Review: The Height of the Storm

I’m back.

After two years of only blogging about travel (check it out over here), I decided I was going to end my silence over here. I continue to pay for the domain and I also continue to see a lot of theatre, despite the fact that I don’t work in the industry anymore.

In all honesty, you’re way more likely to get an honest opinion out of me because I will never be working on one of the shows I see!

Anyway! Last week I saw Manhattan Theatre Club’s production of The Height of the Storm, currently playing at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on West 47th Street. I wanted to see it because Jonathan Pryce is fantastic – the original Engineer in Miss Saigon! And this was a transfer from London and usually, the critics over there are on top of their shit.

It was also the best length a show could possibly be: Ninety minutes, no intermission.

It’s weird how all people who consider themselves “theatre people” LOVE this expression and its meaning. Like, we are the people who LOVE theatre and spend a vast majority of our time sitting in a tiny cramped seat but we also lose our shit over a show that is short and has no intermission.

Is it because of our ever-diminishing attention spans? Quite possibly.

As I was saying, there’s no way that this could be bad, right? But I also had no idea what it was about because I didn’t bother to read a synopsis. Was it about a literal storm? Or was it a metaphor for something else? This is the synopsis on MTC’s website: “For 50 years the lives of André and Madeleine have been filled with the everyday pleasures and unfathomable mysteries of an enduring marriage, until suddenly their life together begins to unravel, and this loving relationship is faced with the inevitability of change.

Well, I’m glad I didn’t bother to read that before I saw the play either because that wouldn’t have helped me at all.

To be quite frank: I have never been so confused during a play (this includes at off-off-Broadway shows and the Fringe Festival) as I was during The Height of the Storm. My friend, with whom I was at the theatre, looked at each other multiple times, mouthing, “What is going on?”

It was like a not-scary version of the movie The Others but you never actually found out what was going on.

At times it was implied that Pryce’s character had passed away.

At times it was implied that Atkin’s character had passed away.

At times they were on stage together, and they were both alive with their children.

I tried to look for subtle shifts in the lighting or slight costume changes that could signify when someone was physically present in a scene, as opposed to a ghost on the sidelines. But I couldn’t spot anything to give any clues.

When I Googled reviews of the play, I read that it was about dementia and aging. Okay, that makes sense. Sort of, I guess. I don’t know.

BUT on a more positive note: everyone onstage gave fantastic performances. Jonathan Pryce was amazing. Eileen Atkins was extremely moving. Lucy Cohu, Amanda Drew, James Hillier (who you’d recognize from The Crown), and Lisa O’Hare as their children and one of their child’s spouses also gave nuanced performances.

Unsurprisingly, I’m going to say this play is not for everyone. It is probably only for dedicated theatre-goers and even then, please do your research before you go so you have some idea of what’s going on.

If I missed a huge plot point somewhere, please let me know below in the comments. I’m more than happy to admit I’m wrong when it comes to my interpretations of theatre, or to even be told what this show was truly about.

Playbills For Sale

I have a handful of Playbills that I found while cleaning out some storage in my apartment and I’m selling them to make some extra $$ while I’m doing yoga teacher training. They are as follows…

  • The Cripple of Inishmaan (1x with Daniel Radcliffe!)
  • Hedwig & the Angry Inch (3x OBRC with Neil Patrick Harris)
  • Closer (1x from The Lyric Theatre in London)
  • Chicago (1x Broadway, 2002)
  • Rent (1x Angel Tour, September 2000 at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts)
  • Rent (1x Broadway, January 2000, 1x November 2004)
  • Rent (1x Broadway, 4000th performance with sticker!)
  • Merrily We Roll Along (1x City Center’s Encores – feat. Lin Manuel Miranda!)
  • American Idiot (2x tour in Boston, January 2012)
  • Waiting For Godot (1x Broadway feat. Patrick Stewart, November 2013)
  • Fences (1x Broadway revival feat. Denzel Washington, May 2010)
  • Murder Ballad (1x off-Broadway, June 2013)
  • The Pirate Queen (1x Broadway, April 2007)
  • Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang (1x Broadway, August 2005, 1x April 2005)
  • Evita (1x Broadway Revival, April 2012)
  • The Boy From Oz (1x OBC with Hugh Jackman November 2003)
  • The Crucible (1x 2016 Broadway Revival)
  • AIDA (1x Broadway 2003)

I’m selling these for $10 each, including shipping. Send me a message if you’re interested! 

