Letter To My Father
In M-34's deliberately bleak and trippy adaptation for the theater-in-quarantine era, Michael Guagno reads the letter from what looks like a subterranean storage room in the bowels of some dreary office building, or an alt-right radio personality's doomsday bunker. .... Delectably creepy. — The New Yorker
Directed by James Rutherford, it's appropriately Kafkaesque — existential, nightmarish, ambivalent, and oddly compelling. .... It's terrifically disturbing.
M-34's Letter To My Father represents a thoughtfully conceived and wonderfully acted example of the innovative forms that virtual theater can take. .... The letter is a torrent whose outpourings are masterfully dramatized by Guagno in all of their depth and variety of emotion. .... You don't have to be a fan of Kafka to enjoy Letter To My Father, just a fan of theatrical innovation supported by an excellent performance. — Thinking Theater NYC
Audience members can easily cast themselves in the position of Analyst or Director, choosing angles to observe a frightened, already objectified male. .... Director James Rutherford brings the audience into a claustrophobic, flea-ridden catastrophe of a room covered with papers, notes, and archival boxes.
When narrator Michael Guagno walks over to a shelf, you know he's reaching in to pull out another memory, yet another trauma safely stored, sadly protected and never forgotten .... James Rutherford's direction nicely varies the camera angles and provides for movement, emphasis, and, especially, periods of quiet. I sat enraptured by the storytelling and frankly amazed what it produced in my own mind. — Broadway World
The new show is fancy and looks sleek, but it is unclear what the staging is trying to convey. — The New York Times
There's a new version of Salomé in town .... James Rutherford’s careful translation and clever casting choices adapt the play for contemporary audiences .... turning an oft-misunderstood and rarely performed Victorian relic into a vital and relevant parable of criminalized otherness. — Hyperallergic
This production is terrific, brilliant! James Rutherford directs with surety and conviction. He knows why Wilde wrote that way and he relishes every lavish image, while keeping his actors moving to counter the verbiage. His characters are in apotheoses of emotion. They’re not insane – they’re possessed.
Rutherford stages a Salomé that's a feast for the eyes .... the large and talented cast handles both the comedic and dramatic scenes with aplomb .... Salomé is a tense journey back into history and legend that is nevertheless forever relevant, reminding us that unchecked desire can lead to ruin, even for the most powerful among us. — Theatre Is Easy
This production has an intense muscularity that makes you feel like you’re a spectator at a gladiatorial fight between the unrequited and the objects of their sexual obsession .... In this production we get caught up in the dance of life, we’re twirling around the circumference like figures in a Matisse artwork –unable to stop the acceleration. The ritual, the blood letting, the sacrifice has begun .... We are invited to watch with Herod’s lustful eyes. Our gaze is directed to the moon, the stars and the cave below –the inner world, the prison. It’s completely enticing as your view keeps shifting. — StageBiz
The idea of gaze, how it works, who is allowed to wield it, and how women are supposed to best graciously receive it, is woven throughout this sultry adaptation of Wilde’s controversial and under-performed biblical adaptation. .... Salomé’s famous dance is a dangerously explosion of fury. Her performance is sexual and sexy (those are two different adjectives) beautiful and ugly, a writhing mass of contradictions. — New York Theatre Review
Rutherford’s admirable translation stays close to the original, giving us Wilde indeed, flaws and all. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a man who remains one of our most fascinating literary personalities more than a century after his death. — BlogCritics
M-34’s production features a new translation by director James Rutherford, whose work is simply remarkable .... It is such attention to transportive detail with which Rutherford threatens to make a major mark on the New York theater scene. — The Theatre Times
Sweat & Tears
SWEAT & TEARS is a playful and prescient investigation of the difficult work of feeling that raises some mind-boggling questions about the nature of gender and theatre. The magic of S&T doesn’t depend on how well the actors fool us with fluids (god forbid). Just the opposite: the hyper-athletic clowns of this circus use physical comedy to debunk gender stereotypes surrounding two alchemical compounds of water and salt. — Culturebot
Sweat & Tears is directed beautifully by Jess Goldschmidt and James Rutherford, their use of space is invigorating, and the arc that they've created between the show's two halves is exciting. The show examines the way we react to the world around us, whether it's by violence or connection, the different ways that men and women process emotions and the uncertainty of the world we live in. It's brilliantly performed and a must for fans of theatre that pushes the boundaries of narrative. It hardly answers any of the existential questions that it poses, but that's the point. It presents you with these findings on the human experience and asks: “Do you recognize yourself here?” And for that, Sweat & Tears deserves to be seen. — New York Theatre Review
Broadly speaking, Sweat & Tears places a binary before the audience and asks us to do some of the interpretive work and question our own adherence to social constructs. The juxtapositions of text to physical display and of one physical display to another leave plenty of room for the viewer to form conclusions regarding what they say about embodied performance and its gendering. .... Together, these halves add up to a work that is imagistic, physically impressive, at some points funny, and at all points challenging. — Culture Catch
All That Dies And Rises
Clearly, All That Dies and Rises takes a decent familiarity with a variety of theater theories and with classic literature to understand and appreciate, and even so it is difficult to talk about a meaning. Still, it feels like a complete piece rather than just a series of theater exercises, a difficult feat in the world of experimental physical theater. It will challenge everything you think you know about theater, but for those up to such a challenge, it is a fascinating work of art. — charged.fm
This production exudes a sense of sheer kinetic power while conveying in clipped words brief snaps of life stories. We fall into the void with them and feel the tension as they reach out, back away, and entwine. Like us, they reach until they find a helping hand, no matter how long and difficult the struggle. Their sheer power is amazing. — Electric Link Journal
Mr. Brook's influence can clearly be seen, but Mr. Rutherford is moving even more deeply into the abstract to get at the essence of meaning. Even when that meaning is sometimes elusive, this is excitingly original experimental work he is engaged in, and it is fascinating to watch as it unfolds. — Talkin’ Broadway
Watching the skillful physical performers in All That Dies and Rises is like getting an education in movement. There are just so many ways to move and Cloud of Fools speaks a different language that is both refreshing and beautiful.
The Importance of Being Ernest Hemingway
At first Elliot B. Quick and James Rutherford's wild theatrical mashup The Importance of being Ernest Hemingway feels like a cheap gag, a flimsy excuse to make outrageously exaggerated acting choices in an hilariously misguided attempt to modernize an old chestnut. But there is something more subversive going on- as the play becomes less Wilde and more Hemingway, new ideas are revealed, revealing a deeper pain more usually masked by the classic comedy.
Said in a gruff, manly voice, Wilde's witticisms seem more like Hemingway’s disconnected musings on war; and Hemingway's short sharp sentences delivered effeminately and whimsically flow perfectly with the witty banter. Much of this has to do with the compilation of the play by Quick and Rutherford, but also the intense, tight acting and direction. — OUT Magazine
This is a play to be admired for its innovation, ambition, its impressive set, and the strong performances from the entire cast. M-34 seems to be a company willing to take risks and able to produce impressive work and for this they are surely worth keeping an eye out for. — Theatre Is Easy
Viewing The Importance of Being Ernest Hemingway .... is a bit like attending an exhibit of abstract expressionism at the Museum of Modern Art. There is much to contemplate, to take pleasure in, to admire, to be moved by, and, yes, to puzzle over in what is less a straightforward play than a theatrical expression of both ideas and emotions, inspired by the unlikely pairing of the works of Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway. — Upstage Downstage