Posts Tagged ‘theatre’

Good grief.

Here’s a show at the Wilma Theater, it got pretty strong reviews, a rave from a colleague of mine over at the Broad Street Review, the fellow who wrote it — Nick Payne — won some kind of British award for it. And this is very mysterious to me, because I think this play is quite terrible, and really transparently terrible, and, maybe worse, prosaically terrible, in the sense that its not bad in some unexpected or extraordinary way, but is instead bad in exactly the most boring sorts of ways that the worst and dullest plays are.

(guys I have so many thoughts about this play, you can read the rest of them here)

In times of strife, sometimes we find illumination in complexity and melancholy. To that end, director Dan Hodge at the Philadelphia Artists’ Collective serves up All’s Well that Ends Well, a rarely-performed Shakespearean “problem play”: A beast neither comedy, nor tragedy, nor history.

Read More at the Broad Street Review

The prevailing feeling of war, maybe more than fear or dread, is exhaustion.  More than a decade into the longest and most wearying armed conflicts in U.S. history, M. Craig Getting directs a heart-breaking adaptation of the western world’s very oldest war story: An Iliad, at the Lantern Theater.

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Cara Blouin

Well, I guess now I’m going to put my petulant little fists on my lady hips and rant about how The Lantern put on an unironic production of The Taming of the Shrew. Isn’t that just so typical? I’ll probably bray about things like agency and consent until everyone is just bored and tired. Listen, I don’t like it any more than you do, but I’m going to keep acting like this until someone finally succeeds in shutting my bitch mouth.

Now, when I was in college I had a boyfriend who said that women who behave this way just need a deep dicking, but I don’t know. I got dicked pretty deep at The Lantern tonight and here I am typing.

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Cara Blouin

I want to say that maybe Rapture, Blister, Burn is the feminist play we deserve, but I’ve been trying not to blame myself for the bad things that happen to me. It’s one of the many struggles that I go through as a living human female, an experience that, by the way, I regularly complain about not seeing portrayed on stage. I like to blame *that* on the glut of white male playwrights who dominate the art. “I am sick,” I whine, “of seeing female characters who are just cardboard cutouts who don’t have real feelings or motivations written by jerk dudes who don’t know what it is like to be a lady.”

So it’s hard to know how to feel about the paper dolls that Gina Gionfriddo has cut out to use as mouthpieces for her barely thought out ideas in Rapture, Blister, Burn. I think it’s worse. It’s one thing to be alienated by someone who can’t understand your experience. It’s a curious betrayal to be alienated by someone who presumably should be able to.

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I am taking a break from expounding my LIFE PHILOSOPHY to talk about some other things, as a kind of intellectual palate-cleanser.  Today’s subject on which I will now go on at length, pulled randomly from the heaps of garbage that I read every day, is this article by Colin McEnroe over at Salon.

For whatever reason, I find I’m always more exercised by running into junk like this at sites I read regularly, as opposed to sites like the New Yorker, where I only once in a while check-in.  It seems to me that not only is the thing itself wrong, but that it’s also a kind of betrayal that they published it in the first place — not necessarily because I don’t agree with it (though, I’ll be honest here — as we all should strive for honesty in every one of our doings — that’s probably a big part of it), but because it seems like the kind of thing an editor should have looked at and said, “Nope, too dumb.  Send it back.”

(Well, I know, it’s Salon, obviously that wasn’t going to happen, come on.)

Anyway, the piece is for the most part some fussy hand-wringing about Kids Today, and I think that all articles about Kids Today should be answered not necessarily due to their merits, but just for the sake of having the counter-argument exist, in the hopes that this generation will, at long last, be the generation that beats back the idea of Kids Today, if not forever, at least for now, a momentary peace in a world constantly under threat.

It’s mostly fussiness, but it takes at its heart Ira Glass’s apparent disinterest in Shakespeare: “I think I’m realizing: Shakespeare sucks?”  And then seeks to take him to task on the grounds that Shakespeare self-evidently does NOT suck, and Ira Glass is somehow representative of a generation of increasingly-stupid children who don’t seem to realize that.

Well.

Before I get into it, let me just be clear: I like Shakespeare, as a reader, as an actor, and as a speaker of English. I’m also GOOD at Shakespeare; ask anyone, I’ve got a knack for this kind of stuff. If I was willing to live a little more in poverty, I could probably work consistently just doing Shakespeare. Shakespeare often speaks to me in a way that I find deeply intuitive and affecting. I have, in other words, a vested interest in seeing Shakespeare maintain his position as the most important playwright in the English language, and in seeing all of us remain idolators to his genius.

But.

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Christopher Durang – America’s most beloved author of community theater audition monologues – has a new play called Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.  In 2013 it won the Tony Award for Outstanding New Play.  It won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Production, the Drama League Award for Best Production of a Play, the Drama Desk Award for Best Play, the Outer Circle Critics Award for Best Play and the Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best Play.  Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike prominently features a Magical Negro housekeeper who has the power of Voodoo.

If, after reading that, you think to yourself, “That’s enough.  This is the 21st century and I have no interest in racial caricatures of any kind.  Nothing in this play could possibly make up for this conspicuous, shameful, and easily avoidable failure; I am happy to condemn this play to company with the rest of the detritus of civilization left behind as humanity continues on its long moral arc, without hearing another word about it,” well, then, I agree with you.  You can ignore this play for the rest of your life, and not be one degree the worse for it; go forth, and be not bothered by Christopher Durang.

In criticism, though, as in life, it is important to be thorough.

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