A Little Pinter on a Friday Night

I was asked to administer a survey for The League on Friday night and I was eager to see Clive Owen onstage so off I went. I knew nothing about Old Times, but as soon as I realized it was by Harold Pinter, I knew it’d be pretty incoherent. I have somewhat of an understanding of The Homecoming but I’m quite sure that’s because I studied it in at least a couple of classes in high school/college. I heard it was about a couple and an old friend that they haven’t seen in a long time coming to visit. I knew things would get messy.

Kate (Kelly Reilly) and Deeley (Clive Owen) are a couple living outside London and when Kate’s dear old friend, Anna (Eve Best), comes to visit, she turns the clock back for Deeley. 

Clive Owen, whom I love so much from the movie Closer, was great onstage. Kelly Reilly did her best, but I think her character was more annoying than anything else so that’s maybe why I couldn’t stand her. Eve Best, it must be said, did an excellent job with the material she was given.

Pinter is so incomprehensible, or maybe it’s just me. It was an interesting 65 minutes (no intermission!) for sure. 

I saw Significant Other with Matt last Thursday evening. I was excited because I’d heard Bad Jews was amazing and this had gotten a positive review in Time Out New York. Also Gideon Glick is adorable in any role he plays, so that’s never a bad thing. It was about four friends – three straight women and one gay man (Glick) – and Glick watches his three best friend’s get married off one-by-one as he has an incredibly difficult time with the dating scene.

There are lots of hilarious one (or two) liners (Glick: Grandma, I feel like all my friends are dying. Grandma: Me too…) but I have never felt so suicidal or depressed after walking away from a show. I related to Glick’s character in a huge way. It was also too long. Two hours with an intermission for this? No. There were definitely cuts to make and it could’ve been NMNI. 

Also: the ending. It ends with Glick, along on a dark stage, looking out into the audience where his friends are all dancing with their significant others and he’s alone. I presume he kills himself after the wedding.

I liked it and I’m glad I saw it, but I would never go back. Glick was fantastic and really does his best with this extremely draining role. Go see Significant Other, I guess, at your own risk.

I handled a survey for the Broadway League the Friday before last at Roundabout’s production of On Twentieth Century. I knew Kristen Chenoweth was in it, I’d heard vaguely that Peter Gallagher was in it, and then I learned Andy Karl was also in it. I also remembered Chenoweth staring in a concert production of this about 15 years ago. In the same role. I was a little skeptical.

A love story that takes place on a train from Chicago to NYC, a hack Broadway producer (Peter Gallagher) is trying to get his former love (Kristen Chenoweth) who’s now a huge movie star to do his next show so it’s a hit. She hates (slash loves) him and her new boyfriend, a vapid costar (played brilliantly by Andy Karl) is constantly at her side. 

On Twentieth Century is ridiculous and I was regretting my decision to see it on a Friday night but even I (a contemporary musical snob) was won over the end of it. If you just let go and have a good time, it is just that. 

Cabaret, part deux… aka Cumming a Second Time.

On Saturday the 15th, Kristen and I went to see one of Emma Stone’s first shows as Sally Bowles in Cabaret. I’d broken down and listened to a couple of MP3’s from her first performance and it was a bit shaky but it sounded like she had potential. 

Long story short: She blew us away. She had a totally fiesty, gritty, and strong take on the character which was very different than Michelle William’s. She was totally into and blowing the roof off the title number (Cabaret). She was just brilliant.

I’m going back to see her again soon.

Cumming was great too, as per usual. As was Danny Burstein and Linda Emond. They’re both just so fantastic. 

Like I said, Stone was amazing and I’m going to go see her again ASAP. 

I saw Roundabout’s production of The Real Thing, by Tom Stoppard, this afternoon. I had no idea what it was about going into it and after leaving it, I’m pretty sure I still had no idea what it was about.

Cynthia Nixon, Ewan McGregor, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Josh Hamilton play two couples that get all messy and intertwined. (I think.) It’s also a play where the first act is shorter than the second act. (And when you’re bored to tears in the first act, that’s not a good thing.) The second act was a BIT more engaging though, but I still left a bit confused and really sleepy.

The performances were great, some really emotional highs were pulled off stunningly by McGregor. After the show Gyllenhaal, McGregor, and Nixon all stood in the lobby of the theatre collecting money for BC/EFA. I thought that was pretty cool. Usually the stars are rushed backstage but they were awesome enough to give their time afterward.

I would recommend this show only to say you’ve seen these amazing actors onstage, not for the play itself, but maybe you’re more of a Stoppard fan than I am!

