Brad Mays - Reviews


"This is no industry showcase unless, of course, these people are completely out of their minds."
Steven Leigh Morris on Brad Mays' acclaimed and controversial 1997 production of Euripides' The Bacchae which was nominated for three LA Weekly Theatre Awards including Best Director.

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE
(LA Production - 2003 - PICK OF THE WEEK) THEATRE
"What most distinguishes director Brad Mays' faithful production of Anthony Burgess' stage adaptation of his own novel is Mays' casting of a female, V.C. Smith as Alex, the juvenile delinquent narrator. By choosing an androgynous teenage-looking woman of slight build to play the lead, Mays empahsizes the tender age of the 15-year-old antagonist. Smith could be the bad-seed offspring of punk-rock goddess Patti Smith, with her diminutive stature, intense glare and badass swagger. She's convincingly pathological as the firecracker who goes absolutely berserk, beating up and inspiring awe in guys much larger than himself. With a psychopathic army of "droogs" (Ricky Coates, Michael Holmes, Sterling Wolfe), Alex orchestrates his "horror stories," which include crippling a middle-aged writer (Pab Schwendimann) and brutally raping his wife (Mary Elizabeth Barrett). Alex ends up in the slammer after murdering a fiesty old woman (Dee Amerio Sudik), then undergoes thereputic treatment that will make him "good" and buy him an early release. But in seeking freedom from imprisonment, Alex gives up freedom of choice. Mays' visceral, fast-paced multimedia show brings into stark relief the Freudian struggle between the primal self and the civilized self for domination over the human spirit. The director deftly conveys the horror of violence by subjecting the audience to an onslaught of images of war, torture and hardcore porn projected on seven TV screens." - LA Weekly

"In the Ark Theatre Company's multimedia production of Anthony Burgess's A CLOCKWORK ORANGE...seven video screens spew a relentless montage of animated Japanese porn, violent news clips, live-action porn, and archival footage as Alex and his droogs rape and brutalize their way across the stage. Burgess's well-known tale of a 15-year-old psychopath and the gang he holds in thrall is a kinetic meditation on sex, violence, and free will. Imprisoned for murder, Alex submits to an experimental treatment to make him physically ill at the thought of violence. In the meantime, the government enlists Alex's old gang as especially brutal cops. Clearly, the state has uses for violence that it can control. The exceptionally well-edited video clips induce a disorienting mixture of disgust and arousal. As Alex, V.C. Smith is solid. The droogs are equally strong, particularly Sterling Wolfe in a funny turn as Dim. Alex remains a monster at story's end, but with the experiment a failure and his free will intact, he's a human one." - City Beat

MARAT/SADE
(LA Production - 2000) THEATRE
"For a small theatre company to undertake a full-bore production of THE PERSECUTION AND ASSASSINATION OF JEAN-PAUL MARAT AS PERFORMED BY THE INMATES OF THE ASYLUM OF CHARENTON UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE MARQUIS DE SADE - at the height of the holiday season, no less - takes considerable chutzpah. Jeoffery Skelton's English version of (Peter) Weiss' play, featuring verse adaptation by Adrian Mitchell and Richard Peaslee's magnificient music, received a famous staging by Peter Brook and the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1964 and helped catapult Glenda Jackson to stardom. Many of the pulses of Brad Mays' staging at Theatre Of NOTE echo Brook's legendary original. But Mays' staging is very much his own, an organic ensemble effort in which each character, right down to the non-speaking roles, has been intensively choreographed and molded to the last nuance." - LA Times

"Brad Mays' staging of Peter Weiss' 1964 political spectacle delivers the intellectual goods. But Mays sacrifices some of the menace to the frivolity of burlesque elements. Nevertheless, this is an engaging production with generally superior ensemble work." - LA Weekly

