April 24, 2024

By Nancy Plum

The period in England between 17th-century composer Henry Purcell and the early 20th century was bleak for native composers. Ralph Vaughan Williams began putting British composition back on the map in the late 19th century, soon joined by Sir Edward Elgar, who had been knocking at the door of recognition for quite a while before the premiere of his epic choral/orchestral The Dream of Gerontius. Taking the practice of incorporating chorus into symphonic works to a new level, Elgar’s Gerontius traces the journey of the title character from deathbed to judgement before God. The Princeton University Orchestra and Glee Club joined forces this past weekend to present this monumental work at Richardson Auditorium. A combined Walter L. Nollner and Stuart B. Mindlin memorial concert, this performance also acknowledged graduating seniors of both ensembles, sending them off into the world celebrating a musical achievement and contemplating the cycle of life questions Elgar raised.  more

April 10, 2024

“FLIGHT OF A LEGLESS BIRD”: Performances are underway for “Flight of a Legless Bird.” Written by Ethan Luk, and directed by Luk in collaboration with retired Program in Theater faculty member R.N. Sandberg, the play runs through April 13 at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre. Above, from left: Disparate circumstances cause Robin (Wasif Sami) and Leslie (Luk) to meet, after which a unique, unexpected bond is formed. (Photo by James DeSalvo)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

In the film Days of Being Wild (1990), actor Leslie Cheung delivers this line: “I’ve heard that there’s a kind of bird without legs that can only fly and fly, and sleep in the wind when it is tired. The bird only lands once in its life … that’s when it dies.”

Flight of a Legless Bird is an exquisite, poignant play that portrays two queer artists who metaphorically, as Cheung’s dialogue says, “fly and fly.” Both are fleeing from circumstances in which they feel trapped. Certain events cause their “flight” paths to intersect, and they have a chance encounter that affects them in unexpected ways. more

April 3, 2024

“YAGA”: Performances are underway for “Yaga.” Directed by Kat McLaughlin, the play runs through April 7 at the Hamilton Murray Theater. Above, eager college student Henry Kalles (Tate Keuler) and the mysterious Anna (Kristen Tan) strike up a conversation, leading to dangerous events. (Photo by Lucy Shea)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

In an Encyclopedia of Legendary Creatures (1981), author Tom McGowen describes the “dreaded ogress Baba Yaga” as resembling a “frightfully ugly old woman” who had “stone teeth, and her food was people, especially children.” She lived in a hut “perched on four chicken legs” and “flew through the air after her prey in a large mortar, steered with a pestle.”

Noting the character’s basis in Slavic folklore, the website for World History Encyclopedia adds that she also is known “as guardian of the fountains of the waters of life and is sometimes seen as embodying female empowerment.”  more

March 20, 2024

By Nancy Plum

The period from the late-18th to mid-19th centuries saw the premature deaths of many highly-prolific composers. Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Bellini — none lived to see the age of 40, but each composed an astounding body of work which has endured to this day. Not the least in this ill-fated group is French composer Georges Bizet who, felled by a heart attack at the age of 36, was never able to enjoy the success of his immensely popular 1875 opera Carmen. Denounced as immoral at its premiere, Carmen has long since risen above scandal to become one of the most widely-performed operas in the repertory.   more

March 13, 2024

By Nancy Plum

Princeton Symphony Orchestra combined innovative performance with contemporary music this past weekend with a pair of collaborative performances with Time for Three, a groundbreaking ensemble crossing boundaries of classical, Americana, and singer-songwriter genres with virtuosic playing. Led by Princeton Symphony Orchestra Music Director Rossen Milanov, the two ensembles alone and together presented an evening of late 19th-century and early 20th-century ballet, as well as a newly-composed work written for Time for Three. The combined performance of these instrumentalists brought the audience to its feet with the dazzling playing of Time for Three double bassist Ranaan Meyer and violinists Nick Kendall and Charles Yang.  more

“DREAMGIRLS”: Performances are underway for “Dreamgirls.” Directed by Lili-Anne Brown, the musical runs through March 24 at McCarter’s Matthews Theatre. Above, from left, sporting glittery costumes, the Dreams — Effie (Trejah Bostic), Deena (Ta-Tynisa Wilson), and Lorrell (Keirsten Hodgens) — perform with a backup ensemble that wears the same outfits worn by the Dreams earlier in the show, before they achieve stardom. (Photo by Diane Sobolewski)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

The Motown-inspired musical Dreamgirls has succeeded both as a Broadway show (1981) directed by Michael Bennett, and as a film (2006). But as the dazzling, energetic production that is playing at McCarter demonstrates, this piece is at its best when it can be seen — and heard — on a live stage.

