BLACK LAB THEATRE

Reviews for BAD JEWS  •  April - May 2015

"Bad Jews: Family Issues Make for a Comedic Yet Weighty Play"

scene from Bad Jews

"Under Jordan Jaffe's acute direction ... we are given wide swath to laugh at some superbly constructed and wonderfully performed comedic moments. As Liam, Crouch steals the spotlight in these instances with his one-toe-away-from-utter-hysteria outbursts that air his increasingly funny outrage over Daphna's holier-than-thou attitude, her sense of Jewish entitlement and her claim to an Israeli boyfriend that Liam is sure doesn't exist. Jaffe ensures the energy of the outbursts fills up the tiny studio apartment by flinging Liam about like a rabid bird in a cage".

•  Houston Press       full review

Reviews for TIGERS BE STILL  •  January 2015

"Houston Theater at Its Best, or Rather Theater Anywhere at Its Best"

scene from Tigers Be Still

"This miracle at Wildfish, by way of the wizards at Black Lab Theatre and its amazing cast of four, happens to be the real thing -- a truly blessed event.

The revelations fall into place at just the right moments, but nothing is forced. The writing is fresh, tinged blue the way people speak today, but always hits home. There's no sound in theater as satisfying as when the audience, suddenly laughing, catches its breath and goes ominously silent when a scene turns dramatic. There are three or four of these moments in Tigers, and they stop your heart. And then the laughs start up again."

•  Houston Press       full review

Reviews for REALLY REALLY  •  April - May 2014

"Black Lab Theatre's REALLY REALLY is Intense and Phenomenal"

scene from Really, Really

"As REALLY REALLY peels back its layers before the audience, there is no denying its power and majesty. The play forcibly pulls audiences in and holds us by the throat. We don't dare look away, and we often forget to breathe. During every blackout there are hushed whispers of "wow" or "oh my God."

In his director's note, Jordan Jaffe says "REALLY REALLY is one of the most important, provocative dramas that has been written about millennials by a millennial,". Run, don't walk, to see this phenomenal play."

•  Broadway World Houston       full review

Reviews for 4000 Miles  •  February - March 2014

"Black Lab Theatre's 4000 MILES is Tender and Touching"

scene from 4000 Miles

"No matter what Jordan Jaffe programs for his Black Lab Theatre, the end results always seem to be at the very least excellent. Currently producing Amy Herzog's 4000 MILES, ultimately an intimate portrait of a woman and her grandson, the company brings tender and touching life to a celebrated Off-Broadway play for Houston audiences to enjoy."

"Direction by Jordan Jaffe is clever, making the production ring with insightful honesty. "

•  Broadway World Houston       full review

Reviews for Assistance  •  September - October 2013

"Black Lab Theatre's production of Leslye Headland's ASSISTANCE had me both laughing and thinking during the show and the whole way home."

scene from Assistance

"Black Lab Theatre is producing the regional premiere. In the 90-minute one act play, Daniel Weisinger is a powerful uber-magnate worthy of study and apparently utter admiration, which allures young employees to face incessant embarrassments and sacrifice their individual personhood just to be associated with perceived greatness. The language and tone is biting and acerbic from start to finish. The plot is thin, the pacing superb, and the exactness of the mirror help up to the Generation Y audience ridiculously pristine."

"Direction by Jordan Jaffe is clever, making the production ring with insightful honesty. "

•  Broadway World Houston       full review

The real work and art of the play comes as the six actors create Daniel together, painting a portrait done solely with the aid of the one-sided phone conversation ... Adam Gibbs as Nick and Rebekah Stevens Gibbs as Nora are superb at building this character we will never see. Through their palpable sense of terror as soon as they see watch phone lines light up, to their cowering and groveling to an anonymous voice on the other end of a phone line, this offstage husband-and-wife team manage to make Daniel into a probable sociopath.

•  Arts+Culture Texas       full review

Reviews for Chinglish  •  May 2013

"CHINGLISH will be remembered as one of the best plays ever produced in our city"

scene from Chinglish

"Black Lab Theatre, which has done nothing but phenomenal work this season, definitely saved the best for last. In all sincerity, this production is easily the not-to-be-missed event of the season. Black Lab Theatre's CHINGLISH is thrilling, exciting, poignant, fresh, amazing, hilarious, relevant, touching, empowering, thoughtful, and thought provoking. It is the best written and best acted play to be presented in Houston since I started writing for BroadwayWorld almost a year ago, and I am certain that it will be remembered as one of the best plays ever produced in our great city."