"THE PERSECUTION AND ASSASSINATION OF JEAN-PAUL MARAT AS PERFORMED BY THE INMATES OF THE ASYLUM OF CHARENTON UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE MARQUIS DE SADE - With a title this long, it's got to be good. But memories of bad productions of this esoteric event play linger long after the title has lost its bite. Adrian Mitchell's fully restored verse translation of Peter Weiss' 1964 play, directed by Brad Mays, helps restore faith in the existence of good theatre. It is well performed, superbly directed, beautifully produced, and thoroughly engaging." - Backstage West

THE TROJAN WOMEN
(LA Production - 2003) THEATRE
"Director Brad Mays precedes his production of Euripides' indictment of war and the ravages it inflicts on women with a clever mock-CNN broadcast on "the war in Troy," detailing Greece's recent triumph with its latest stealth weapon, the Trojan Horse (a.k.a. "the Mother of All Horses.") As Queen Hecuba (Willow Hale) and a chorus of fellow Trojan widows await their fate (as spoils of war), they mourn their dead, lament the gods' will and vow to uphold their slain spouses' honor. Aomawa Baker does a heartbreaking turn as Hecuba's daughter-in-law, Andromache, whose young son is executed lest he lead a rebellion when he matures." - LA Weekly

THE BACCHAE
(LA Production - 1997) THEATRE

"Vigorous, erotic, and ultimately haunting production of Euripides' massive play. As the audience is seated, a chorus of 19 lithesome young Maenads, dressed in spandex dancewear, gathers on a Spartan, earth-tone set to warm up - stretching, humming in unison, stripping out of their tights to don loose-fitting mock-Greco tunics. Written near the end of Euripides' life, and performed only after his death, THE BACCHAE offers a bitter warning to any culture (including that of fifth-century Athens) too enamored of reason; beware of repressing the mystical, sexual forces that reside within us, or they will spew out like a volcanic eruption, burying cities in their wake. "Acknowledge Dionysus," counsels the Chorus.

That spry, androgynous god of fertility and wine (played with a winking panache and an ever-twisting torso by the cherubic Richard Werner) is back in Thebes, disguised as a mere mortal - a "little faggot," to quote his archrival, King Pentheus (T.J. Ryan). Dionysus has a rather large chip on his shoulder, and understandably so: his lineage has come into question, and people aren't taking him as seriously as befits a meta-human.

So, to exact his revenge, Dionysus rouses - and arouses - his cult of women followers. Euripides' chorus tells us of lesbian orgies transpiring in the hills, orgasmic frenzies wherein the gals, endowed with super-human strength, rustle cattle and rip them limb from limb, splattering bloodied bovine organs over their nude flesh. Thoughout the empire, cities are burning.

King Pentheus, dressed in leathers, reacts with a policy born of desperation and insecurity, banning the orgies and ordering his soldiers to arrest as many participants as they can track down. His arguments define the essence of authoritarianism...militarism, actually, dressed in the mantle of reason, of hostility to whatever cannot be logically proved or understood. Add to the mix Pentheus' mother Agave (in a stoically dignified portrayal by Lynn Odell), who is seriously toying with the idea of joining those sexy ceremonies in the hills.

Pentheus has Dionysus arrested and brought captive before him. The God plays along for a while, enabling the two to engage in a little chat, with Pentheus perched on an imposing, medieval-looking throne (designed and sculpted from metal by Michael Russell. In this context, Dionysus - so gentle, even playful - seems positively Christ-like, bound in chains yet speaking of the freedom that resides within. If ever there was a precursor for the Biblical show-down between Jesus and Pontius Pilate, this is it.

After magically breaking free from his shackles, Dionysus appeals to the King's voyeuristic impulses, inviting him to see for himself what the lusty Maenads are up to. In Euripides' play, the climactic scene is merely described, but Mays plays it out on the stage with a bevy of nude nymphs - now including a crazed Agave, blinded by her passion - seducing Pentheus, stripping him naked and wooing him into their circle before literally tearing him to shreds with a horrific feamale shriek. Later, Agave parades around the city clutching her son's detached head, believing she has just participated in a lion hunt. Then, finally, tragically, she realizes what she has done.