This revival is a collaboration between Goodspeed Musicals, which presented the show in East Haddam, Conn., in late 2023, and McCarter Theatre. Insightfully directed by five-time Jeff Award winner Lili-Anne Brown (assisted by Vaughn Ryan Midder), the production spotlights both the glamour of the music business and the pain caused by machinations that take place behind the scenes. more

March 6, 2024

By Nancy Plum

The annual Princeton University Orchestra Concerto Competition has always shown the depth of talent in the University student body. This year was no exception, with the Orchestra performing a showcase concert of the Competition winners this past weekend. Under the direction of PUO Conductor Michael Pratt, the Orchestra played three full and complex concerti featuring tuba, cello, and violin soloists. As a bonus, the ensemble presented a world premiere of a collaborative work with the University’s African Music Ensemble and the West African Dafra Kura Band.

The Concerto Competition winners were young this year, with three underclassmen displaying impressive technical dexterity in the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams, Robert Schumann, and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Sophomore Wesley Sanders and the University Orchestra opened Friday night’s performance in Richardson Auditorium (the concert was repeated Saturday night) with Vaughan Williams’ Concerto for Bass Tuba. The first major concerto ever written for tuba and orchestra, the 1954 concerto packed within its three movements virtuosic requirements well illustrating the full capabilities of the instrument. more

February 28, 2024

By Nancy Plum

The fall performance of the Richardson Chamber Players, postponed from its original November date at Richardson Auditorium, took place last Thursday night at Taplin Auditorium in Fine Hall on the University campus. The concert was devoted to the music of “Les Six,” a group of composers working in Paris during the early 20th century and credited with developing a purely French repertory of music. The nine musicians who performed Thursday night as the Chamber Players presented a program of works for a variety of instrumental and vocal combinations, allowing the audience to experience collective artistry close up.

Clarinetist Jo-Ann Sternberg, violinist Brennan Sweet, and pianist Allison Brewster Franzetti opened the concert with the 1936 Suite for Clarinet, Violin, and Piano of Darius Milhaud, immediately showing a bright ensemble sound. Sternberg’s clarinet lines richly resonated through the intimate space of Taplin Auditorium and Brennan’s lyrical violin passages brought out well Milhaud’s graceful melodies. The three players highlighted the saucy feel of the closing movement, bringing the work to a graceful close.  more

“PIPELINE”: Performances are underway for “Pipeline.” Directed by Alex Conboy, the play runs through March 3 at the Hamilton Murray Theater.Above, from left: Omari (Matthew Oke), a student who faces expulsion from a private school, and his mother, Nya (Alex Conboy), a public school teacher who desperately wants her son to have opportunities that her students may never have. (Photo by Lucy Shea)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Prior to her career as an actor and award-winning playwright, as well as a story editor and co-producer of the Showtime series Shameless, Dominique Morisseau taught drama at the Henry Ford Academy, a high school near Detroit, where her mother also taught.

So Morisseau’s moving and poetic drama Pipeline (2017), in which the central protagonist is a teacher, is informed by firsthand experience. The play won the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award, and premiered at Lincoln Center Theater. more

February 21, 2024

By Nancy Plum

The Princeton University Glee Club, currently under the direction of Gabriel Crouch, has maintained a long history of collaborations with vocal artists and ensembles who come to Princeton to coach the chorus members and perform with the Glee Club in a joint concert. This past week, as part of its 10th anniversary “Glee Club Presents” series, the chorus invited to campus the professional American Spiritual Ensemble, which has sustained a mission of keeping the American Negro spiritual alive for more than 25 years. Founded and led by Everett McCorvey, the Spiritual Ensemble seeks to preserve what McCorvey called “folksongs of the Negro slaves” which were not only a source of comfort, hope, and faith throughout centuries, but also a clandestine form of communication. more