•  Broadway World Houston       full review

"David Henry Hwang's brilliant play is not just funny -- it is downright hysterical and will take you to the place of rolling tears of laughter and delight. And, yet, among the laughter are moments of great poignancy and emotional depth.

And the results are spectacular. I kept thinking, this reminds me of a Woody Allen play or film. Indeed, Chinglish, being a very accessible and endlessly funny play, would work very well as a film. I have not had this much fun at the theatre in many a season.

•  Houston Chronicle: The Critic's Critic       full review

Reviews for The Submission  •  January 2013

"Black Lab Theatre's The Submission is Riveting, Razor-Sharp Treatise"

scene from The Submission

"The Submission is so finely crafted and skillfully woven together, it seemed like there were more than four characters telling this monumentally important tale of intolerance. Mr. Talbott paints elaborate pictures that keep us hanging onto each and every word as if that word or the next is the most important word in the play.

Black Lab artistic director Jordan Jaffe skillfully directs The Submission with the exactness and precision of a surgeon's knife. The final confrontation takes place in a small motel room and could not be more claustrophobically blocked and staged, working to the maximum advantage for this explosive scene to rock and roll us into complete submission.

I cannot more highly recommend your submitting yourself to the tumultuous and meaningful journey that The Submission provides. A more thought-provoking and revelatory play you will not have experienced thus far this season."

•  Houston Chronicle       full review

Reviews for BOOM  •  September 2012
Best Play/Production Nominee, 2012-13 Houston Theater Awards

"Black Lab Theatre's BOOM - Bombastically Funny, Exploding With Insight"

"Every so often we are treated to a fresh and original look at the end of humanity. This is exactly what Black Lab Theatre is offering Houston with their production of Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's big bang of a hit comedy BOOM ... This fresh take on the end of the world is a fantastic way for Black Lab Theatre to begin their new season in addition to being a wonderfully entertaining comedic tour de force.

scene from Boom

Justin Doran's directorial leadership is on fantastic display in this production. Pacing never lags during the almost 90 minute, intermission-less show. No beat is dropped, and no cue is missed.

As Jules, Jordan Jaffe, Black Lab Theatre's Founding Artistic Director, is remarkable to experience. Jaffe's Jules is so intrinsically conceived and conceptualized that the audience truly feels they are viewing a real person and not a portrayal of a person ... Simply put, Jordan Jaffe is brilliant on the stage.

Lindsay Ehrhardt is sublime as the angst addled, superficially indulgent Jo. Barbara, as portrayed by Celeste Roberts, is the evening's shining star ... her proficient and enchanting comedic stylings reminded me of the best aspects of Cheri Oteri and Ana Gasteyer.

Black Lab Theatre's production of BOOM is bombastically funny and exploding with insight ... It is superb production, where every element works together to create a dazzlingly plausible picture that is sure to amuse while giving reasons to think."

•  Broadway World Houston       full review

"Black Lab Theatre's BOOM Explodes With Brilliance On Every Level"

"Peter Sinn Nachrieb's play is nothing short of miraculous as it stuns, surprises, and scintillates us for a total of 85 minutes. Boom is intelligent playwrighting at its most profound (the playwright was really a marine biologist) and the dialogue is contemporary, hip, many times hilarious, stabbing, and tremendously satisfying. scene from Boom Black Lab Theatre, one of Houston's newest, brightest, edgiest, hippest, and most extraordinary theatre companies, produces Boom with the dazzling fire and radiant resplendence of a comet coming at us at the speed of light.