There is much to be said for this production, particularly as regards the unsullied motives of his creation. This is no industry showcase (unless, of course, these people are completely out of their minds). In the best tradition of ensemble work, Mays and movement director Kim A. Weild have infused the company with an electrifying vibrancy. Thanks to these lightning bolts, images from Mays' THE BACCHAE linger for days in the imagination."

- Steven Leigh Morris, LA Weekly

"Daring! An enthusiastic spectacle...rooted in a close reading of the ancient Greek's timeless insights into repression and its consequences. Enya meets Roger Corman." - LA Times

"An excellent update of Euripides' The Bacchae, directed by Brad Mays, offers a wealth of theatrical virtues not often seen on stages around Los Angeles. Skillfully incorporating ensemble movement, music and incense, it makes visceral and real the need to give the god of lust his due." - LA Reader

"Narrow-minded, smug, and overly prideful young Pentheus (T.J. Ryan), the king of Thebes, learns a lesson he soon won't forget about disrespecting the god Dionysus (Richard Werner). Dionysus lures the resolutely impious Pentheus to his doom by playing on the youthful king's sexual curiosity - then letting him get torn to pieces by his madly orgying young bevy of sultry Bacchettes. In his ambitious production of Euripides' tragedy, director/adaptor Brad Mays opts for a highly stylized approach and comes up with some colorful and arresting images. Kim A. Weild's graceful, ritualistic choreography - which, along with touches like incense and Peter Girard's moody music - sets an intensely evocative, almost religious mood. Richard Werner's lithe, loose turn as Dionysus conveys both lasciviousness and danger, and Lynn Odell's performance as Pentheus' mother Agave possesses both dignity and a sense of madness. Kudos are also due to make-up designer Andrew Clement, who creates what is undeniably the most unnervingly believable severed head of the year." - Backstage West

STAGE FRIGHT
1989 FILM
"A roller coaster of a little film...pungent and absurdly funny in its broadly satirized commentary of the late sixties." - Winnifred Walsh, The Baltimore Sun

"A low-cost debut feature, "Stage Fright" concerns the backstage quarrels , love intrigues, and artistic frustrations among a hard-working acting troupe within an avant garde storefront theatre in Baltimore. Greg McClure as Broderick, the theatre director, has a certain flair. Susan Rome is Lori, the one character of spirit, who leaves Baltimore to follow her star and become one in Hollywood. Marcy Emmer as Frannie scores as an eccentric, hyperactive bisexual." - Hitch, Variety

"The most authentic evocation of 1971 I have ever seen on film." - Wendy Lidell, International Film Circuit

"This is a good film...a necessary peek into what went wrong with the 60's generation. Well written, fine acting, very believable." - Baltimore Film Forum

JOAN
(LA Production - 1991) THEATRE

"If a cat may look at a king, then surely a playwright may make yet another stab at the beckoning, incredible story of the wondrous adventures, accomplishments, character and tragedy of Joan Of Arc, Maid of Orleans, no matter how many and how prestigious are the plays, playwrights and actresses who have gone before, Shakespeare himself referred, scurrilously, to the French saint and national heroine as a wicked perpetrator of witchcraft and sorcery. Shaw made up for that with his deeply appealing and moving rendition enshrining Joan and humanizing her at the same time. There's always a play or a one-woman portrayal of St. Joan going on somewhere.

Now in its world premiere we have Linda Chambers' ambitious, intense and literate play at the Shakesperare Society's Globe Playhouse. It stars Rain Pryor, who is known to countless television fans across the nation for her offbeat portrayal of a non-conformist student in the TV series HEAD OF THE CLASS - and who happens to be comedian Richard Pryor's daughter, which has nothing to with the case but is the kind of thing people want to know.

Chambers and Pryor deserve credit for worthy and courageous attempts. Both are following in intimidating footsteps. Katherine Cornell and Ingrid Bergman are only two of the superstars among memorable Joans. It can't be said that either play or player sheds new light on the fascinating subject but, like the play, Pryor's Joan is clear, forthright, intelligent and distinct.

Staged by director Brad Mays, this JOAN offers an interestingly color-blind casting that is oddly effective. Phillip C. Curry stands out with contrasting portrayals, first as Baudricourt, who comes onto Joan with sexual harrasment and then some jivy lingo - "Lighten up!" and "Be my guest."He is especially impressive and well-spoken as the French prosecutor. David Raynr is contemporary and anachronistic as Joan's jealous brother; as the frivilous, childish Dauphin, he is arrestingly quirky, much like Mozart in AMADEUS, and an unlikely prospect for the French throne. Joan insists he must, and he does, become France's Charles VII.

Steve Welles is wonderfully grim and goulish as the Inquisitor. William Monaghan speaks with admirable clarity as the Church. Allan Kolman acquits himself well as the English Warick, rational man among fanatics. Robin Skye, Zoe Trilling and Tyrone Granderson Jones are Saints Catherine, Margaret and Michael, embodying Joan's angel voices. No longer the angel, red-haired pre-Raphaelite looking Skye opens Act Two with a rousingly passionate rendition of the "Farmgirl's Lament," a song by Christine Humphries and very well sung. Kathleen Pierson's electronic score is a definate asset throughout."

- Polly Warfield, Dramalogue

"Director Brad Mays superbly works the text. Quick and sure...an exotic, explosive performance." - LA Weekly

"Rain Pryor gives a stong dramatic performance as Joan of Arc, the teenage savior of France, in Linda Chambers' allegory, which boasts a fine cast. Strong and dramatic... an interesting presentation. Brad Mays' taut direction keeps the piece moving and the audience alert." - LA Reader

DRAGON SLAYERS
(LA Production 1990) THEATRE
"Human, Gothic melodrama...outrageously soap-operatic" - LA Weekly

"A murderous cult of insane, fish-breeding puppeteers living in Berkeley? Whew! Enchanting...not since the Three Stooges has a group of adults hit and kissed each other so much." - LA Reader

"The most stylish production of the season." - Hollywood Reporter

THE WATER HEN
(NYC Production - 1983)

"This superb production of Polish playwright Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz's THE WATER HEN (Theatre Off Park, 28 East Park Avenue, 679-6283) marks the first time in several weeks that an evening off-Broadway hasn't left me angry, bored or indifferent.

Witkiewicz, who committed suicide on September 1, 1939, as the Russians invaded Poland, uses absurd conventions to enact a tragic universe. Man is a puppet unable to affect his destiny. Essential human relationships are put into question, beginning with those in the family.

In the opening scene, the protagonist is discovered pointing a rifle at his wife, who begs him to shoot her and prove his manhood. Afraid of being alone, he hesitates to pull the trigger but finally accedes, This murder begins the cycle of the play, which ends with another gunshot. What happens between the bullets is an eloquent examination of life, art and destruction, in which characters die and are revivified, knowledge is attained and lost, and everything is in constant motion.

As Edgar Valpor, the man in search of a new life, James Curran is a powerful, pathetic hero. Betty LaRoe's portrayal of the sirenic Water Hen is smooth and elusive - even better for the actress' unusual, husky voice. Tobias Haller is remarkably agile and charming as the boy who calls himself Edgar's son, James Fleming is good as the crotch-patting, would-be intellectual Baron DekorBova-Korbovsky, and as the object of his affections, Linda Chambers oozes seedy pulchritude. The supporting cast - especially Richard Ladd, who makes the most of a tiny part - play with consistent, stylish precision.

The technical staff are no less to be praised than those on stage. Mina Albergo's graphic design, consisting of pastoral photographs and geometric drawings, provide strong background visuals. The lighting by Pat Dignan frames the moments beautifully, creating tableaux of memorable dramatic value. A. Christina Giannini has costumed the cast well, particularly the Albino servants. Finally, Brad Mays holds it all together with masterful comic direction. The messages of THE WATER HEN are many and controversial. What Witkiewicz says about women, Jews, family and the future of the world may rankle you, but two things are certain: You won't go away without thinking, and you won't go away without laughing. Camus said that all great deeds have a ridiculous beginning. The deed, for Wikiewicz, is examing our folly."

- Mark Matusek, NY Times

"A sensuous, mocking look at relationships...arresting. It is a testament to the director that it comes off as well as it does." - Soho News

REQUIEM
(New York Production - 1984) THEATRE
"The poignant drama of a young Irish hunger striker...Linda Chambers' dialogue, filled with the rhythms and idiom of Irish speech is teasing, warm, natural. The realistic and philosophic implications of the hunger striker's death are brought home to us in this simple and well-constructed play, which is well-handled by director Brad Mays. This timely production is a sober way to anticipated St. Patrick's Day."
- The Soho News

AMADEUS
(Baltimore Production 1985)
"Mays pulls it off...a souped-up production...commanding. The cast is tuned like a small chamber orchestra." - The Critic's Place PBS

"Tightly directed (with) impressive fluidity. This one will surprise you. - J. Rynn Rousuck, The Baltimore Sun

HOWARD STERN'S NEGLIGEE AND UNDERPANTS PARTY
(1988 Pay-Per View Television Special)
"Two segments were professionally done: a film short called 'The Gay Untouchables' by Brad Mays and a videotaped seg...in which a homeless man is given his 1st Pay-Per-View a haircut, a shave, a bath, new suit and eventually lands a job... genuinely funny." - Variety

"Unlike anything you've seen on television. A (segment) called 'The Gay Untouchables' is great. Believe me." - N.Y. Daily News

THE BACCHAE
(Baltimore Production - 1980)
"A Euripidean dream come true! Brad Mays dreamed of staging THE BACCHAE for at least two years. Now this classic Greek drama has become reality under his direction at the Baltimore Theatre Company. The production retains much of the excitement, tension and passion the Ancient Greeks must have felt more than two millenia ago during this remarkable evocation of Dionysus. Mays has combined sensitive choreography, rock music, nudity and erotic suggestion into a stimulating production, which lives up to the promise of this theatre founded by Steve Yeager last year. The entire enterprise radiates a conscientious devotion to theatre which can only benefit the community. THE BACCHAE is a profound, ritualistic work with themes which are particularly relevant to the modern age. The focus on dance and body movement serves this particular production well. Any serious theatregoer should find the play worthwhile" - Earl Arnett, The Baltimore Sun

"The most successful production of Greek Theatre I have ever seen...sensuous. It brought Euripides to life." - City Paper

EQUUS
(Baltimore Production - 1979)

"You will find no place more earnest about theatre than Lovegrove Alley Theatre. Tucked in a Baltimore alleyway near Charles and Preston Streets, it is a tidy and appealing space. And dead serious about theatre. Here you will find young men and women trying out their visions. They throw themselves into productions with unchecked intensity. They mean to be very good at what they do. They are blissing out on the process itself. They are testing themselves, proving themselves. This month, Brad Mays is testing and proving himself as the director and co-star of Peter Shaffer's play, EQUUS. If you have not yet seen the stage version, you should see it at Lovegrove. The staging is very effective.

Since I hadn't known his work, Brad Mays was not the drawing card for me. It was Charles S. Dutton, who starred last year in Paul Berman's production of THE GREAT WHITE HOPE at Towson State University. Dutton struck me then as a profoundly talented actor, the kind you don't expect to see hanging around locally for long. But he is still hanging around, and starring in Brad Mays' production of EQUUS. Mays too is very talented. Onstage his delivery is very natural and varied. He must be an enthusiastic director too, or the pacing wouldn't be so tight. The pacing - that all-important element - is professional.

