Reviews

“I GET A KICK OUT OF HUGHES”

—Headline, New Haven Advocate

“I’ve seen quite a few things Hughes has directed, and have come to count on him for snappy pacing and a quick comic sense.”

—Feature article, New Haven Advocate

Praise for The Bald Soprano at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater

Jonathan Fielding has at Amanda Collins in The Bald Soprano at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater

Jonathan Fielding has at Amanda Collins

“Eugene Ionesco’s play… now at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater’s original Harbor Stage, at first seems so familiar that you may find yourself wondering why you needed to see it again. But the freshness and insouciance of Brendan Hughes’s production – along with the crisp, deeply funny performances he elicits from an excellent cast – soon come to make it feel irresistible, darkly hilarious, and strikingly new. This is not your grandfather’s Bald Soprano.

“…what’s nightmarish in life is hilarious onstage. The scene in which the four of them sit anxiously on opposite sofas, smiling blankly and starting to speak, then pausing, then casting “meaningful” glances at one another, is pure comic torture. It’s the worst dinner party you’ve ever been to, magnified to the point of hysterical laughter.

“…But the genius moment of the production is one that it would be unfair to describe, because it comes as a quick, perfect surprise near the end. It’s like an encapsulation of the entire production in one brilliantly realized moment: clever, amusing, and then unexpectedly something more, a magician’s jerking of the tablecloth that rearranges all the elements of comedy into a chilling glimpse of the existential void.

“Just a glimpse, though. And then the silliness bubbles back up, and the balance is intact. We’re reminded, as in the jokes of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot or the black humor of Pinter’s Birthday Party, what absurdism really is: a precarious, hilarious, heartbreaking unicycle ride along the edge of a cliff.”

— Louise Kennedy for the Boston Globe (full review)

“Director Brendan Hughes has done it again. In his second season at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater’s Harbor Stage, Hughes has crafted a flawless production of the Absurdist playwright Eugene Ionesco’s first play, The Bald Soprano. Visually stunning and masterfully acted, this show is truly great theater… Ionesco’s work is Absurdism for Absurdists, and it is stuffed with non-sequiturs, verbal nonsense, and distortions of time and space that would make Dali red with envy.

“The show is funny, strange, surreal and haunting. The cadence, rhythm and emotion of normal conversation are all there. If you were to fall asleep in another room, the murmuring chatter would have all the peaks and pauses, the crescendos and quiet moments of an average gathering. But a closer listen would reveal a fractured interaction in which the simplest expectations of language, setting and time are irrevocably twisted and torn apart.

“WHAT’s talented cast makes assimilation easy, and within an hour audience members are exchanging knowing looks at the faintest smirks onstage… Hughes pulls together a neat, tight production that is perfectly funny and strange. If a walk on the weird side is what you crave, WHAT’s got just what the doctor ordered.”

— Bethany Gibbons for the Barnstable Patriot (full review)

“Just laugh and let go, and you will get a kick out of Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater’s splendid production of this classic Theatre of the Absurd play, which Brendan Hughes vibrantly directs with pizazz and delightful innovative touches…

“Hughes directs a superb cast of actors who raise the ridiculous to Marx-Brothers-style comedy…

“Director Hughes takes on the role of the Fire Chief and you’ll love his straight-faced rendering of a convoluted — and meaningless — story.

These are superb performances, and director Hughes cleverly brings it all together in a sparkling “Bald Soprano,” which truly sings.”

— Debbie Forman for the Cape Cod Times (full review)

Praise for Laughing Wild at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater

Brenda Withers in Laughing Wild

Jonathan Fielding as the Infant of Prague

“On the heels of his impeccable presentation of Ionesco’s Bald Soprano, Brendan Hughes is back for more with Christopher Durang’s Laughing Wild at WHAT’s Harbor Stage. Hughes and his small stable of powerful actors have whipped up another little masterpiece, crafting fascinating theater that you will not see anywhere else.”

– The Barnstable Patriot (full review)

“…Brendan Hughes brings spectacular direction to a play that is long in moments of catharsis and revelation even while short in sequence of beginning, middle and end.”

—Provincetown Banner (full review)

“…Laughing Wild brings the audience to the point where laughter and sadness meet. WHAT’s fabulous production takes you on a roller coaster of emotions and does not let you let go until the final curtain call.”

—Cape Cod Chronicle (full review)

Praise for Shortstack at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater

Stacy Fischer lets Jonathan Fielding know, <br>as Brenda Withers and Amanda Collins.

Stacy Fischer lets Jonathan Fielding know, as Brenda Withers and Amanda Collins look on.

