Monday, March 05, 2012

The Surprise of the Day to Day

So, last week I started reviewing again.  And it has been, as it was before, a revelation.  Live theater, particularly when you go in knowing very little (despite what you assume you know) , can be thrilling.  It moves me and make me feel great.
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Even horrible shows bring emotion up - because I have to review them.  When you are pounding out just to be snarky, you get to be mean and funny.  But when you are trying to criticize in hopes of been taken seriously, you have an obligation to try to be critical but supportive.  No one goes in to launch a failure - or worse a laughing stock.
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Having said that, I saw a couple completely different shows - that I responded to in surprising ways.
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Romeo eyes Juliet and her mother at church.
First I saw an all male version of Romeo and Juliet.  I expected gay or camp - not a straight play.  And I was blown away by it.  It was the first time I remember seeing ALL of Romeo and Juliet.  Before this, my most detailed recollections of Romeo and Juliet were Buz Lurman's or Zieffereli's versions.  Both were beauitful and fluid - but it is the actors or the costumes or the beauty of it that stays in your mind (Baz' was raw beauty - but beauty none the less).  But in this, stripped down version, the words and emotions took center stage.  It was wonderful.  (My review is here.)
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Then I saw "Edward Albee's The Lady From Dubuque."  I love Edward Albee, but this show was massively disappointing.  Worse, I read in the New York Times that, even though this was written during his alcoholic phase, AND he though there were problems, Albee thought reviewers didn't get it and were too quick to judge. (It closed on Broadway after 12 performances.)
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That is a pretty big gauntlet to toss out before the play opens.  And, honestly, the play is a giant hot mess.  Really, and due to the writing.  Despite my loving Edward Albee, and admiring the risks he takes - they just didn't pay off here.  It is a mashup that is both too surreal and way too predictable.  We get it, The Lady From Dubuque is an angel, and angels aren't all nice. (review without spoiler here).  So, even though I loathed it, it did deserve a professional review.  I mean a lot of people put hard work into it.
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I like the challenge of it - and I love the seeing of live theater.  It's bracing too me.  And surprising (to me) that fewer people respond to it with the same adrenaline.  Live theater is, by far, my favorite part of New York.

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