February 14, 2024

By Nancy Plum

The concert this past weekend by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine at McCarter Theatre was long overdue. The Orchestra was scheduled to perform at McCarter a year ago, but the ongoing conflict in that region, combined with travel and economic difficulties, shelved those plans. The Orchestra was finally able to embark on a United States tour this month, and the ensemble brought a rare musical experience to Matthews Theater Sunday afternoon. Led by Volodymyr Sirenko and featuring guest pianist Volodymyr Vynnytsky, the Orchestra presented a program steeped in both the Romantic symphonic tradition and Ukrainian musical history.  more

“GHETTO GODS IN DIVINELAND”: Performances are underway for “Ghetto Gods in Divineland.” Written by Richard Bradford and Anthony Martinez-Briggs, and directed by Ozzie Jones, the play with music runs through February 25 at Passage Theatre. Above, from left, Gekiyla (Tasha Holmes), Papi Shh (Carlo Campbell), and Ameen (Davon Cochran) meet on the Lower Trenton Bridge — a tableau that recalls the Poor Righteous Teachers’ 1990 video for their song “Rock Dis Funky Joint.” (Photo by Jeff Stewart)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

In honor of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, Passage Theatre is presenting the world premiere of Ghetto Gods in Divineland. The play — a vibrant and poignant blend of drama, music, and dance — is a salute to the Poor Righteous Teachers (PRT), a hip-hop group whose members — Wise Intelligent, Culture Freedom, and the late Father Shaheed — were from Trenton.

A press release describes the show as an “experimental Afrofuturism play” that portrays “Trenton’s political and social issues through the lens of the ‘Divineland’ neighborhood — also known as the Mayor Donnelly Project Homes, where the members of PRT met and grew up. The play dramatizes the social trauma of Trenton’s Divineland using progressiveness, modern science, technology, and wisdom from the ancestors.”  more

February 7, 2024

By Nancy Plum

The Westminster Community Orchestra performed a veritable potpourri of instrumental and vocal music this past weekend. Sunday afternoon’s concert in Richardson Auditorium had something for everyone, from operatic excerpts to a world premiere to traditional Chinese music. Led by conductor Ruth Ochs, the 55-member ensemble showcased several student winners of the Orchestra’s Concerto Competition, as well as one of Rider University’s choruses. Taking a pep rally approach to drawing the audience into the performance, Ochs brought an additionally festive atmosphere to the afternoon.

The Community Orchestra displayed its own capabilities opening with Carl Maria von Weber’s “Overture” to his 1821 opera Der Freischütz. Considered the first German Romantic opera, Weber’s work was revolutionary in its folklore roots and unearthly portrayal of the supernatural. Ochs and the Orchestra began the work with a slow, dark, and mysterious introduction, as a quartet of horns set the Wolf’s Glen scene. The string sound was well balanced, with the second section of the “Overture” fully symphonic and martial. Clarinetists Russell Labe and Pamela Kotula provided graceful lines coloring the music well. more

January 24, 2024

By Nancy Plum

Mahler Chamber Orchestra, a collective of players from around the world, has been heard in Princeton in the past, dating back to before the pandemic. Last weekend, Princeton University Concerts presented the renowned ensemble in a ground-breaking format of an immersive virtual installation. For four days, the public had the opportunity to be part of a multi-dimensional orchestral world as the Chamber Orchestra presented works of Mozart, Ives, and Mendelssohn, conveyed to listeners via headsets including a display screen, stereo sound, and sensors. The 45-minute concert was part of the Chamber Orchestra’s “Future Presence” project, a virtual reality initiative to enable fluid dynamic interaction among listeners, music, and performers.  more

January 17, 2024

By Nancy Plum

Princeton Symphony Orchestra continued this season’s focus on composers and musicians associated with Princeton this past weekend with performances of works by Princeton-educated composers, one sung by a University graduate now an opera superstar. On Saturday night and Sunday afternoon in Richardson Auditorium, Princeton Symphony Music Director Rossen Milanov led the musicians in an imaginative program of music ranging from the 18th century to current times. 

