That Was The Week That Was, 17 - 23 February 2005"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


That Was
The Week
That Was

17 - 23 February '05

18 feb TOMFOOLERY Acme Theatre Productions
19 feb FUDDY MEERS The Footlight Club 15
20 feb BLUE/ORANGE Zeitgeist Stage Company BCA 16

I've already done full reviews of "Tomfoolery" and "Blue/Orange" so there's no need to repeat myself, except to say each one in very different ways is worth the money and the effort to see. And of the others, one is closed and I purposely didn't review the other, so there's little purpose in talking about them much. So, after some brief remarks, I'll try to talk instead about a pair of Cast Parties --- that are sometimes the Best part of the evening.


Anne Continelli writes "situation shtick" --- unlikely situations she tries to shove toward (or over) the edge of silly, inhabited by people who never should collide. She's never written a quip she didn't like, would use the word "hone" only to make a bad pun, and enjoys dressing her actor-friends in designer-weird while they over-act her words. She has a deliciously dirty mind, her work appeals to the Camp in everyone involved --- and I usually stop laughing at her avalanches of jokes because nothing much connects them, and as is true of circus clowns, there's never anything Real at stake anywhere. She has a following --- that apparently deserted her when this show moved from the BCA to the Cambridge Family YMCA Theatre, at least the night we were there. I think that, rather than a following, she badly needs an editor --- but no artist has ever taken my advice and Anne is no exception.
("Shut up and get to the parties!")

19 feb FUDDY MEERS The Footlight Club
18 feb TOMFOOLERY Acme Theatre Productions

Unlike most "Critics" I am not afraid of fraternizing with (or of being cold-cocked by any irate) actors. I'm no longer afraid of compromising my "critical distance"; I know I still have a lot to learn from them about the work they do; and most theater-makers are delightful conversationalists. Most of them are friends who have gotten over the impulse to blurt out "And when can we expect to see the review, Mr. Stark?" Since I don't have a deadline anymore I take the opportunity to carouse with cast and crew any time one presents itself.

Now, when I said up there "Cast Parties that are sometimes the best part of the evening" I wasn't at all drawing an invidious distinction between party and play; they are Different Delights. At one, the play and I converse one-on-one; in the other, I get to laugh and listen and talk to Everyone present, separate or in concert. And, usually, I feel I go home knowing a little more than when I came.

I had seen "Fuddy Meers" twice --- but never attempted on a proscenium stage --- before the Footlight Club production. I had screwed and over-booked myself until the only time I had free was closing week-end, and the friend who invited me (probably knowing that my review would be irrelevent to sales) offered me the choice of any date "but if you come Saturday you can make the Cast Party. Your call." (This is a Hard decision???)
She admitted down at the end of the evening that this was a Delightful and friendly cast, and it was a testament to how well we know each other that she gave them to me as a gift --- one I most certainly appreciated!

Of course, about the same thing had happened the night before out in Maynard. I had neglected to read my dance-card opening night and spent a chilly half hour or so at the end of the GREEN line while the director of "Tomfoolery" was waiting to pick me up at the end of the RED one. (I'm 72, remember?) So when she invited me to do "bad Chinese food" and she'd drive me to Alewife after, it was an act of Forgiveness.
These were singer/dancer types, a couple of them old friends from Turtle Lane shows. There's no difference between them and "mere" actors; both shows were comedies (i.e. innately witty people), and after getting all the lines right they all felt free to lay back and perform for one another, while I tossed in an old observation or anecdote or two and did my genuine-curiosity "interviewing" act with people I was getting to know. That's where I do most of my learning.

The Footlight people enjoyed telling of the night a wheel fell off the car people were driving in and the inspired moment of road-repair one member ad-libbed before going back to the script. The Acme crew had backstage tales of all the many quick costume-changes that kept the performers on their toes. I heard legends in-the-making at both parties.

To put it in a nutshell, I don't go to plays Just to schmooze and drink with actors --- but any self-styled "critics" who have the opportunity but Refuse will simply never know what genuine joys (and educations) they're missing.

"And Jesus-God but it's fun!"


THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide