Fringe Review for tangleplay, 2014
"tangleplay is exciting and visceral, out of the ordinary and daring. Ever witness three masked men beat each other to within an inch of their lives, or seen an exhausted woman piss herself just inches away from you? No punches are pulled. Ackley and his band of conspirators fully go for it, and the result is fantastic."
New York Theatre Review for tangleplay, 2014
"The design work superbly supports this Alice in Nightmareland premise. Costume designers Ellen Steves and Amy Escobar have ingeniously placed the male authority figures in “evil business-casual.” Fight choreographer Joshua Williamson crafts a Fight Club-esque sequence that is artfully gut-wrenching. Angus Maxwell’s lighting design avoids derivative THX 1138 whites in favor of seductive glowing hues, while John Braun’s electronic soundscapes are a cacophonous rhapsody. Writer/director Ackley unifies these elements with the bravado of a gutsy auteur. "
NY Theater Now for tangleplay, 2014
"I loved the places tangleplay took me and my imagination during its 70 minutes of playing time (and afterward as well, as I thought about what it was leaving me with). I love that my companion at the show and I reached very different but entirely plausible conclusions about some of the key events depicted. Mainly I love that I was totally awake and captivated for those 70 minutes; not a single second was wasted by anyone in that room."
Seattle Actor for tangleplay, 2013
"Steven Ackley (who wrote and directed) has a firm grasp on what is required in order to create a world that is both alien and familiar, and on how easily we forgo our real identities in order to satisfy the demands of others. The theater space is expanded to include the scientists in the front row and us, and we are always assumed to be there as observers of real events taking place before us. "
Seattle Star for boatcanoetubfloaty, 2012
"The conclusion of boatcanoetubfloaty is in the key of retribution (or revenge), the boys making it to land to serve the parents their comeuppance. The reunion begins with a precarious civility, the parents feigning hospitality, the boys wearing inscrutable countenances. When the tenuous peace snaps, however, the resultant carnage is among the most visceral and gory displays I’ve ever seen on a stage, blood spilling across most of the performance space, leaving most of the characters either dead or dying. It’s affecting and disturbing as it is unexpected and earned."
Seattle Star for Vitruvius, 2012
"Vitruvius contemplates a man as he labors on the construction of a sculpture, referential to the cosmos, which dangles high overhead. The installation, comprised mostly of intricate wire patterns reminiscent of orbital paths of planets around stars, is delicately adorned with lighting elements of varying sizes, colors, and brightnesses. The man below, tinkering with an electronic gizmo to affect an undisclosed change in the sculpture above him, speaks clipped commands into a microphone, which initiate further changes from some unseen person or force. Light, humorous moments are born out of his missteps, and are driven home by Maxwell’s clever, deliberate misdirection, a design-reliant sleight of hand. The impression we’re left with is that our character is working to create something that satisfies Vitruvius’ three virtues: something solid, something useful, something beautiful. At times he fails, at times he succeeds, yet the distinction seems to be just this side of moot. We are witnessing an homage to the human pursuit to create beauty–a particular beauty, which finds its source in nature ."
NY Theater Now for boxplay, 2012
"We were treated to a production that easily deserves to sell out. If you’re interested in clever, fun, funny, compelling theatre, get your ticket because if this production is neglected it’d be the shame of the festival. I can’t tell you about the plot without ruining your experience so I’ll stick to the barest marketing essentials: a man wakes up in a box (a white square on the floor), is visited by other people and slowly pieces together who, what, where and why he’s there…and what to do about it. The audience plays a role, too, as does the larger box of the theatre and the even larger box of the unseen, offstage building. It’s Kaspar Hauser meets sci-fi meets reality TV (theatre in this case, thankfully) meets absurdism 101 and it never ceased to surprise and delight me during its 75-minute run time. "
The Stranger for ROAR, 2012
"The people of the boom! theater company are young and mostly Cornish grads, and both times I've attended their performances, the audience has been small—between five and maybe a dozen people, most of whom seemed to be friends with the actors. That would be sad if the work was lame. But boom! produces work that is funny and rambunctious and energetic, so the small houses feel like the fledgling moments of something promising, something Seattle just hasn't discovered yet."
The Stranger for Repeat. Repeat, 2011
"The show is rewarding like a kaleidoscope is—watching it can be confusing and dull at times, but you can sense an underlying logic, and see occasional gorgeousness, in its moving parts."
The Stranger for A NET, 2011.
"Though the action is uncertain, most bewilderingly (and impressively), Boom! has built the theater space so the audience has to walk around to see what's going on. There are chairs, but they're folded up against a wall toward the back of the room. Most of the action happens behind a white wooden wall with slats cut out (small rectangles, big squares) for the audience to walk up to and peer through. By the time the mad doctor has cycled through his experimental subjects—including himself—you won't necessarily know what has happened. But something has happened. Something bizarre. Something you will be glad to have seen."
The Stranger for Taphonomy, 2010
"Last weekend, a small, new theater company called Boom! achieved what ACT and Beattie failed to do: mount a moving, funny, occasionally terrifying play about real people reacting to real mayhem. You enter Taphonomy through a damp doorway beneath the Alaskan Way Viaduct—just a few steps from people reeking of cheap booze, huddling under filthy wool blankets—accompanied by a stern-looking pair in military fatigues, carrying rifles. The walls of the small theater are covered in ominous graffiti—"safe house 5 mi.," "you have to expect setbacks"— while a tall figure in a gas mask looms in the corner."