Monday, February 9, 2009

Theater triple-header

I saw three plays this weekend, in an attempt to catch up on my theater-going (and Ovation voting duties):
  • The Laramie Project at Westchester Playhouse
  • Pippin at the Taper
  • Fata Morgana at Pacific Resident Theater
I've read and seen the film of The Laramie Project, but this was the first time I'd seen it staged. It is such a powerful play. It's about what happened to Matthew Shepard, a gay man who was murdered in Wyoming. But it's also, more fundamentally, about people struggling with their identity in the wake of an event that challenges their perceptions of themselves. Who are we, that this could happen here? A very, very good question.

Pippin didn't really do that much for me. I appreciated it -- Deaf West did a great job at integrating the signing and singing in the musical, and at selecting a play that could have relevance to the deaf community, when looked at from this angle. But ultimately, I didn't particularly like the music, thought the stage was very empty-feeling for a musical, and didn't care about young Prince Pippin's quest for identity and meaning. Maybe if I hadn't just seen The Laramie Project, Pippin would have felt less like navel-gazing to me... On another note, what did they do to the Taper??? I LOVED this venue before the renovation. It felt so intimate, and the stage so close. Now -- not so much. And I'd heard people talk about the acoustics being worse -- I definitely think they are. A musical should fill the room with sound. Even with the actors miked, the Taper wasn't filled with sound on Saturday afternoon... On the upside, though, the two actors playing Pippin were both fabulous. I wanted to keep watching them, just in a different play.

Fata Morgana was interesting. My friend -- playwright and actor Tony Pasqualini -- was in it, which drew me there. It's an old Hungarian play about a sincere young man who falls in love, for the first time, with his... ahem... experienced older cousin from the city. They have one wonderful night together, then his family and her husband all arrive at the family home -- and he tells them all that she's going to divorce her husband and marry him. It's kind of a coming of age comic tragedy, tragic comedy... Three acts, great costumes, and a sad empathy for the young man who is learning for the first time that the world isn't a simple place and love doesn't conquer all.

I went to Laramie alone, but with Michael and Stephanie to Pippin -- so fun hanging out with them and talking theater and life and everything after! At Fata Morgana, I ran into Bennet Cohon and his wife, and it was great talking with them. Sounds like he's going to be involved with putting up some more one-acts at Write Act this summer (he produced my play The Edge of Ross Island there in the fall). I also ran into a gal who had directed a reading of Catch for me in an ALAP reading ages ago. I really, really have to do the revisions on that play and start sending it out. It is TIME.

In other news, I went to workshop (without pages, bad playwright) and am still dealing with a gas leak under my apartment (argh!!). Busy weekend! I still had time to watch a few episodes of Criminal Minds, though. Oh, cop shows! I can't get enough of your angsty grappling with good and evil.

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