Friday, February 23, 2007

The show's on Monday, 6:30 p.m. at the Bowery Poetry Club.

We are in possession of several pounds of cheese.

I hadn't remembered that the musical number on Moonlighting set to the Young Rascals's "Good Lovin'" was smack in the middle of the "Atomic Shakespeare" episode. Also, I thought the song was called "Good Love."

When I was a baby critic I wrote theater reviews. Frank Rich was a kind of hero to me then -- I know better now, but still have fond memories of how he trashed Sting's revival of Threepenny Opera (just look at that lede).

I had no idea how to take each play as it came -- I wanted to put them all into a template, check them against some set of ideal qualities of a dramatic experience.

Lucky for me I was woken up to how much I was missing, not that it changed me immediately. At an off-broadway production of Ira Levin's real estate/religion comedy Cantorial, I spent the whole show grumping at what I uncharitably experienced as off-sitcom dialogue, stagey blocking, and hamminess. A veteran theater-goer in the next seat (was he hitting on me? probably) saw that I was taking notes, asked where I wrote, wondered what I thought. I said my piece. He paused.

"What'd you think about the set?" The play is about a couple who move into and renovate a desacralized synagogue. As the action and rebuilding proceed (if I'm remembering this correctly), the set paradoxically takes on a more and more sacred aura. The dialogue, which I heard as hammy, was actually probably just knocking off/paying homage to the Yiddish theater of the lower east side more and more as the play went on. My memory of the piece is foggy and no I'm not going to google it, but at the end the main character transcends schtick and discovers/imagines that he is a great cantor of the turn of the century, reincarnated.

I wish I could say the friendly question made the play click for me and that I wrote a great sensitive review of the piece, measuring it not against an imaginary ideal theater experience, but comparing instead the performance against the ambitions of the script. I didn't. It half-clicked. Mostly I felt abashed that I had missed this great effect.

It's been that kind of week. Oh, and I don't see what people love about Ugly Betty or Battlestar Galactica. Idiocracy would have been great at twenty minutes. I think the Chinese government is onto something -- they do have some experience with Westernizing addictions, right? (Coff.)

That's all I've got.

Jordan - #




I'm Jordan Davis.
I write a lot.
I mention it here.

Say hi: jordan [at] jordandavis [dot] com.

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