Monday, September 8, 2008

Obligatory joke about Explaining It All For You

In the newest issue of Commonweal: my review-slash-critical essay on Christopher Durang's The Marriage of Bette and Boo and the current -- er, make that "recent," since it closed yesterday -- Roundabout Off-Broadway revival. Looks like it's too late for a box-office bump, which is just as well, since the web version of the article is available to subscribers only.

Much of what I wrote focuses on Durang's artistic relationship with the Catholic Church. Look for a hard copy to find out more! Here's a taste of what I said about the Roundabout's production:
Not all the cast members seem comfortable in the play’s world. Bette’s sister Emily, played by Heather Burns, is too one-dimensional, constantly hysterical to the point of tedium. The other sister, Joan, is a grouch, but Zoe Lister-Jones makes her incongruously sarcastic where she ought to be simply bitter. And Matt’s earnest speeches tend to drag, while a few come off as wan stand-up routines. But Victoria Clark is a marvel as Margaret, straining to keep smiling through one tragedy after another, and she is nearly matched by Julie Hagerty’s giggling, heartbreaking Soot. With a subtle shift of the eyes, Christopher Evan Welch carries Boo from earnest young bridegroom to middle-aged, addlebrained drunk, surveying his failures with a haunted stare. And Kate Jennings Grant steps nimbly through Bette’s distracted monologues, gradually adding depth until her nonsensical prattling seems pitiful and real.
I also said Terry Beaver was "splendid" as Father Donnally. That reminds me... I already told you about the dreadful behavior of the first audience I saw the play with. I saw it again, weeks later, with a much more attentive audience -- including an elderly priest! In his clerics! I wonder, would I have seen that in 1985?

P.S. I didn't know my Commonweal piece would be called "Bleak House" till I saw it in print. But it's a good title, not least because it echoes one of my favorite Durang jokes, from the Woman's monologue in Laughing Wild:
"My favorite book is Bleak House. Not the book, but the title. I haven't read the book. I've read the title. The title sounds the way I feel."

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