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& # 39; What constitution means to me & # 39; and Lehman Trilogy & # 39; are two exciting history lessons: reviews



This season's little motorcycle, Heidi Schrecks "What the Constitution Means to Me" was first recorded in 2017 at the Clubbed Thumbs Summerworks Festival and then had a sold out round in the fall at the New York Theater Workshop. Then it is transferred to Broadway's Greenwich House Theater for another sold out round and now it is on Broadway, a seemingly unlikely place for a benign consideration of whether the US Constitution ultimately does more harm than good for women, people in color and other underrepresented people.

I hadn't seen "what the Constitution means to me" earlier, so it can't measure whether this show loses any of its intimacy in a major venue, the 597-seat Hayes Theater. But if the extent of "What the Constitution Means to Me" is small, the emotions are great ̵

1; and after months of performances, this formally complicated show (mostly a monologue, sometimes a game that is occasionally improvised) is now a beautifully oiled machine.

The fraudulent simple premise finds that Schreck tells how she, as a 15-year-old, competed in speech contests on American legion tails all over the country and delivered a speech on the ways in which the Constitution spoke directly to her life. This speech has been lost to history, so Schreck tries to reconstruct it here, though with some very creative detours that find the author / practitioner dig deep into his own life. As the evening unfolds, Schreck realizes that the rights contained in the exalted document leave a staggering number of people unprotected. Should we completely destroy it? Like any proper high school talk book, Schreck has a few ideas about it as well.

A simple set designed by Rachel Hauck to look like an American legion hall; a handful of sound sounds two other performers (Mike Iveson and Thursday Williams alternating with Rosdely Ciprian) whose functions are best kept secret – it is certainly not over-the-top Broadway razzle glare. But during the show's soft 100 minutes "What the Constitution Does For Me", which Oliver Butler expects, she achieves something that Hannah Gatsby did in her widely presented stage show and Netflix special "Nanette." It requires that we reconsider everything we thought we knew – about politics, gender, American history, theater, even monkey sock puppets – from the perspective of a woman's very specific but powerful universal life experience.

  Ben Miles, Simon Russell Beale and Adam Godley star in

Ben Miles, Simon Russell Beale and Adam Godley star in "The Lehman Trilogy" now playing at Park Avenue Armory in New York (Photo by Stephanie Berger)

Quiet, robust and complete enthralling, Stefano Massini "The Lehman Trilogy" is three and a half hours of history of Lehman Brothers investment bank you didn't know you needed. The game was originally written for Italian radio, and the game has been adapted by Ben Power and staged with huge brio and invention of Oscar and Tony winner Sam Mendes ("American Beauty"). I would have happily seen it for three and a half hours more. The limited production – played on the Park Avenue Armory in New York – sold out, except for daily rush tickets, but if it was ever a show that justified the high prices on the secondary market, this is it. Lehmans himself would probably have approved those who bought tickets low and can now sell very high.

The drama unfolds almost exclusively within a rotating glass box against a rear projection screen. The primary props are a pair of sharpies and stacks of office packaging. But this seemingly extraordinary design (by Es Devlin, who worked similar wonders with the "American Psycho" music) suggests volumes leading us from Antebellum Alabama to today's Manhattan, from railroad meetings to stock exchanges, with countless other stops in between. Every time the cube turns, our imagination grows with it.

Even more impressive is that this epic saga is performed by only three actors Simon Russell Beale, Ben Miles and Adam Godley, who collectively earned Olivier nominations for Best Actor for the original scene of this production in London last summer. The men alternately tell the story and play the dozens of characters that populate it. You want to have fun trying to determine which of the three is your favorite – who is able to switch characters more effortlessly, who has greater command over the complex and hypnotic rhythms of Massini and Power & # 39; s languages – Until eventually you will just explain a tie.

The play itself is obedient and moves, daring to use the story of Lehmans as a microcosm for the whole of America's history and of a paradise found, lost, regained and lost again. Perhaps only in America could three brothers emigrate from Germany, open a small fabric store and use this store as the foundation for what would become an inexplicable asset. "The Lehman Trilogy" celebrates this achievement without letting us forget the brutality – the compromises, the back room deals with the subprime mortgage loan – it underlines it. It is a masterpiece.

What the Constitution Means to Me

Hayes Theater

240 West 44th St., New York.

Tickets: $ 49- $ 159; available at www.telecharge.com. Through July 21st.

Lehman Trilogy

Park Avenue Armory

643 Park Ave. New York

Tickets: Sold out, but $ 45 rush tickets and resale tickets are available. For more information, go to http://www.armoryonpark.org. Through April 20,

Christopher Kelly can be reached at ckelly @ njadvancemedia.com . Follow him on Twitter @ chriskelly74 . Find NJ.com/Entertainment on Facebook .


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