Seat Filler: NYC Theater Guide for March 2010
BY Brandon Voss
March 29 2010 1:10 PM ET
There’s literally and figuratively a big lace doily encircling the stage of the Circle in the Square Theatre, cozy home of Broadway’s first revival of The Miracle Worker through April 4. But the dust on William Gibson’s biographical 1959 drama, which celebrates Annie Sullivan’s breakthrough communication with deaf-blind student Helen Keller, is kicked up by stars Abigail Breslin and Alison Pill: Oscar-nominated for Little Miss Sunshine, Breslin is fiercely committed to the grunting and flailing Helen, and Pill, who played activist Anne Kronenberg in Milk, is simply miraculous as Helen’s saucy savior. I’m not saying director Kate Whoriskey should’ve somehow foreshadowed the pair’s rumored lesbian relationship or anything, but I wish she’d given the tearjerker a fresher polish for its 50th anniversary production other than furniture that drops in and out on wires.
If you’re not familiar with the work of British drag queen Bette Bourne, think Quentin Crisp without the controversial AIDS comments. Mark Ravenhill, the charming British gay playwright best known for Shopping and Fucking, once interviewed Bourne in the iconic performer’s Notting Hill home about his awe-inspiring life as a seminal gay rights activist and founder of the Bloolips, a groundbreaking satirical drag troupe. Luckily, those candid conversations were recorded and recreated for A Life in Three Acts, a London and Edinburgh hit that wrapped its U.S. premiere at Brooklyn’s St. Ann’s Warehouse on March 28. Illustrated by projections of archival and personal images from Bourne’s days in a drag commune and as a key figure in the Gay Liberation Front, it’s riveting stuff, and Bourne has you hanging on his every syllable like a silk chemise.