4 - 11 September '04
4 sep [ SUMMER SHORTS Part A Hovey Players TURTLE LANE PLAYHOUSE ]
9 sep INTERNATIONALE! The Ego Show V GREEN STREET STUDIOS
10 sep SAY YOU LOVE SATAN Zeitgreist Stage Company BCA
11 sep HEDWIG & THE ANGRY INCH Liberation! Films CAMB.YMCA FAMILY TH. 88
The "X" in this list is the divider between ten-plays segments, and I include it to celebrate the fact that, though I've only seen 88 Complete Productions so far, if you add in the Staged Readings and "Events" I have indeed broken 100 --- I mean experienced One Hundred And One Nights of Theater here in the Boston area!!! (Thank you thank you, no autographs please......)
But this column isn't built for self-congratulating back-slaps, so let's get to the shows:
What ties most of this week together is three actresses ... well, two actresses and a very uppity choreographer.
I did a re-see of one evening of The SUMMER SHORTS because I had come late first time and missed the first play ... "Your Kiss Is on My List" by Christopher Lockheardt, directed tightly by Gordon Ellis.
And so, when Nora Jane Williams asked, in the bar after the show, "What did you think of it?" All I could do was look puzzled. Now, I have an answer: I liked it!
Michael P. Soulios played a man waiting for a bus when a woman (Guess who!) walked up and offered "You can kiss me, if you want." And she admitted she'd said the same thing to 186 other men so far, keeping a notebook of her appraisals of every kiss. And, of course, he wants to know where he falls in her ranking.
This is a classic ten-minute form --- throw two unlikely people together and give them something to talk about --- and this one unfolded neatly and wittily, giving each actor a chance tosurprise or be surprised by each turn of the discussion. I think, though, the impact of the show hinged on casting a tall, plump Soulios opposite a small, self-assured Williams --- who controlled the action throughout. (I just moved the word "intense" out of the description of Nora Jane. I wanted to save it to modify the word "grin" here.) What you notice about Nora Jane Williams is the intensity of that fresh-faced grin exploding under the floppy green hat she nearly always wears off-stage. She grins with her whole body, throwing all of herself into the moment, and she "reads" young. I saw her play the young genius in Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia" at Hovey Players, and now this. She's one of a whole troupe of under-utilized young actresses plunging into The Big Apple because there's not enough work for them here in Boston. I wish I could find an argument that might make her stay, but I can't even convince myself. She goes Toward, I hope, and I hope when she looks back, she can smile.
Just about everything I've said about Nora can be said of Angela Rose, whom I saw first in "Prelude to A Kiss" at Arlington Friends and "Crossing Delancey" at Hovey Players, and then in a program of neo-Greek plays that Essayons did at the BCA. She played the oldest-friend of the gay protagonist in Zeitgeist's "Say You Love Satan" by Robert Aguirre-Sacasa --- a guy who finds out his newest hot trick (Brian Turner) is, indeed, The Devil, while his nearly-saintly interne-boyfriend (Alexander Albregts) tries to "understand" with Jeff Zorabedian playing ... everyone-else. The dialogue here was quick, quippy, with-it and fun, and Director David J. Miller, as usual, saw to it that audience as well as actors enjoyed themselves.
Angela Rose is an intesely honest actress. I mean, she seems to throw her open-yet-sceptical self into a part so that every gesture and reaction is what you might expect of her off-stage --- only, perhaps, a little more intense. Her sharp little face is always alive, curious, accepting yet questioning at the same time.
For this play she had to project her Self through a breezily critical "self" that fit her about as well as her exaggerated heels did her often bare feet. But on stage she seems never to Pretend but to Be --- as though she hasn't made up her mind yet who she wants to grow up to be --- if she must grow up at all.
But plays seem to find her (She spent a summer as a park-ranger living on one of Boston's harbor islands and reading a lot), even though her main focus these days is as producer of an underground film.
Nicole Pierce is like neither of them.
She is a serious choreographer willing to throw her company into solidly serious modern dance, or satire, or slapstick, all with depth and intensity. Every year or so her company does another version of The Ego Show, with either a theme ("Death" last year) or something of a plot holding the pieces more or less together. This year's version (their fifth) called "Internacionale!" had a trio of men in dark glasses and heavy shoes popping up in various world capitols trying to catch Nicole with a stolen ring. Their acting was, mercifully, minimal.
The dancing, though, was deservedly the main focus.
The Green Street Studio is a big square space with eight or ten risers-full of seats at one end, giving the dancers lots of room, and Nicole saw to it that most of her half-dozen-odd pieces had the company using every inch of the space. In fact, space itself seemed to me to be her major material. Dancers spaced in several rows had identical movements rippling through the group as often as in unison, with jumps or falls or sweeps repeated in various ways. Despite the fact that Nicole herself danced in most of them, no one stood out. Apparently she likes dancers who can do everything she can herself, so that she can bury herself in the whole.
And that is even more odd since, as she took caustic glee in iterating during a mostly improvised talk to the audience, "It's called 'The Ego Show' because it's all about ... ME!"
The Ego Shows give too few performances (two in this case) but shouldn't be missed.
After missing two different productions of Hedwig And The Angry Inch, I'm afraid I expected it to be a little better than it turned out to be. For this Liberation!Films production, Adam T. Rosencrance played a cross-dressed demi-castrati trying manfully to out-shout the over-amplified drums of "her" back-up band, insulting her slummily-togged "husband" (played by Melissa Kaplan), and explaining the tawdry extremities of her unlikely life in extended asides between very loud songs the lyrics of which barely survived the noise.
But then, I'm much more a mouldy-fig than a Mod or Rocker, so who am I to judge? I did feel that Rosencrance danced (pranced would be a better description) with a leaden determination that seemed to indicate why Hedwig's band is a distant second-banana to her former lover's group --- having a triumphal revival the very night The Inch tries to start its own triumphal-revival tour. I was never sure whether Hedwig's assertion that she wrote all her ex's hits could have been true or false, or whether the heavy performances were intended to underline the distance between their actual performances and their inflated opinions of them.
But, as I say, who am I to judge? I'm still hoping someone will make a musical out of the life of Bix Beiderbecke, and I'm the one trying, by putting with fingers in his ears, to hear the lyrics --- to Rock songs!
( a k a larry stark )