The Encounter // 10.4.16

Last Tuesday I saw The Encounter at the Golden Theatre on 45th Street. Transferred here directly from London and a tour, I had literally no idea what to expect so I was super surprised to see headphones on every seat when I arrived. Conceived by (and sometimes performed by) Simon McBurney, the first line in his note to the audience in the Playbill is, “We only see the version of the world that we want to see.” How true is that?! Having spent the last week or so reading Gabby Bernstein’s book, The Universe Has Your Back, I was totally onboard with the fact that what we concentrate on is what we manifest and see in our lives. I was into this play so far.

It was a Tuesday night, so Richard Katz was stepping in for McBurney. We took our seats, put on our headphones, and Katz came out and began the show. The first part of the show was was about how our brains assume a lot and fill in gaps with what we think is most logical. There’s a standing microphone onstage which leads directly into our ears, so as he moves around the microphone it sounds like he’s in back of us, or to our right or left, etc. The concept of seeing what we want to see is very Buddhist and I would’ve enjoyed if the entire 90 minutes were about that, but Katz eventually started telling a story.

The story of The Encounter was about an encounter that the protagonist of the story has with a rarely seen tribe in a Brazilian rainforest whom he is trying to photograph. He uses various sound effects and looping machines (which he produces using his own voice or various inanimate objects) to tell a simple story in a very compelling way. I found the beginning part of the story to be a bit slow, but the last half was more entertaining and quicker paced.

Richard Katz is an unbelievable storyteller. I can’t help but wonder how different it would be to see the creator, McBurney, perform the show, too. 

This is an unbelievably creative and unique piece. Clocking in at 90 minutes (no intermission – score!), it’s totally worth seeing. I mean, when else will you be wearing headphones during a show and thus unable to hear a cell phone go off? That alone is wroth the price of a ticket. 

This Is How All The Bret Easton Ellis Novels Fit Together

Someone posted this recently and I was super intrigued. I would think that there are probably other writers out there who have done this but the only one that I’ve read that comes to mind is Emily Giffin. Giffin’s characters are somewhat related in three of her books, but how Ellis put characters from one book into another who supposedly were killed by Bateman in American Psycho is super cool. It actually made me want to read all of his books. But.

BUT.

I’m currently reading American Psycho…. and it’s a painful read. Bateman and his friend’s shallow materialism and his need to identify where every last item on his person came from is dreadful. I’ve been reading it for a couple of weeks now and I’m only 160 pages in (out of 400-ish). I’m starting to lose hope that I’ll finish it. But I think I have to. i know that I’m not required to finish every book I start but I like to. We’ll see what happens.

In other news: American Psycho the musical is getting pretty good reviews from regular people. I know it’s going to be a super polarizing show (not every one will like a musical about a banker who’s going insane and killing his friends) but I read that the first look you get in the show is amazing and so far everything is impressive. Currently it’s super long (just under 3 hours) but I’m sure they’ll cut it down a bunch before April 5th.

Has anyone else read American Psycho? 

This Is How All The Bret Easton Ellis Novels Fit Together

Hey there everyone… theatre nerds, Martin McDonaugh savants, Harry Potter fans… 

TODAY IS THE DAY! Reblog this post, follow me, and tweet about this post and you’ll be entered to win a pair of tickets to see Daniel Radcliffe in The Cripple of Inishmaan

The winner will be notified on March 17th!

All The Way Back in 2007…

When I was studying abroad during the summer in 2007, I saw a play before I came home called “In Celebration” starring Orlando Bloom. I’d never really been an Orlando Bloom fan in particular, but I thought, how many more times will I have the chance to see Orlando Bloom on stage? Probably not many. 

And I was right.. not many have presented themselves. Until now… this fall a new and re-imagined revival of Shakespeare’s classic, Romeo and Juliet will be playing at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.  Orlando Bloom will (obviously) be playing Romeo alongside Condola Rashad (who killed it in last season’s The Trip to Bountiful) as Juliet. The fantastic Chuck Cooper and Jayne Houdyshell are also apart of the stellar cast. 

I am so, so excited for this revival. For one I’ve never seen a professional production of R&J, and with this cast…. WOW! I’ll be seeing it sometime in September and I wanted to give one of you guys a chance to see it too. In the next week or so I’ll be putting together a post to be tweeted/reblogged/etc!

Until then, I leave with you this picture of the charismatic Orlando Bloom from back in 2007:

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I saw Les Miserables on Christmas Day with my family last week. It had a few issues, but overall, it was magical. Les Miserables was the first Broadway show I ever saw multiple times. I knew every word. I belted a kick-ass fifteen bars from On My Own when I was a senior in high school for an audition for Les Miserables (I didn’t get it, but that’s okay). My neighbor brought home an Eponine-esque beret from France which I eventually had Christina Michelle Riggs (a former Eponine on Broadway) sign.  

