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Plays - Qualified Perceptions
firstfrost
firstfrost
Plays
Talley's Folley was very nice. dpolicar got the meat of the dialogue, and I found both the character and the portrayal utterly charming. For chanaleh, I liked the portrayal better than the character - by halfway through the play, I had far more sympathy with Matt's frustration at Sally's evasiveness than I had sympathy with the evasiveness itself. I do not trust her to play straight with him after this point, and I think he deserves someone who will. Ah well - they're both fictional and I really shouldn't get too outraged on his behalf. And, as an utter non sequitur, if there is anyone who has more perfect legs than chanaleh, I have not had the opportunity to observe them at such a near distance for the greater part of ninety-seven minutes, and thus have not had previous cause to be so impressed.

dark side of the moon, at the ART, was fascinating. This was the second in a row at the ART to be a one-person show (The Syringa Tree is coming back in the summer, and I highly recommend it...). Between those two and Fully Committed at the Lyric and Us at the BCA, I've seen more solo theater this year than, well, ever. Syringa Tree was minimalist but beautiful - one woman, one swing, and everything else was voice and light. dark side of the moon was... maximalist? Written by someone who thinks in multimedia, and film, as well as theater. Now, I don't normally appreciate adding movie technology to theater - I really didn't like it in Evita, it was just distracting - but here, it was done by someone who thought of the actor as one piece of the whole presentation, one color to the palette, but used the whole set. There was an opening title sequence, just as if it were a movie, and it worked strangely well. So did the rest of it. The final scene: there are a set of chairs lying with their backs on the floor, and the main character pretends to sit in them (but really has his back on the floor and his legs up. Above the stage is a mirror, so the main view is of the reflection, as if it is of the guy sitting, normally, in the chair. Then, as the actor begins to slowly roll around on the floor, it looks as if he is drifting up, weightless, into space. Wow. A bit like the scene in American Beauty watching the dance of the plastic bag - unusual and visually lyrical. This wins the award for Best Use of Lying On Floor in an ART Production.

Pygmalion, as read by desireearmfeldt's friends. We wrote the review for tirinian to post, but since he probably won't: "The actors don't seem to have rehearsed, Eliza's accent is terrible, and there are no sets. Picks up character packet at handout, and then punts on first night because player doesn't have time." But fun. I am, as always, reminded that I envy justom's knack for accent. And, as well, that comic plays are much funnier to hear or see, than to read. We also read through the first half of Talley and Son, which takes place concurrently with Talley's Folly (I wonder if anyone ever stages them simultaneously, so people can wander back and forth between? Probably not. One of those thought experiments better imagined than attempted.) It's a very different play than TF, having such a plethora of characters dashing in and out. And Timmy is dead! Sniff!

Current Mood: happy happy
Current Music: Starcraft battle noises

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Comments
dpolicar From: dpolicar Date: February 21st, 2005 10:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Excellent point about Talley's.

Something that became very clear as we rehearsed it was that the play itself is very much in tension... Sally and Matt are both very broken and very passionate people, and it takes very little to swing the play all the way to one side or the other and make one of them seem like "the good guy". (When it swings the other way, Matt just comes off as this harassing obnoxious geek with no grasp of appropriate social behavior, and one sympathizes with Sally's entirely reasonable desire to make this man go away.)

Which I very much appreciate simply as a fact about the play, independent of our ability to convey that balance in any given performance.

Anyway, glad you enjoyed the show! It was great to see you guys in the audience.
desireearmfeldt From: desireearmfeldt Date: February 22nd, 2005 06:31 am (UTC) (Link)

Now y'all have turned on my directorial mindset... :)

That's a really good point, one I hadn't thought of before.

The trickiness I noticed seeing it as an adult (which I don't think bothered me when I loved this play in pre-high school) is that it's hard to justify Sally's continuing to be *so* defensive about the infertility after Matt's confession. That is, OK, maybe she's defensive enough to think he's scamming her, but ultimately she trusts him enough not to leave, and to start talking about the thing she doesn't want to talk about, and to me that means she's got to mostly believe him. Which makes it seem like she's making a bigger deal out of her pain than is justified--because yes, everyone else she's ever known has treated her like a broken swing because of it, but she knows Matt better than that, we can see she does.

