Thursday, March 8, 2007

I do not think it means what you think it means

This has been a low-volume week for theatre, arts and culture in my life, and thus a low-volume week for blogging. I know you don't want to hear about my boring work, or my various ailments (apparently there's some sort of mild but pernicious stomach virus making the rounds in NYC), or my wedding planning, or any of the things I've been doing this week besides patronizing the arts.

Maybe you do want to hear some behind-the-scenes dirt on the star-crossed MTC production of Rose's Dilemma, and if so, I direct you to Jason Robert Brown's latest blog entry. His account squares with everything I heard about that show at the time, but adds some intriguing details -- and, most importantly, some lovely music! Plainly, had it been used, his incidental music would have been the best thing about the show. I am looking forward to seeing JRB at Birdland in April, as an end-of-Lent treat. (Given that the Birdland engagement coincides with the Easter Triduum, there's only one show I can make it to, so if you're hoping to run into me, Wednesday at 11 is the way to go!)

I did try to watch The Good German the other night, as I was laid up with the aforementioned stomach bug, but I couldn't stay interested. If Cate Blanchett had been in every scene, instead of every third scene, that might have made the difference, but when she wasn't onscreen I just kept thinking how little I was enjoying Tobey Maguire's performance, and how much the whole project looked like one of those "old movie" sketches on Saturday Night Live. Did you see it? Like it? Get it confused with The Good Shepherd? If someone made a mashup of the two films and called it The German Shepherd, would you want to see that?

And now, a language note: you might have noticed that I used the term "star-crossed" above to describe that famous Broadway disaster, Rose's Dilemma. I've noticed (especially now that I'm spending some time in the stickily "romantic" world of the wedding industry) that a lot of people seem to think that "star-crossed" has something to do with romance and/or romantic destiny, when actually, it means something like "doomed to failure." (My Norton Shakespeare glosses it as "thwarted by the adverse influence of the stars appearing at the time of their birth, which controlled their destinies.") Yes, it comes from Romeo and Juliet -- but recall that the complete phrase is "...a pair of star-crossed lovers take their life." In other words, the crossing of stars is not something that you want to reference on your wedding invitation. (I would suggest that the deep, abiding love of Mickey and Minnie Mouse is also something you don't want to reference on your wedding invitation, but your mileage may vary, as they say.)


Ed said...

I would definitely see 'The German Shepard'!

Anonymous said...

Aheem, aheem, are you really going to mention Rose's Dilemma and not mention your dear roommate Buckshot, who was your sole provider of all things gossip-worthy at MTC? Hmmm?

I do love that JRB blogged about it. I don't understand how he could've "dug the vibe" at MTC, but I'll let it pass. Oh, and I LOVE the Lauren Kennedy bit. It's always about Lauren Kennedy, isn't it, Mr. Brown?

Oh, and P.S. I read Ben Brantley's review of King Lear today, and I have to say, maybe we agree about Rose's Dilemma, Mr. Brantley, but we shall agree to disagree about what's currently going on at The Public. (I mean, is it so wrong to find the humor and whimsy in a Shakesperean drama? For all the noise you made about it, you really should've gave reason for your arguments...)

Mollie said...

It's a date, Ed! I'm picturing a kind of "Shaggy Dog" screwball comedy/postwar drama/government agency thriller. I'm not sure what The Good Shepherd is actually about, but according to IMDb's fantastic new "plot keywords" feature, it involves "Fall From Height/Secret/Death/CIA/Breasts"... and that's just one element of our 2-movie cocktail!

Buckshot, I fondly remember your tales of life at MTC during that dark era -- and I also heard about that show's sad trajectory from someone who auditioned. Believe it or not, I missed the Lauren Kennedy mention (and link) in the blog -- I think I was just in a hurry to get to the music. Or else I just took for granted that it would be there. ;-)

I was kind of convinced by Brantley's description of the Public's Lear (convinced, that is, that I don't want to see it), but it's true, he doesn't seem to have even entertained the idea that there might be some benefit to bringing out the lighter side of a well-known tragedy. I liked the part where he praised Michael Cerveris for bringing "disgust, both angry and sad" to the role of Kent, because I think "disgust, both angry and sad" is a perfect description of the quality/facial expression Cerveris brings to every role he plays. But does this mean you enjoyed Lear? Because to be honest, even if the review had been a rave, I probably wouldn't get to see it. (In fact, the bad review makes my seeing it much more likely, in an availability-of-tickets sense.)

Anonymous said...

I thought Lear was lovely. Brantley may have been right about his "Lear Lite" comment, but to me, that made the play all the more emotionally accessible and relatable. (Maybe I'm just a "lite" audience member...) Lear did, from the beginning, appear to be the sanest character of the lot, and was driven mad as a result of the madness surrounding him. If he started out mad, where would he have to go as a character?

I say, if you get the chance, go see it! I loved the set and the costumes (except for the sisters' too Prom-y dresses in Scene 1) and really enjoyed all of the men's performances (the sisters were, as Brantley aptly called them, a bit "desperate.")

Let me know if you end up going. I'd love to hear your take on it.