The Gamm Theatre

Gamm Theatre

Pawtucket's Gamm Theatre is closing its season with one of William Shakespeare's most difficult to do plays.

Peter Goldberg / Gamm Theatre

Pawtucket's Gamm Theatre is currently doing the Irish play “A Skull in Connemara.” It's a work infrequently done, certainly not as often as playwright Martin McDonagh's best, “The Beauty Queen of Leenane.” Bill Gale thinks he knows the reason why.

Gamm Theatre

A new production at The Gamm Theatre in Pawtucket explores the theme of police violence in minority communities. The play is called “The Rant,” and it was written by Brown graduate Andrew Case. He wrote the play in 2008, but it deals with an issue that has generated continued public debate and discussion, particularly over the past year. Rhode Island Public Radio’s Chuck Hinman talked to Andrew Case about the play, its genesis and continuing relevance.

Peter Goldberg / The Gamm Theatre

Written by artistic director Tony Estrella, from the award-winning novel by British expatriate Barry Unsworth, “Morality Play” sweeps through a raucous, roiling time of murder and madness, of corruption, of just plain hard times.  It's a tidal wave of provocation and problems. Change is good? Sometimes. And sometimes it's not.

Peter Goldberg / The Gamm Theatre

That's it. Last time out, you may remember, the Gamm did “Grounded,” a high altitude look at an American female fighter pilot that was quick and memorable.

This time artistic director Tony Estrella and his crew have moved to Norway for a dog fight with one of the great, groundbreaking plays of all time, Henrik Ibsen's “Hedda  Gabler.”

Peter Goldberg / The Gamm Theatre

Yes, “Blackbird,” by Scottish author David Harrower, is a toughie. There’s no way around but to say that it focuses intimately, deeply on child molestation. It considers who was involved. It asks if whether both of its main characters – a middle aged man and a 12-year-old girl -- did not each suffer greatly. And, most tellingly, it offers no solutions.

Peter Goldberg

Well, that’s right. Filled with shouting, drumming and blood, blood, blood, this Macbeth is a fearsome production. Director Fred Sullivan Jr. has missed no chance to put a point right under your nose, and into your ears.  Drums pound, soldiers shout and women weep.

Peter Goldberg / The Gamm Theatre

In an interview concerning the New York production of “The Big Meal” the 33- year-old author, Dan LeFranc, makes a point of saying that his own growing up saw, quote, “lots of support but also a ton of friction and fear.”  And that was “critical in making me the kind of writer and person I am today,” he added.

Well, that would be a guy who has sharp instincts both for the jugular and the heart. “The Big Meal” checks out those eight folks in all kinds of ways.

Peter Goldberg

Well, I don’t want to go overboard here. But “Good People” is just nothing less than a sizzling comedy with a real life message. It’s delicious, deep, delightful, and just plain dandy.

Directed with fire and feeling by Rachel Walshe, the production will have you laughing out loud and holding your breath as the characters reveal themselves.

Led by a splendid Janine Kane, the acting is as good as you’re liable to see anywhere. The sets and the goofy, great costumes add a lot, too.

Credit Peter Goldberg / The Gamm TheatreCasey Seymour Kim and Alexander Platt in "Far Away" by Caryl Churchill, directed by Tony Estrella.Edit | Remove

For decades, English playwright Caryl Churchill has been accorded Goddess stature in the upper reaches of play writing circles. Fiercely political, strongly on the left, Churchill made her mark with plays of attitude and insight.

Steven Richard Photography / Theatre by the Sea

Okay, full disclosure. I have a major soft spot for “La Cage.” Ever since I was one of the many who stood and cheered at the end of the 1983 pre-Broadway tryout at Boston’s Colonial Theatre I’ve wanted “La Cage” to succeed wherever it plays.

And it’s not just the crisp score by Jerry Herman or the pungent humor of Harvey Fierstein’s lyrics. It is truly the message of becoming a decent human being and knowing who you are, and why, that’s allowed me to love “La Cage” over the years.

Peter Goldberg / The Gamm Theatre

Watching the Gamm’s splendid, perfectly sharp, gloriously acted production of “Beauty Queen” was, for me at least, a trip down two very different roads. On one hand, I kept thinking of the legions of travel advertisements we’ve all seen. Ahh, the green of Ireland, the rolling hills, the charming little towns, the friendly pubs. Where have you gone Rick Steves?

Peter Goldberg

Oh my goodness, folks, those wacky Brits are back. They arrived Monday night in a slippery snowstorm using as their invasion vehicle the much anticipated, and much hyped, “Anne Boleyn” by veteran troublemaking playwright Howard Brenton. You will remember his work if you caught the deliciously provocative play “Paul” which celebrated the life of St. Paul at the Gamm a while ago.