But I *do* like Sally (in general, not just chanaleh's portrayal, and it's never occured to me that she might not deal straight with Matt in the future. I guess because I see the play as being about her being won over into deciding to trust him all the way: at the beginning, she already mostly does, but there's the remaining shell of fear/defensiveness that she can't quite bring herself to get rid of, and that's what changes over the course of the 97 minutes. And the thing is, their dynamic is otherwise quite frank, blunt, and straight-shootin'. That's why they get on so well with each other when they are so out-of-step with everyone else they know. And that's why Sally-in-the-closet is mysterious: Matt knows if she actually wanted him to go away, she'd say so, because she's like that; hiding in the closet is pretty much out of character. So I don't think Sally's going to be prone to hiding in the closet any more afterwards. The point is, she's found the life where she doesn't have to do that ever again.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: February 22nd, 2005 07:06 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Now y'all have turned on my directorial mindset... :)

Hmm. I suppose she may have found the life where she doesn't have to hide. But it seemed to me that her reaction to things getting out of control is to hide, to dodge, whereas Matt's is to drive straight into the heart of the problem and start pushing. So if things never get out of control again, then they're fine, but if some further catastrophe comes along, I'd be suspicious that she'd slip back into her old defense mechanisms.
dpolicar From: dpolicar Date: February 22nd, 2005 07:31 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Now y'all have turned on my directorial mindset... :)

I think Sally is so completely in the habit of assuming that to reveal this fact is to be rejected, that she doesn't even think about it any more. It isn't that she's continually asking herself "Should I tell him?" and inexplicably declining to after his confession... it's that she doesn't even ask anymore. She's alone, she will always be alone, that's just the way it is, anyone who suggests otherwise is wrong, and the reasons don't bear recontemplating because they were fully processed and thoroughly convincing a decade ago and it hurt too much then. Only when she he literally shouts the question into her face repeatedly (the wrong question, as it happens, but fortunately close enough) does that habit break down.

firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: February 22nd, 2005 07:14 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't think you necessarily played it as unbalanced - I think that I have my own biases that I bring to a viewing, as well. I like witty (which Matt is, more than Sally). I don't really mind obnoxious. But evasiveness drives me crazy. So I have more natural sympathy for Matt than Sally, and to counter that you'd probably have to play it unbalnaced in the other direction.

(The thing chanaleh did to make Sally sympathetic despite all my annoyance with her, was smile, with these private fond smiles that Matt couldn't see. That won me back from deciding that she didn't even deserve Matt. :)
dpolicar From: dpolicar Date: February 22nd, 2005 07:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Sure, that makes sense.
And yeah, I keep hearing about those fond smiles. I look forward to seeing the DVD.
chanaleh From: chanaleh Date: February 22nd, 2005 07:32 am (UTC) (Link)
I was going to say that the smiling bit wasn't so much a conscious characterization, as something I do. But then I remembered that it actually was on lillibet's instruction to lighten it up, make it fonder. Bring the affection across. I guess it worked. :-)
desireearmfeldt From: desireearmfeldt Date: February 22nd, 2005 08:23 am (UTC) (Link)
So, my other directorial thought was that I might have chosen to make it, hm, higher-energy? less gentle? in some places. (Not that I didn't like this interpretation, just the major way in which it was different from the one I carry in my head. :) ) I wonder whether this would have exacerbated or mitigated firstfrost's perception. Pro: higher-energy means Sally is more meeting Matt on his own ground, I think--spunk is one of her charms. Con: one big place the energy would go up is in the fights, and that is in danger of making Sally the bad guy, as mentioned earlier.

(I, too, like witty, both on stage and in real life, and will forgive a fictional character much for wittiness. I also don't like evasiveness in real life, but it's a good characteristic in a fictional character, especially when it gets dramatically punched through in the end.)

I agree about the fond smiles, though! :)
dpolicar From: dpolicar Date: February 21st, 2005 10:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, and as far as we know nobody has ever staged TF and T&S on opposed stages; we've contemplated the idea pretty much from the first week of rehearsal. I've never read T&S or Fifth of July (which is set at the house thirty years later, after Matt's death), but recently purchased the trilogy and am looking forward to it.
chanaleh From: chanaleh Date: February 22nd, 2005 04:25 am (UTC) (Link)
*grin* You just made my day, I think.

Also: Timmy is dead?! Oh noes!1!! -- I was sorry to have missed the reading.
dpolicar From: dpolicar Date: February 22nd, 2005 07:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah.
Do you ever wonder when exactly Sally finds out and what her reaction is?
chanaleh From: chanaleh Date: February 22nd, 2005 07:25 am (UTC) (Link)
I haven't given that much thought, actually. I'll formulate more of a guess when I read the other plays. (Soon!)
navrins From: navrins Date: February 22nd, 2005 11:56 am (UTC) (Link)

Utterly useless comment

I don't think I agree with you about Sally.

Unfortunately to go into more detail here would require dissecting the work of people I care about more publically than I consider polite, or revealing a little more about my own relationship history than I'm prepared to do publically, so I won't.

Which really means I shouldn't even bother posting this comment, but I'm no good at holding this sort of thing entirely back.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: February 22nd, 2005 12:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Utterly useless comment

I will note, as well, that I am clearly Wrong about Sally, given the existence of the sequel in which they were married for thirty years.
navrins From: navrins Date: February 22nd, 2005 12:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Utterly useless comment

Well, yeah, but he's dead by then.
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