Between the 26th of August and the 7th of September, I saw only one play. Since that date, I have seen TWENTY-NINE, and I have scheduled eleven more between now and the NETC Bash on 11 November. And most of the stuff I've seen this season has been noteworthy so far as quality of play and production. This is a Banner Year for theater in and around Boston!
I found myself explaining to someone yesterday that "I can see all the plays, and write something about most of them, but sometimes Thinking about what to write takes up too much time; then there's that eating and sleeping shit I have to fit in somewhere....."
So a lot of Odds & Ends have been ignored while I was concentrating on my close-up view of The Grindstone. This, then is catch-up...
19 oct [ THE LARAMIE PROJECT (Dress) NEWTON SOUTH HIGH SCHOOL ]
This WASN'T "covered" originally, and this is an apology for the oversight.
I was really impressed by the dedication and the expertise that Director Nancy Curran Willis had to work with when I saw this dress-rehearsal. The high-schoolers looked their ages, and sometimes Sounded their ages, but again and again in this huge-cast show I saw accurate characters excellently played, and an over-all awareness of the shape and importance of the play. And the one small detail I saw created that very afternoon --- the huge curtain-call --- was so crisp, so precise, and achieved So Quickly that I understood how easy it must have been for the director to get such good work from so many people.
The cast, the student body, the school and the city were given an object-lesson in the wider-world necessity for such a play as this. But as the dress came to an end, I was confident that it wasn't the star-turn of a relative nor the police or possible protesters outside that would concern the audience. It was The Play Itself, performed as well as it could have been. I was impressed.
QUOTES FROM THE TRAGEDY & COMEDY MASKS:
"The only response to despair is beauty."
I don't know who it was I heard saying that over NPR. But it answers the continual complaint that "You only like things that are Depressing!"
No, but I am uplifted by things that make suffering comprehensible. Everybody "loses" --- everybody Dies. But it is possible for Art to make those defeats ... yeah, Beautiful. Tragedies remind people that lives end, but they also remind people that living those lives can be Worth It.
"Surprise is at the heart of comedy."
George Carlin said that to Terry Gross on a "Fresh Air" program. Again, it is a better gloss on the genre than the observation that a lot of jokes are insulting or in a sense violent. And maybe it implies a difference between comedy as an art and humor as an outlook.
I laugh at a lot of things that others don't think "funny", and sometimes it is indeed a giggle of surprise at how Bad Things Are. As example, I still wear a button saying "Beat Bush" that nearly everyone seeing it (often total strangers) tells me "I like your button!" When things in general get so bad that nothing any one person can do will set them right, what else can I do but laugh?
THE "Carol Mulroney" REVIEW
Single out any detail, any individual contribution, and the work deserves praise. The roof-top set and the twinkling background are breathtaking. The actors' performances are achingly dead-on. The shaping and organizing of each scene and each line and each phrase are sculpturally flawless. Even the poetic writing and the insights into unexpeced characters are moving.
But there's just no PLAY there.
My review quotes, in toto, the suicide note left by the title-character's mother. There was no explanation of any of the why's in that note. After first thinking "Okay, you've given us all the Subtexts, when is your PLAY going to start" and then noticing that my attention was focusing not on the story, but the different colors I could see in some of the stars I knew were, earlier, pure white --- at that point the interest in each polished gem of a detail was overwhelmed by a disinterest in the play in its totality.
I welcome anyone seeing the show to disagree, but my review stands.