“If Salvador Dali were to write for Saturday Night Live, we might get close to describing what Shortstack looks like, but we’d still have to mix in some French existentialism and Japanese game show. Finally, we have a show that lives up to its description as “hilarious.” WHAT has assembled a company of actors that will work under the direction of “impresario” Brendan Hughes to deliver theater at the Harbor Stage through the summer. If Shortstack is an indication of what’s to come, there should be some seriously excellent theater in store for local fans. With the incendiary Robert Kropf on the roster, one could expect to see fireworks on stage, and this Fourth of July weekend did not disappoint. The surprise stars here, however, are Brendan Hughes and his company. Working with Jones’ wild script of six short skits, Hughes pulls together a tight team and directs a veritable tango of inventive props and choreographed scene changes. His attention to detail elevates the show from wacky experimental sketches to a smoothly professional visual thrill.”

—The Barnstable Patriot

“But there’s no denying that [Rolin] Jones has an unusual and inventive theatrical mind. So as long as Hughes wants to stage him at WHAT (where, by the way, Hughes is the “impresario” of the whole Harbor Stage season, directing [Stacy] Fischer, [Brenda] Withers, and the equally talented Jonathan Fielding and Robert Kropf in every play), I’ll keep coming back for more.”

—The Boston Globe

Praise for The Mistakes Madeline Made at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater

“The plot may sound like heavy sledding, and potentially gross to boot, but the script is witty and ultimately touching. It’s a perfect match for the multitudinous talents of WHAT’s fledgling summer repertory company. “Mistakes” plays as if written to order for these bold young performers.”

—The Boston Globe

“Director Brendan Hughes has pulled his outrageously talented troupe together to present a show that must not be missed. No one knows where Hughes or any of his team of four actors will be next summer, but for now they are coalescing on the Wellfleet stage into an ever-tighter theatrical powerhouse that any savvy theater lover would be crazy to ignore. Hughes is two for two in his line-up of three shows at WHAT’s Harbor Theater this summer, and if his next production is anywhere near as good as the first two, he is a shoe-in for the theatrical version of a grand slam.”

—The Barnstable Patriot

Praise for Sexual Perversity in Chicago at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater

“With rapid-fire dialogue and quick-shifting scenes, “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” thrusts the audience into the heart of the sexual revolution of the 1970s. David Mamet’s one-act play, first produced in 1974, is the raucous and raunchy final production of the season at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater.”

—Cape Cod Times

Praise for The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater

“It’s getting a terrific production at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, under the savvy, snappy direction of Brendan Hughes (Jones’s classmate at the Yale School of Drama). Hughes steers a strong cast through the play’s hairpin turns of tone and dizzying eddies of verbal complexity with ease and grace. One minute we’re laughing at some outrageous line or sight gag, the next we’re pierced with sorrow and compassion.”

—Boston Globe

Praise for The Drawer Boy at American Stage in St. Petersburg, Florida

“From the moment the play started until its final startling conclusion, you could have heard a pin drop in the American Stage theater, so enthralling was the story and so riveting were the performances…[THE DRAWER BOY] held the Wednesday night preview audience in the palm of their collective hand…The three actors are, in a word, marvelous…[Joe Parra’s] performance is one of the most compelling this writer has ever seen grace a local stage…confirms the power of theater and story-telling to transform and elevate the human condition…[THE DRAWER BOY] will be a hard act to follow as [American Stage’s] season progresses. They have set the bar wonderfully high, right from the get-go.”

—Tampa Tribune

“A wonderfully realized production at American Stage…hilarious and beautiful…lovely…evocative… a treatise about the joys and obligations of deep friendship…[Joe Parra] is sensational…[Steve Pachosa is] just as impressive…director Brendan Hughes shows a deft touch with the comic moments, which are plentiful and formidable.”

—St. Petersburg Times

“Enchanting and moving…strong and compelling performances from the three cast members…a story well worth hearing.”

—Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Praise for My Heart Split in Two with Lucid Theatre in New York City

“Maybe the next generation of theatre.”

—Variety

My Heart Split In Two is a radio play that still pulls off all the comic intricacies of a traditional play, except the audience gets to see the brilliant cast giggle behind the glass. And as a radio production, playwright Terry Withers and director Brendan Hughes add and remove tension and laughs freely, using the proper old time sound effects and playful narration. It’s ridiculous comedy at its best, leaving the audience to its own imagination while continuously pushing the limits of reason.”

—Show Business Weekly

“Director Brendan Hughes has skillfully woven together a brilliant cast, edgy material and an innovative idea, culminating in a mind-boggling theatrical and listening adventure.”

—nytheatre.com

Praise for Gagarin Way with the Sugan

The Gagarin Way cast says that Hughes’s blend of intellect, compassion, and love of laughter is what makes him so special as a director. They credit him with creating a supportive rehearsal environment, one in which risk-taking is encouraged, while also making everybody laugh so much that the rehearsal process doesn’t feel like work. ‘With Brendan, the work stays really fresh during rehearsals, so the play keeps its spark going into opening night,’ says the Welsh-born actor and Cape Cod resident Dafydd Rees, who plays the kidnapping victim in Gagarin Way.”

