"A tech rehearsal is one in which the actors go through the play without wearing their wardrobe or emoting fully. It is done primarily to check for technical problems and the setting and handling of props the actors will use for each scene. There is nothing worse than reaching into your pocket for a gun that isn’t there and having to shoot a protagonist with your extended forefinger—which actually has happened more than once. In summer theater, as a youth, I actually heard an actor shout "Bang!" and the villain fall to the floor after being shot by a barehanded hero."
-Carl Reiner, I Remember Me
So I saw Marlane Meyer’s new play but can’t fully review it because… I left at intermission.
I never do this, but the first act was atrocious. I could not connect to any of the characters or situations. It felt as if I was watching the backwoods residents of Deliverance.
And there was nothing about it that elevated the play above the social status of the characters. No wonderfully poetic writing. No provocative ideas being presented or challenges being worked on. (I had a similar problem connecting with the characters in Adam Rapp’s Ghosts in the Cottonwoods, but there was good stuff there to make it worth my time.)
When the audience is smarter than the characters, it’s harder, I find, to be sympathetic (or, at least, not entirely disdainful) toward them when they make ridiculous mistakes and decisions.
Maybe there was a pay off in the second act. That possibility is why I hardly ever leave during intermission - you never know what redemption (for the play, not necessarily the characters) is ahead. But what I saw in act one was a lot of exposition for stories and characters about which/whom I couldn’t care less. I was so disengaged. (The performances and direction (by Lisa Peterson) didn’t this world premiere production any favors, either.)
Also, there were these weird direct addresses made by the characters throughout the act. (Probably in act two, too.) The characters would be engaged in a scene and then one actor would turn out, look at the audience and go off on a diatribe about some current, real-life socio-political issue. These asides broken up any momentum that might have been building or any groove we all might have been in. Direct address can be powerful, or it can just be bad.
I was (a little surprisingly) thoroughly entertained by Girl Walks into a Bar, an indie dark(ish) comedy from Sebastian Gutierrez. This is one of those movies with an ensemble cast whose characters end up intertwined with one another. Some people find movies like that to be totally predictable. I like the device. Sure, sometimes things are predictable, but I like these flicks anyway.
In any case, I watched this because the amazing Aaron Tveit (Next to Normal, Les Miserables) is in it, and it’s not just a bit part. He actually plays a rather pivotal role, and it’s a bit of a departure for him. Here, he’s loose and playful, and maybe a little bit of a bad boy. It’s extremely appealing (as is the end credits sequence, which sees him and two of his cast mates doing a line dance that requires Tveit to shake his groove thing).
The slightly noir flick features the underappreciated Carla Gugino (The Road to Mecca, Political Animals) meeting Zachary Quinto (The Glass Menagerie) to discuss a job. (The devil is in the details and you’ll have to watch to find out just what the job is.) We also run into Entourage’s Emmanuelle Chriqui as an exotic dancer; the great Robert Forster as a lonely guy; and Rosario Dawson (25th Hour, Rent) and a long-absent Josh Hartnett. (Remember him? He was my jam in the late 90s and early 00s.)
This isn’t some life-changing film, but it’s one of those great-movies-you’ve-never-seen gems. So see it! (It’s available on Netflix streaming.)
I miss this show. I miss being in a room with people and feeling understood and accepted and safe. I miss feeling like I belong and am part of a community.
You know that moment in Almost Famous when Penny Lane says, “If you ever get lonely you just go to the record store and visit your friend”? Yes, I can listen to the record. Yes, I can watch the incredible documentary, Broadway Idiot.
But it’s not the same as being there. In person.
It’s not the same as being in the room with these people. With all those people. Hearing them breathe. Hearing them laugh. Crying with them. Being able to touch them. That’s what is so special about theatre - about any live performance or face to face interaction, really, and it’s something that, no matter how advanced our technology gets can never be matched.
And I miss this show.
A guy sent me a message on OK Cupid and misused “your.” (He should have written “you’re.”) When I read through his profile, I noticed he didn’t bother to capitalize anything or use apostrophes (or any other punctuation, for that matter) where appropriate. Then I got to this prompt and his answer:
Prompt: The first things people usually notice about me
His answer: that im smart [sic]
This is what’s out there, ladies and gentlemen.