In EQUUS, the pantomimed horses are one of the most beautiful elements of its theatre. You won't be able to take your eyes off Charles Leon Croxton's self-contained grace. Effortlessly, he suggests the lythe nervousness of a leggy colt, clomping his big hooves, arching his neck, tossing his own head on which he wears the gilded tracery of a stallion's head."

"In uptown Baltimore, off of Biddle Street, can be found the Lovegrove Alley Theatre. They've re-arranged the entire inside of the theatre for their current offering of EQUUS, by British playwright Peter Shaffer. I was tremendously impressed with the entire production. EQUUS is not a who-dunnit, but rather a WHY-dunnit. Why did 17-year-old stable boy Alan Strang gouge out the eyes of six horses with a metal spike? Shaffer's imaginative and daring answer is a situation in which sexual passion and religious passion are so hopelessly intertwined the result takes on a horrifying logic all its own. This is highly-charged drama that could easily get out of hand. That it doesn't must be credited to the tight, intelligent direction of Brad Mays, who also displays sensitivity as the tormented stable boy. The conflicts of the parents are movingly portrayed by Rhona Raher and David Keltz, while the questing, intellectual intensity of the psychiatrist is neatly supplied by Charles S. Dutton. Lauren Raher is a breath of spring as Jill Mason, and the rest of the cast are all exceptionally competent. In addition, the spare, functional setting and mood lighting, both by Norman Phillips, contribute imensely to the professional luster of the production. Lovegrove Alley Theatre deserves to be packed to the ceiling for the rest of the run of EQUUS." - The Critic's Place, PBS

"The production is as carefully crafted as Shaffer's script. The set makes marvelous use of the theatre's minimal space and evokes an ampitheatre, a wrestling ring, and a merry-go-round all at once. Brad Mays has directed the action so that it is brisk without seeming rushed. He also does well as Alan Strang (an eleventh-hour disappearence by his lead actor forced him to take on the role). Charles S. Dutton plays Dysart with a fine balance of primness and subsurface hysteria. And, silly as it sounds in print, Bill Fink is quite impressive as Prince Nugget, Alan's favorite horse." - John Strausbaugh, City Paper

THE DEVILS OF LOUDUN
(Baltimore Production - 1976)
"Corner Theatre on North Howard Street is presenting THE DEVILS OF LOUDUN, a play adapted, directged and designed by a 19 year-old director named Brad Mays from a novel by Alduous Huxley. I have rarely seen such ambition. Mays' production has a cast of 22 and is set in the 17th century. The hero is Father Urbain Grandier (played by David Keltz), a randy priest who actually lived in old-time France. As Grandier plucks his way through the garden of French maidenhood, the infamous Cardinal Richelieu plots against him. A group of nuns manuever to get the priest alone in a dark cloister, and young girls come to confession frequently in his moist church. Finally, history has its way and Grandier is burned at the stake before your very eyes. Our film clip is taken from a quiet scene in which the inquisition breaks Grandier's knees with a sledgehammer. (Film Clip) THE DEVILS OF LOUDUN has too much in it, but it's a real historical romance. I enjoyed it in a perverse sort of way, and it will stay at Corner Theatre throughout the month." - The Critics' Place, PBS

LOVERS
(Baltimore Production - 1975)
"Corner Theatre in Baltimore has an excellent production called LOVERS by Brian Friel. LOVERS has two acts, the first about an ecstatic young couple about to be married, the second about a frustrated husband and wife. The play moves from pastoral mood to broad burlesque, taking satirical swipes at marriage and the Catholic church. With only a shoestring budget, Corner Theatre director Brad Mays has successfully revised and restructured the script. The cast is very good, very genuine in their roles. For instance, Sharon Kerin plays the lyrical young girl. I believed her performace, the kind rarely given in local theatre. Corner Theatre is an experimental theatre. Experiments fail far more frequently than not, so they are all the more lustrous when they succeed. LOVERS succeeds on all levels."
- The Critics' Place, PBS

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