Princeton University’s compositional Ph.D. program has launched some of the most innovative creators of new music working today. Nina Shekhar, currently a Ph.D. candidate in music composition at the University, has already achieved acclaim and awards for her work. The one-movement orchestral Lumina, performed by Princeton Symphony in this weekend’s concerts, well demonstrated Shekhar’s inventive approach to instrumental music. Beginning with long notes from bowed xylophone and glockenspiel, followed by periods of silence in which the residual sound echoed through the hall, Lumina was full of suspense and contrasts between light and dark. Shekhar used the full orchestra in the instrumentation, with solos from clarinetist Pascal Archer and flutist Scott Kemsley emerging from the orchestral palette. Shekhar’s piece possessed a pulsating feel, both from natural acoustics and musical effects, and was rich in majestic symphonic sound.  more

December 20, 2023

By Nancy Plum

New Jersey Symphony returned to Richardson Auditorium this past weekend for the ensemble’s annual presentation of George Frideric Handel’s always-popular oratorio Messiah. Conducted by noted baroque specialist Nicholas McGegan, the spirited performance last Friday night brought together a stylistic chamber orchestra, youthful chorus, and four vocal soloists.

Messiah is comprised of nearly 50 choruses, recitatives, and solos or duets tracing the life of Christ in three distinct parts. McGegan, known for the speed and clarity of his baroque music performances, led the Symphony and Montclair State University Singers in all but a handful of the numbers in a concise 2½ hours of buoyant instrumental playing, clean choral singing, and lyrical vocal solos. His approach to the work, which he has conducted many times, emphasized the theatricality of the biblical story, as well as the charm and elegance of the 18th century.

As with most oratorios of its era, Messiah opened with an instrumental “Overture.” In Friday night’s performance, the musicians maintained crisp rhythms, with sharply-played double-dotted notes keeping the pace of the music moving forward. McGegan maintained a quick but unhurried tempo, with a lean orchestral fugue setting the stage for what was to come. more

December 6, 2023

By Stuart Mitchner

I love this time of day, 1:30 to 3 a.m., kitchen to myself, cleaning up to music from the Bose Wave. I turn on WWFM in time to hear the first two movements of Haydn’s string quartet No. 23 in F minor, which creates a nice slow weaving motion that goes surprisingly well with sweeping the floor.

According to his biographer Albert Christoph Dies, Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) once claimed that musical ideas were pursuing him: “If it’s an allegro that pursues me, my pulse keeps beating faster, I can get no sleep. If it’s an adagio, then I notice my pulse beating slowly. My imagination plays on me as if I were a clavier…. I am really just a living clavier.”

Basie the Piano

Pondering the idea of a composer or a player becoming the embodiment of their instrument, my thoughts turn first to Red Bank’s favorite son Count Basie. If anyone this side of Glenn Gould or Duke Ellington qualified as “a living piano” it was Basie playing one or two incandescent notes between the heaves of big band storm. Listening to the 1975 RCA session with Basie and tenor man Zoot Sims while sweeping the tile dance floor in my night club kitchen at 3 a.m., the number I keep coming back to is a medium slow blues Basie calls “Captain Bligh.” After much looking online I’ve given up trying to find out why he named a blues after the deposed commander of HMS Bounty. In my search of the Net, however, what I found was a smile: of course, Basie’s big band recorded two albums of Beatles songs in the 1960s, one of them with liner notes by Ringo Starr. more

By Nancy Plum

The Princeton University Orchestra and Glee Club joined forces this past weekend at Richardson Auditorium to present an unusual gem of a concerto from one of the most creative periods of French musical history. Orchestra conductor Michael Pratt and Glee Club director Gabriel Crouch brought together the two ensembles to perform a concerto for two pianos, multiple saxophones, orchestra and chorus by 20th-century composer Germaine Tailleferre, whose compositional output has remained largely unexplored until recent decades. Combined with the music of Brahms and Mozart, the Tailleferre work created a solid anchor for the Orchestra’s annual tribute to former University faculty member and composer Peter Westergaard.