—Feature article, Boston Herald

“hilarious… Gagarin Way packs a punch.  But the blow is tempered by Gregory Burke’s wide-ranging and wicked sense of humor… crackles with foreboding even as it sparkles with wit”

—Terry Byrne, Boston Herald

“The Pythonesque laughs keep coming in this startling Súgán production but so does the Pinteresque menace. There are bits of Joe Orton as well”

—Ed Siegel, Boston Globe

“I can’t remember the last time I laughed as hard … Gagarin Way is brutal, dark and hilarious”

—Nick Dussault, Metro Boston

“funny… Burke has a way of combining blundering and menace, violent shorthand and intellectual pretension, that makes for absurdist comedy”

—Carolyn Clay, Boston Phoenix

“..dances along the thin line of entertainment and horror in a very well-acted production of a riveting play about using political radicalism as an excuse for mindless violence… what makes Gagarin Way compelling is the antic absurdity of Burke’s dialogue”

—Bill Marx, WBUR

“once in awhile a gifted new playwright shakes up the theater by launching a work of jolting force… explosively compelling”

—Jules Becker, South End News

“gut-wrenching comedy…a wild 90 minute ride, full of Pythonesque laughter until the reality of the situation turns ghastly”

—Will Stackman, Aisle Say

“You won’t find a better play in town or better acting”

—Beverly Creasey, Theater Mirror

“impressive”

—Carl Rossi, TheaterMirror

Praise for You’ve Never Done Anything Unforgivable at Fringe NYC 2004

“In the wrong hands, the material could feel like watching the recording of an audiobook. But [Hughes] repeatedly finds the subtle sound cue or the telling downward glance that nudges the story into theatrical life.”

—broadway.com

“Throughout one feels Hughes’ directorial presence as the stories modulate and build to their conclusions with questionable redemptions. … ‘Never Done’ proved to be a darkly satisfying piece of theater.”

—Andy Propst, American Theater Web

Praise for The Art Room at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater

“There are puns, double entendres, slapstick, and ironies within this fast-paced production. Lots of slamming doors and hiding in closets require split second timing which this cast, under the expert direction of Brendan Hughes accomplishes beautifully. “

—Cape Cod Chronicle

Praise for The Night of the Iguana at the Theatre Cooperative

“Brendan Hughes’s direction finds dark humor in a play that can be as wordy and dated as it is powerful and thought provoking.”

—Boston Globe

Praise for Cafe Society with the Mill6 Collaborative

“The play is highly—and consistently—amusing, often hilarious, and unpredictable… Luckily, Brendan Hughes’s direction supplies what the script lacks, walking a fine line between realism and absurdity. It is also exceedlingly well-paced and never lets the play’s off the wall qualities dominate the dramatic arc.”

—Boston Globe

Praise for Roosters at the Theatre Cooperative

“Like the play, the PHTC production is ballsy and ambitious, with loud live music, risky stage business, and quite a few actors with little or no stage experience. But most of the neophytes make up in cheek and guts what they lack in dramatic finesse, and the sets, lighting and sound are right on the money… This production of Roosters is something to crow about.”

—Boston Phoenix

“Director Brendan Hughes has heeded his script well. His creative staging (he enacts several different fights simultaneously,) and excellent casting create a wel-paced and compelling production of a play that could otherwise turn maudlin and caricature-ish. The move to cast humans in the parts of the roosters is brilliant, and brings to the stage a surprising amount of visceral excitement.”

—South End News

“With few exceptions, director Brendan Hughes manages to turn the Peabody House into an alternate universe. With spirits emerging from shadows, the language bristling with poetry and bawdy one-liners, in less able hands “Roosters” could have easily turned out to be a pretty silly play.”

—Somerville Journal , on Roosters, at the Theatre Cooperative

Praise for Machinal at the Theatre Cooperative

“Thanks to Hughes’s rhythmic and atmospheric staging, this Machinal holds the Peabody House stage well enough to reveal the surprising facets of a rediscovered gem.”

—Boston Globe

“Under the direction of Brendan Hughes, the Peabody House Theatre Cooperative has mounted a worthy production of the play, long forgotten by everyone except theatre historians… Machinal is well worth a visit. Bravo to the Peabody House Theatre Cooperative for resurrecting a minor treasure of 20th century theater”

—Boston Herald

Praise for Of Mice and Men at the Theatre Cooperative

“Pleasant surprises don’t come along very often for the critic dutifully making the ragged rounds of small local theatres. But when they do, they are bursts of welcome relief…”

“…theatregoers should wish Hughes luck bucking the odds.”

—Boston Globe

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