The Shaw crank redemption: Critics enter the thespian arena in Androcles and the Lion
Wed Jan 5 2011
If you're one of those people who suspects that theater critics are secretly frustrated actors, now is your chance to see us take out our frustrations on the stage. Since 2006, David Staller has been producing and directing Project Shaw at the venerable Players Club: monthly readings of every play by the mind-sharpening George Bernard Shaw. (We wrote this profile of Staller toward the start of the series.) These events usually feature major-league actors, but in 2007, for Shaw's Androcles and the Lion—an Aesopian fable that the beard-stroking scribe moved to ancient Rome—Staller assembled a cast of critics and theater journalists. And now that the series has circled back to Androcles on its second tour of the Shavian oeuvre, Staller will repeat his stunt on Monday, January 24.
"Before becoming a playwright, Shaw was a well-known music and theater critic and reporter of the arts scene who occasionally took roles in his own plays," Staller explained in an e-mail to the ensemble today. "Since the Project Shaw readings are not open to reviews, each performance has featured at least one critic or arts journalist as host, narrator or actor. So just for the fun of it, this performance will feature an 'all-critic' cast."
Androcles and the Lion 2.0 will feature many of the same people who participated in the original 2007 reading, but with the parts switched around. Michael Schulman of The New Yorker will play the ingenuous Androcles; The Village Voice's Michael Musto will take the mane role, with New York Post malice master Michael Riedel as a slave-driving centurion. Representing Time Out will be the fearless David Cote—as a handsome captain who sparks up a Roman romance with a spunky Christian prisoner (played by his NY1 colleague Roma Torre)—and Raven Snook, who will reprise her role as Androcles' shrewish wife. Also on the cast list so far: Elisabeth Vincentelli, Michael Feingold, Joe Dziemianowicz, David Finkle, David Sheward, Patrick Pacheco, Jesse Oxfeld, Frank DiLella, Andy Propst, David Belcher, Brian Scott Lipton, Peter Filichia and Jason Zinoman.
As for me: I was lucky enough to participate in ten editions of Project Shaw before chronic vocal-cord troubles got in the way. But I am happy to say that after a two-year absence (and 11 laryngeal surgeries), my voice is back in business, so Androcles and the Lion will mark my long-unawaited return to the Players platform. I will be playing the role of Spintho: a dissolute coward who seeks a free pass to heaven via Christian martyrdom, and who was played in 2007 by the aforementioned Michael Riedel. It's a tasty little part, and I hope to do it justice—though I doubt I can compete with Riedel when it comes to delighting a crowd with the news of my death!
Buy your $25 tickets here, while they last, to judge the judges as we venture onstage, a pack of Daniels in the lion's den.