I appreciated that all the singing was live. I loved seeing detailed scenes, and how disgusting the circumstances were that the poor actually lived in (I didn’t love that, per se, but it was very, very informative). Aaron Tveit and Eddie Redmayne owned their characters, Enjolras and Marius respectively. Anne Hathaway has a much better voice that I initially thought from the first clips we heard of her singing and was wonderful as Fantine. Hugh Jackman, as Jean Valjean, was also great, though his tenor range was a little lacking. And although I’d heard that Russell Crowe completely ruined the movie, I didn’t think he was all that bad. Sure, he couldn’t hold the last note of Stars, but that’s okay. He acted the part well. Amanda Seyfried was enjoyable as Cosette, although she sounded like a hummingbird whenever she had to sustain a note for longer than 2 seconds. Samantha Barks, the only unknown in the movie, was heartbreaking as Eponine and vocally great. Daniel Huttlestone and Isabelle Allen, as Gavroche and young Cosette, were both adorable. Daniel was especially witty, though I wished he had the chance to sing more of “Little People” before being shot.

My favorite song in the movie was, hands down, “Do You Hear the People Sing?.” It was a perfect representation of the people rallying together for change. Very reminiscent of Occupy Wall Street. I would go watch that scene 15 more times if I could. I loved seeing how the barricade was actually built (out of discarded furniture), and I especially loved that the iconic draping of Enjolras’ dead body over the barricade, after the battle, was kept in the movie. 

Aside from the plethora of close-ups, I think the movie was done incredibly well with a stellar cast. I highly suggest you go check it out while it’s in theatres. 

https://www.tumblr.com/audio_file/thatgirlallison/24517052473/tumblr_m56dvd4FAy1qzs9hr?plead=please-dont-download-this-or-our-lawyers-wont-let-us-host-audio

I spent the summer studying abroad in England in 2007. The Saturday after we arrived it was the annual Trooping the Colour celebration for the Queen’s birthday. She wore lime green and stood out on a platform for a while and we all cheered. Today’s her Jubilee, so happy 60 years as Queen, your majesty. 

And I thought the above song was the only one appropriate for today. 

When I was 21 and studied in London for a summer, I took two classes (I totally didn’t go to London to take classes – guilty as charged): Shakespeare and Contemporary British Theatre. My Contemporary British Theatre class was especially fun because it was a combination of a bunch of theatre and non-theatre people.  The athletic jock was in this class as well as the aspiring Shakespearean scholar.

Anyways, one of the plays we discussed at one point or another was Look Back in Anger, by John Osborne, which was groundbreaking when it was written (in 1956) and first performed in England after the second World War. It was the first play that gave birth to the term “angry young men,” the term that was given to Osborne and his cohorts who expressed their anger through their writing.  I came home after that summer and immediately bought and read the play, and I don’t remember my initial reaction except maybe that it was interesting. One of our non-theatre cohorts also said at one point, “Hey, I bet that play has something do with Oasis’ song ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger!’” I went home and downloaded the song immediately too.  

When Roundabout announced that it was going to be apart of it’s season this year, I knew I wanted to see it.  A friend of mine had comps she couldn’t use last week so although I knew I’d have other opportunities to see it and I was feeling lazy, I took advantage of the opportunity at hand and went.  It was staged on the downstage edge (to heighten the claustrophobic feeling of the play, says the director) of the Laura Pels Theatre, Roundabout’s off-Broadway stage.  Imagine a rundown, sparse, disgusting apartment in mid-20th century London and you’ll have a good idea what it looked like. 

Telling the story of a less than happy love triangle, the center of the triangle Alison (played by Sarah Goldberg) is in what is more-or-less an verbally abusive relationship with her husband Jimmy (played by Matthew Rhys), and on the side she is in love with Jimmy’s best friend Cliff (played by Adam Driver) – who is also in love with her.  This side affair is known to Jimmy and doesn’t seem to bother him.  Their relationship is status quoi until one day when Alison’s college girlfriend Helena (played by Charlotte Parry) comes to stay for a night (which turns into a week). 

The direction is interesting as no one really ever leaves the stage, save for a few scenes in the second act. The actors leave the stage, but sit on the stairs and watch the rest of the scene play out. It is unimaginable that anyone could ever stay in a relationship with someone like Jimmy but somehow he’s found two women who contemplate it.  The four actors deliver fine performances that leave us rooting for them (well the non-heinous ones). 

The ending is hopeful, though anything but uplifting. I’m glad I finally got to see this script played out with a great cast with even better direction.  Roundabout has delivered yet another compelling production.