Once or twice, or occasionally, you've had your nose bleed, right? Happens to most people once in a while. A cold knife-blade on the back of the neck is supposed to make it stop, or help it stop. Just some quick re-adjustment in blood-pressure or something; a few minutes with your head back and you're fine again.
But have you ever crouched over the sink with the cold water rushing --- cold water's better on the neck than a quickly-warming utensil, right? Besides, it washes things down the drain --- watching bright arterial liquid stream so fast and uninterruptedly you expected to bleed to death through your damned nose? Ever tried to maneuver a wooden clothespin tightly over the bridge of your nose to stay the flow long enough to reach the emergency-bell while trying not to spatter the entire bathroom floor with big, bright splashes? Ever felt the hot flow rush back into your mouth whenever you lifted your head --- fast enough to maybe drown you if you didn't swallow that warm, salty stuff fast enough? Ever had three trips to B-I Emergency in four days --- two of them ambulance-rides over the rumbling roads of Mayor Menino's Boston? Ever had your nose re-packed with gauze soaked in vaso-constricting fluid and started home only to feel the red faucet re-open while taking a pre-emptive piss and, instead of facing the cold, getting re-admitted for yet another damn try?
I am, though I hate to trivialize the phrase, in remission at the moment. I'm supposed to keep from touching my snoot --- or getting the packing wet if I try to shower --- for five bleepin' days before they'll even unpack and look inside to see if some sort of snottish surgery's necessary.
Merry Ghodamned X-mas, friends!
Now let's get back to Theater:
I must confess I've "been on Walkabout" for nearly two months now --- playing hooky, I'm ashamed to admit.
Lately it's been the damn nose, but early in November I got interested in That BOOK of mine; I did none of the work of preparing a PDF of the text nor the JPG of the cover --- a heroic friend endured my meddling on all that --- but conferring and answering questions took up the majority of what I laughingly call my mind until the first few copies plopped out of the Harvard Book Store's espresso-books-machine. (It looks a lot like a machine giving birth; you ought to watch it happen!)
But though I had little brain left to think about reviewing, until the Red Sea started up I got to see a lot of plays: technically, 210 if you count readings and an occasional theatrical party --- though actual productions with more than one-night-stands come so far to only 194 plays since last January.
I really hoped to break 200 this year --- something I did only once, back in 1971. Of course, after establishing that record I had what amounted to a nervous breakdown the next year, and never got "back to work" again until the Theater Mirror started back in '95. So maybe I should superstitiously let sleeping records lie unchallenged.
However, my giving in to human weakness (or is it really just sloth?) means, often, that excellent work someowhere in the local stage goes tragically unheralded and unsung. And I started the darn website in order to help prevent that very thing from happening. I owe a lot of very good friends attention directed on the excellence of their work as well as apologies for saying nothing in print --- though I hope they realize that, talking to people after final curtain, I don't lie about my opinions or insincerely praise anyone. I just haven't run those comments across my keypad lately. Let me pick out a few highlights:
8 nov "THE SALT GIRL" Boston Playwrights' Theatre 176
I think I did manage to write a very garbled and inadequate review of this amazing new play. A very personal exercize, I think it could have bewildered as many in the audience as it astonished. But John Kuntz has an astonishing talent for making (or performing) excellent theater and I think myself lucky enough to have lived at a time when I can watch him grow.
And in this show he found in Adam Stone a creative Video and Sound creator whose imagination and inventiveness is a match for his own. Boston is doubly blessed...
19 nov "IN ON IT" Whistler In The Dark @ THE FACTORY 181
But Boston is also blessed with exciting Directors, and Meg Taintor is high on my list of these. Again the play, by a Canadian named Daniel MacIvor, probably generated more questions than answers. Scott Sweatt and Joe Lanza probably played two people rehearsing a play, or writing a play, or improvising on a play they're performing --- or creating, or maybe they're falling in love? As director(s?) Meg and Jennifer O'Connor neglected no possibility; and the actors dealt directly and sincerely with every nuance. The Whistler in The Dark crew has been surprising and delighting me for four years now, and their open cooperation with other groups is part of a somewhat unnoticed "grass roots" revolution enflaming the fringes of theater here in my city.
21 nov "THE REAL THING" Hovey Players 183
I think some of my old friends in Waltham may have thought I had developed some sort of grudge against them since I missed a couple of productions entirely. Not true! Their production of this Tom Stoppard romp was, well, average --- and on their Abbott Memorial Stage that always means Excellent! It's almost as though they know I love back-stage stories and that Stoppard is maybe my favorite playwright, and instead of trying to cadge a ride I managed to get to the theatre by the #70 bus. Not, though, for a press opening. I'll try to be better come January...