The University Orchestra opened Friday night’s concert (the performance was repeated Saturday evening) with one of the University music department’s talented students leading the ensemble. Senior Aster Zhang has performed extensively as a cellist both nationally and worldwide and is also trained as a conductor. For her portion of the program, Zhang led the Orchestra in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Overture” to The Magic Flute. Conducting without a baton, Zhang was poised and professional from the outset, leading a stately opening and smooth transition to the quick-moving passages. The string sound was consistently light, and musical punctuation clear. Taking her time in slower sections, Zhang showed Mozart’s drama well, aided by elegant wind solos. more

November 15, 2023

By Nancy Plum

Princeton Symphony Orchestra returned choral music to its repertory this past weekend with a performance of a newly-reimagined edition of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s popular Requiem. Since Mozart’s untimely death in 1791 left the work incomplete, scholars have attempted to second-guess the composer and provide an alternative completion adhering to Mozart’s intent and historical character. Conductor Rossen Milanov and Princeton Symphony Orchestra brought this rendition of Mozart’s immortal masterpiece to Richardson Auditorium this past weekend, with composer Gregory Spears’ addition of three new movements to the mass for the dead. Joining the Orchestra for Saturday night’s performance (the concert was repeated Sunday afternoon) were four vocal soloists and Westminster Symphonic Choir.

Princeton Symphony Orchestra paired the Requiem with a 21st-century work inspired by a string quartet of Mozart contemporary Franz Joseph Haydn. Caroline Shaw’s 2011 Entr’acte for string orchestra incorporated contemporary musical effects into a classically-structured piece, including passages reminiscent of J.S. Bach. Milanov led the Orchestra in a feathery opening to Shaw’s one-movement work, allowing the music to quickly become powerful while maintaining a lean quality. Concertmaster Basia Danilow and principal cellist Alistair MacRae played an intense duet against relentless pizzicati of the other players, and MacRae’s graceful lute-like playing delicately brought Shaw’s unique and appealing work to a close.  more

November 8, 2023

By Nancy Plum

When choruses choose to perform the oratorios of George Frideric Handel, it is usually the popular Messiah which draws in audiences. However, Handel composed close to 30 oratorios, essentially perfecting the genre when interest in Italian opera waned in 18th-century England. Sung in English, oratorios had great audience appeal, retaining the solo vocal fireworks popular in opera but adding complex choral numbers which served a narrative function and provided commentary on the action.

Handel looked to biblical sources for subject matter to create his familiar oratorios, with works based on the stories of Saul, Samson, and Judas Maccabeus. Lesser known is the 1748 Solomon, which depicts the life of the monarch of ancient Israel in 63 arias, recitatives, and choruses. Handel’s choral/orchestral works are tailor-made for the more than 100-member Princeton Pro Musica, which brought a production of Solomon to Richardson Auditorium this past Sunday afternoon. Led by Pro Musica Artistic Director Ryan J. Brandau and joined by the period orchestra New York Baroque Incorporated and five vocal soloists, Pro Musica presented a spirited performance of Handel’s animated work. more

November 1, 2023

By Nancy Plum

McCarter Theatre is well into a season of diverse presentations, including the well-respected Classical Music Series. Last week, two renowned specialist Baroque performing ensembles came to Princeton for an evening of Johann Sebastian Bach. The London-based Monteverdi Choir and its companion English Baroque Soloists orchestra took the stage at Richardson Auditorium last Monday night to perform Bach’s 1749 Mass in B Minor, the 18th-century master’s extended setting of liturgical text.

Completed just a year before Bach’s death, Mass in B Minor was comprised of more than 25 choral movements, solos and duets, and was unique in its time for including the five major sections of the mass text, rather than the customary “Kyrie” and “Gloria.” Likely never performed in Bach’s lifetime, this piece has become one of the composer’s most enduring choral works. It is also one of the most difficult to perform, requiring a great deal of vocal stamina, and is an example of Bach’s innate tendency to write instrumentally, even for the voice.

