' Revived, 'Adler & Gibb' New in London

(0) Comments | Posted June 24, 2014 | 4:11 AM

LONDON -- When Tom Sergeant (Bill Nighy) drops in on Kyra Hollis (Carey Mulligan) totally unannounced in the revival of David Hare's 1995 play Skylight, at Wyndham's, he's clearly there to fan the embers of a six-year affair that ended two years earlier. That's when Tom's dying wife Alice learned...

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First Nighter: "Fathers and Sons," "Khandan [Family]," "Handbagged" in London

(0) Comments | Posted June 16, 2014 | 4:34 AM

LONDON--Ivan Turgenev's 1862 novel Fathers and Sons, which Brian Friel adapted for the stage under the same title in 1987 is just revived at the Donmar Warehouse. In other words, a revered Russian work by way of an Irish playwright is being performed by an English cast enhanced in part...

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First Nighter: 'Titus Andronicus,' 'Antony and Cleopatra' Expand the Globe

(0) Comments | Posted June 14, 2014 | 6:04 AM

Scholars aren't certain when William Shakespeare wrote Titus Andronicus, although they favor 1593. They are more certain that it was considered his first major success. This says something about Elizabethan taste, since the play is such a non-stop blood bath. Whether it's the seminal revenge tragedy isn't clear. They didn't...

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First Nighter: New Musical "Fly By Night" Doesn't Fly, Then Does

(0) Comments | Posted June 12, 2014 | 6:14 AM

Fly By Night, the Will Connolly-Michael Mitnick-Kim Rosenstock (who also conceived the enterprise) musical at Playwrights Horizons starts off cute as can be. Depending on your tolerance for cute-as-can-be musicals, you'll immediately warm to it or almost immediately turn a cold shoulder.

Since I'm among the types almost immediately inclined...

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First Nighter: A Gotta-See Alan Ayckbourn Festival

(0) Comments | Posted June 12, 2014 | 4:12 AM

The big fact about 75-year-old Alan Ayckbourn is that he's written 78--count 'em, 78--plays during his long career, including two, actually three, receiving world premieres these weeks at 59E59 Theaters. It's what you might call an Alan Ayckbourn mini-festival to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his first production.

Looked at...

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First Nighter: Ayckbourn's Small Family Business Large and in HD

(0) Comments | Posted June 11, 2014 | 9:15 AM

Alan Ayckbourn is the chronicler of the middle class. Up in Scarborough, England, where he turns his plays out and puts them on -- or has done for many years -- he looks at people from every angle. He effortlessly gets their foibles and peccadilloes down with accuracy. Depending on...

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