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dots is Everywhere: Meet the Design Triumvirate Devising a New Model

dots (all lower case) was born in 2020 when three scenic artists decided to seek greater agency in their careers. To find it, they joined together to operate as one, a model with little precedent in the theatrical landscape.

In Conversation

Brittain Ashford with Charles Quittner

Known for her wistful voice and originating the role of Sonya on Broadway in Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, Brittain Ashford, the once-front woman for the band Prairie Empire, has released a new album of original music under her own name. A follow-up to 2019’s Drama Club, a collection of musical theatre songs “run through a David Lynch filter,” Trotter (which shares her late father’s surname) sees Ashford looking back at a period just after her Broadway debut. In true Ashfordian form, the crooner of melancholy manages to find strange optimism in the grieving process.

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s The Comeuppance Goes Where Only Fools Dare: The High School Reunion

I have never felt the slightest inclination to go to a high school reunion, but apparently many people do in America, and thus a subgenre of film and theater has been created. The premise is that no matter how miserable high school was or how bad your relationships were, you will return to spend a few intoxicated hours with those special people from long ago. Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s riff on this genre, The Comeuppance at Signature Theatre, showcases his ease with dialogue as he keeps the action going in a continuous gabfest, seamlessly and artfully directed by Eric Ting, at the pre-party leading up to the reunion.

At Paper Mill, Rent Honors a Lost Generation and City

Since Rent’s 1996 Broadway debut, Michael Greif’s gritty-polished production has been mimicked in high schools, community theaters, and regional houses across the country. At Paper Mill Playhouse, Zi Alikhan’s rendition immediately distinguishes itself. Yes, there are still baggy sweaters and colorful folding chairs, but as a production this Rent is as much elegy as it is musical.

Check into Grief Hotel: Wading through Woe with Liza Birkenmeier’s Latest

Grief Hotel, commissioned by Clubbed Thumb, is a black comedy. It’s also a container for all the ways in which no one knows how to carry sorrow. And it’s—for the multiple relationships depicted within—a liminality, that sneaky moment when no one’s sure whether the tide is coming in or going out.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2023

All Issues