There are as many ways to perform Bach’s music as there are ensembles worldwide. The evolution of choral societies in the 19th century led to massive choirs singing Bach with large orchestras and Romantic musical effects. The mid-20th century brought a renewed interest in presenting this music in the manner in which the music was originally conceived, an approach especially popular among European performers. The Monteverdi Choir, on the verge of its 60th anniversary, was founded to specialize in historically-inspired projects, with the Choir’s umbrella organization home to the younger but equally as influential English Baroque Soloists period instrumental orchestra. Dinis Sousa, associate conductor of the Monteverdi ensembles, led both the Choir and Baroque Soloists in their presentation of Bach’s towering work last Monday night. more

October 25, 2023

By Nancy Plum

New Jersey Symphony has long provided a showcase for up-and-coming artists destined for the forefront of the performing arena. The Symphony’s opening concert of its Princeton series this past Friday night at Richardson Auditorium brought together a conductor and solo cellist currently relatively unknown, but not for long. Conductor Joseph Young, music director of the Berkeley Symphony and director of ensembles at Peabody Conservatory, led the Symphony musicians in a program of Robert Schumann, Edward Elgar, and the Princeton University-connected Jessie Montgomery, and featured in the Schumann Cello Concerto was a definite future star in cellist Sterling Elliott, currently pursuing an artist diploma at The Juilliard School. The three pieces performed in Friday night’s concert highlighted unique instrumentation, rich orchestral colors, and a touch of virtuosity.

American composer Jessie Montgomery has had a partnership with Princeton University as a graduate fellow in music composition and has been making a name for herself creating musical works for ensembles nationwide. Among her most recent commissions was Snapshots, co-commissioned by several orchestras, including New Jersey Symphony. Friday night’s performance represented the East Coast premiere of Montgomery’s four-movement work, which Montgomery has described as a set of vignettes of her time studying film music. more

October 18, 2023

By Nancy Plum

Princeton University Concerts launched its 130th season this past week with a total immersion experience provided by a renowned professional chorus enjoying a visit to the University. The San Francisco-based vocal ensemble Chanticleer, led by music director and University graduate Tim Keeler, came to Princeton for a collaboration with the University Glee Club, currently under the direction of conductor Gabriel Crouch. Following days of joint rehearsals, a “Chamber Jam” and a “Live Music Meditation,” the two ensembles presented a concert this past Thursday night at Richardson Auditorium to close out their successful partnership. Typical of Chanticleer’s performances, the program featured repertoire ranging from the very traditional Max Reger and Heinrich Isaac to Hoagy Carmichael and Joni Mitchell, as well as a contemporary work by another Princeton University graduate.  more

October 11, 2023

By Nancy Plum

Fall always brings lively audiences to Richardson Auditorium for the University’s ensemble concerts, with anticipation of the new academic year and students cheering each other on. Princeton University Orchestra began its 2023-24 season this past weekend with two performances in Richardson featuring both the newest Orchestra roster of talented students and one student musician in particular who successfully tackled one of the most difficult works in the repertory.

Led by conductor Michael Pratt, Friday night’s performance (the concert was repeated Saturday night) continued the ensemble’s multi-year tradition of paying tribute to Ukraine with the playing of Elegie by Ukrainian composer and ethnomusicologist Mykola Lysenko. The Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff works which comprised the bulk of Friday’s program showcased the full capabilities of the Orchestra, and Pratt felt that for this season opener, the voice of Ukraine should also be heard. Lysenko originally composed Elegie as a solo piano piece, and the instrumental version played by the Orchestra was created by composer Vsevolod Sirenko and one of Princeton’s own — Class of 1983 graduate Hobart Earle, currently conductor of Ukraine’s Odesa Regional Philharmonic. This arrangement preserved Lysenko’s keyboard charm while reflecting the composer’s desire to retain Ukraine’s distinct identity within the country’s Russian historical influence. more

October 4, 2023

“LOW PAY? DON’T PAY!”: Performances are underway for “Low Pay? Don’t Pay!” Directed by Elena Milliken, the play runs through October 8 at the Hamilton Murray Theater. Above, from left: Fed up with exorbitant grocery prices, Margherita (Gabe Robare) and Antonia (Sophia Vernon) commit a theft that they must conceal, not only from the police, but from Antonia’s husband Giovanni (Tate Keuler). (Photo by Rilla McKeegan)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

The farce Low Pay? Don’t Pay! follows two women who become fed up with increasingly exorbitant food prices. The play’s action begins when they take matters — specifically, armfuls of groceries — into their own hands, and leave a store without paying.

A Google search for “high grocery prices” yields an abundance of articles, from a variety of sources, published within the past few months. Given the painful topicality of the subject matter, casual audiences might think that the play is recent.  more