28 nov "TRU GRACE: HOLIDAY MEMORIES" Underground Railway Theater CENTRAL SQUARE THEATRE 186
Wesley Savick was brave enough to direct one play (based on a story by Grace Paley) with only six adults (three actors, each doubling) but with two platoons of seven kids each, also doubling --- a big story of mainly Hassidic school-kids all cast in their grade-school's Christmas Pageant --- and for his second added his own stage-adaptation of Truman Capote's story "A Christmas Memory". But The Underground Railway Theatre makes an ingenious habit of using novel props and sets and swift on-stage changes and expressive shadows to tell great stories. After the kids did "The Loudest Voice" Debra Wise and Michael Forden Walker played young Truman and his 60-ish lady friend Sook in a story-theater style that I thought deserving of an IRNE Award. We shall see...
4 dec "MOONLIGHT AND MAGNOLIAS" Arlington Friends of The Drama 187
Another Award contender in my mind was this startlingly funny re-creation of Producer David O. Selznick (Gordon Ellis), Director Victor Fleming (Kendall Hodder), and Ben Hecht (Judson Pierce) spending a whirlwind week writing a script for "Gone with The Wind" --- with Anne Damon peeping in repeatedly as Miss Poppenghul the secretary. Nancy Curran Willis directed this beautifully bombastic extravaganza that both villified and complimented Hollywood by turns. This serious/slapstick show made me wonder whether the IRNE as Best Production has ever been given to a comedy? This seems to me as good a time as any, and the work was amazing!
5 dec "A QUESTION OF MERCY" Boston Center for American Performance HUNTINGTON 189
I knew David Rabe (I once went to his Pennsylvania home to interview him) as an eloquent, theatrically inventive playwright using his experience in Vietnam to craft the plays "Sticks & Bones" "Streamers" and "The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel". He said he'd only speak of his experience in 'Nam with soldiers who have had similar experiences there. This play, however, tackled the problems involving an AIDS victim so tired as to ask his friends to help him commit suicide. The Director of The B.U. School of Theatre, Jim Petosa, directed this stunning production involving teachers (Paula Langton, Tim Spears, David Gamm) and students (Brittany Boothby, Colin Meath) with a largely student backstage creative crew. The show was riveting --- exhausting! --- to the extent that a stunned audience found itself for a moment unable to applaud.
10 dec "AN IDEAL HUSBAND" Bad Habit Productions @ DURRELL YMCA FAMILY THEATRE 191
This play includes Oscar Wilde's glittering dialogue but his well-made and predictable plot; to the point that it plays second-fiddle to his classic "Ernest". But for this Bad Habit Production Director Daniel Morris used a quartet of actors (Sasha Castroverde, Tom Giordano, Adam Kassim and Ann Waldron) each to play three different characters of both sexes (Costume Designer Wendy Misuinas and a run-crew of four providing instant changes) --- and, at one point, with all four actors bopping on and off each playing the butler Phipps! Laying this tour-de-force over a solid reading of the script gave something intriguing for the audience to concentrate on whenever the dialogue thinned and the plot showed through. An outstanding triumph!
These and the shows listed below have given me an Xmas-package of delightful memories for this, the longest night of the year. And, as a hollyberry to top it all, Beverly Creasey sent me a disc of the movie "De-Lovely" which induced tear-ducts to lubricate my still-packed nasal passages in what I think is beneficial showers!
So, Merry Xmas to ALL, and to all a Very Good Night!
(2:13 a m)
8 nov THE SALT GIRL Boston Playwrights' Theatre 176
13 nov A TALE OF TWO CITIES Wheelock Family Theatre 177
14 nov HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH Blue Spruce Theatre @ ARSENAL/NEW REP BLACK BOX 178
15 nov MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING Brown U Trinity Rep PROVIDENCE 179
18 nov A CIVIL WAR CHRISTMAS Huntington Theatre Company 180
19 nov IN ON IT Whistler In The Dark @ THE FACTORY 181
20 nov MACHINAL Boston Conservatory @MIDWAY STUDIOS 182
21 nov THE REAL THING Hovey Players 183
22 nov THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISSOCIA Apollinaire QUINCY 184
27 nov RECKLESS SpeakEasy BCA 185
28 nov TRU GRACE: HOLIDAY MEMORIES Underground Railway CENTRAL SQUARE 186
29 nov DEATH BY CHOCOLATE Mike Dorval BCA 187
30 nov [ TWO THORNTON WILDER PLAYS Reading COMMONWEALTH SHAXPY @ BCA
4 dec MOONLIGHT AND MAGNOLIAS Arlington Friends of The Drama 187
5 dec CLUE Riverside Theatre Works 188
5 dec A QUESTION OF MERCY Boston Center for American Performance HUNTINGTON 189
7 dec WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS George Watsky SPEAKEASY STAGE @ BCA 190
9 dec WOYZECK Brown/Trinity PROVIDENCE 191
10 dec AN IDEAL HUSBAND Bad Habit Productions @ DURRELL YMCA FAMILY THEATRE 191
11 dec THREE UnWISE MEN 11:11 Theatre FACTORY THEATRE 192
12 dec [ TRU GRACE: HOLIDAY MEMORIES Underground Railway RE-SEE ]
16 dec RADIUM GIRLS B.U. Stages @ BCA 193
17 dec A CHILD'S CHRISTMAS IN WALES Boston Playwrights' & Boston Children's T's @ BCA 194
( a k a larry stark)