Justin Doran's direction is so tight, crisp, and electrifying and moves the play forward with such breathtaking spontaneity and animation that we are completely sucked into the action as if we have been caught up in a giant whirlpool that pulls us around and around until we reach its climactic center. Jordan Jaffe, artistic director and founder of Black Lab Theatre, brilliantly captures the essence of Jules, the gay marine biologist, as he seemingly attempts the impossible -- to capture the heart, soul, and body of Jo, his Eve of the new world. Mr. Jaffe flawlessly inhabits the only completely sane character in this three person whirlwind of tangled emotions. Lindsay Ehrhardt triumphs magnificently as Jo with every tart, biting, penetrating arrow shot at Jules. Celeste Roberts brilliantly ties Boom together with a godlike countenance and consciousness ... and gives her character a stabbing, sarcastic edge as she masterfully manipulates the characters for our viewing pleasure.

I will be thinking about this phenomenal experience for many weeks to come. Boom truly is one of best and wildest theatrical rides of the season."

•  Houston Chronicle       full review

"Boom from Black Lab Theatre: A Blissful Evening of Humor and Big Ideas"

"The events are directed by Justin Doran with a sure hand, and the result is close to perfection. Despite its amusing ingenuity, this is a difficult play, and Doran permits the serious ideas to emerge through the comedic surface ... Doran has found the rich humor, the gravitas of the issues, which center around evolution, as well as the hidden, running joke that human nature, alas, will never change. Doran is perfectly paired with the genius of Nachtrieb.

Boom is a high-wire tightrope act, breathtaking in its courage and daring, and I'm recovered enough from laughter to report how delighted I am that Doran and the talented cast made it across to a successful conclusion.

A brilliant cast, wonderful character-driven humor, elaborate stage props and a driving comedic energy under a sure directorial hand create an evening of pure bliss. This is riveting theater, with some big ideas emerging through its hilarious humor. Don't miss it!"

• Houston Press Art Attack       full review

Reviews for Our House

"Black Lab Theatre's Our House is Fast, Furious, Evocative Satire"

"Theresa Rebeck's Our House, a very dark comedic satire, is receiving an astonishingly and surprising slick and remarkably memorable regional premiere by Black Lab Theatre.

scene from Our House

David Rainey magnificently works his magic as an astute theatre professional, exquisitely directing one of the best ensemble casts of the season. There is no weak link in the seven amazing actors that make Our House rock with the greatness of theatre conceived and produced at its best."

I was blown away by this second production by Black Lab Theatre, one of the newest and brightest theatres in Houston. Our House is, absolutely and without a doubt, a must-see, and one of my favorite plays of the season because of its message, its intensity, and the impressiveness with which it is performed and produced.

•  Houston Chronicle       full review

"Our House from Black Lab Theatre: Must-See 'TV'"

"Don't adjust the horizontal and don't try to fix the vertical on this TV at Black Lab Theatre. It's programmed for satire of the biting kind. Anyway, you'll be too enthralled by this cautionary tale from Theresa Rebeck to move off the couch to change the channel.

The ensemble cast is well-nigh perfect, and Mike Yager is a standout. Wearing a Beavis and Butt-head T-shirt (thank you, costumer Macy Perrone), he's both psychotic and all-too real, sitting around the apartment in his underwear and swearing at the tube, when not confronting his roommates or dreaming of meeting his love/hate idol Jennifer. Passive/aggressive gets a whole new meaning in Yager's bone-chilling depiction. He's the roommate from hell, and we've all had one ... As perky anchor Jennifer, Kelley Peters exudes that Katie Couric false charm that hides a fist of iron. She's going to the top and nothing, repeat nothing, will stand in her way, except maybe wearing an angora sweater on live TV that sheds and makes her look like a "fucking tomato."

Under David Rainey's whiz-bang and perceptive direction, there's no static anywhere. The play moves to its inevitable conclusion and keeps us riveted throughout. You won't reach for the clicker. This is must-see TV!"

•  Houston Press - Art Attack       full review

Our House: A Black Lab Theatre Production

Our House, produced by Black Lab Theatre, is just one of those shows that begs to not be spoiled. The end of Act One brings with it one of the more genuinely shocking twists of any play I've seen in recent memory and who am I to go spilling key plot points? We're just going to have to skirt the specifics on this one, and focus on the general dark hilarity of both scripting and direction found in this regional premier production.

Director David Rainey is to be applauded for his skilled handling of both timing and styling in this production, as actors are permitted to overlap their lines and raise their voices to near painful pitches.

•  The LoopScoop       full review

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