As long as I’m still under 35, I’m going to take advantage of HipTix as I did a couple of weekends ago when I saw a preview of Violet at Roundabout’s American Airlines Theatre. I’d worked on a production of the show during my junior year of college and I loved the music and the show, despite it’s heaviness in religion. I’d really wanted to catch the weekend-only workshop at Encore’s last year but I was thrilled when Roundabout announced it as part of their season.

The star of Violet is really Joshua Henry as Flick. He brings down the house every time he opens his mouth and you almost forget that Sutton Foster is even in the cast. That’s not to say that Foster isn’t great – she is, as she always is, but Henry just steals the show. Colin Donnell was also pretty great as Flick’s partner-in-crime, Monty. 

Violet is simple, not flashy, and beautifully sung by a top-notch cast. Good job, Roundabout. 

Dear Row E, Seat 103:

Today at the matinee of Violet at the American Airlines Theatre, you spent 75% of the performance staring at the ceiling (literally) or sleeping. So then why did you feel the need to whip out your iPhone the second the curtain call commenced to take pictures of performers in the show you just paid almost zero attention to? 

It was obnoxious and your sleeping next to me was kind of annoying. If you don’t like theatre maybe you shouldn’t go?

xo

Allison

As so often is the case in America we’ve been trained to pronounce machinal the incorrect way. It’s mash-in-all, not mack-in-al. This rarely seen play, Machinal, by Sophie Treadwell is on Broadway for the first time since 1928. I’ve been told that it’s produced mostly in academic settings nowadays which is unfortunate because it’s incredible. 

Machinal is about the daily grind of every day life in America in the early 1900’s. Get up, travel to work, do the same thing every day at work, travel home, eat, go to bed. The “Young Woman,” played by the tremendously talented Rebecca Hall, is stuck supporting and living with her mother and she is going out of her mind. As a means of escape, she agrees to marry her boss and have his children. This gives way to a new brand of monotony that she still can’t stand. After a chance run-in with a free spirited man she knows that she has to get out (not to be with him, but just to be on her own) by any means necessary.

Much of the dialogue in Machinal is repetitive, at times rhythmic and at other times monotonous. Rebecca Hall delivers two or three quick paced and seen-to-be-believed monologues which stunned us as an audience.

The scenes are called, in order, To Business, Home, Honeymoon, Maternal, Prohibited, Intimate, Domestic, The Law, and A Machine. Sounds like a pretty machine-like life to me.

The set, by Es Devlin, was jaw-dropping. In a square box that rotated onstage to show different scenes, it truly felt like a cog in a machine was turning. The set was really amazing.

Clocking in at 90 minutes, I think probably more than one person in the audience could relate to Machinal and the machine-like way of life that a lot of people adopt for better or for worse. And why sometimes we need to break out of it.

Hats off to you, Roundabout. This is one of my favorite productions of yours to date.

I’d been meaning to catch Roundabout’s The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin by Steven Levenson for about a month now and being that this weekend was the final weekend, it had to happen. I was mostly drawn to this show because of Christopher Denham. Ever since I saw him in Red Light Winter in 2006, I’ve been a huge fan. David Morse and Rich Sommer were also part of this cast, which was pretty cool to see them onstage too.

Tom Durnin (Morse) is a former lawyer who has just been released from jail after a five year stay and now he’s staying on his son’s (Denham) couch while he tries to pick up his life from where he left off. His crime isn’t revealed until later on and it’s pretty clear that no one in his family wants anything to do with him. In the end, James (Denham) convinces him that he must disappear and start anew (hence the title).

David Morse was really intense and convincing (though admittedly my only reference for his work prior to today is his portrayal as the serial killer in Disturbia). Rich Sommers was good, but his role was probably the tiniest in the cast. 

Then there was Christopher Denham. I love him. I adore him. He is fantastic. He had issues that were revealed in perfect time through the text. He cried convincingly. I just loved watching his character unfold. 

Tom Durnin was a really interesting piece with a great cast (Lisa Emery and Sarah Goldberg rounded out the cast nicely in the two female roles). Unfortunately it closes on Sunday. If you saw it, let me know what you thought!

Broadway’s The Big Knife Will Star Marin Ireland, Richard Kind, Adam Rapp and Bobby Cannavale; Full Cast Announced

I can’t tell you how excited I want to read this yesterday. My favorite playwright…. ACTING… in a play?!… on BROADWAY?! Sign me up. Plus Marin Ireland? Here’s my money, Roundabout. Just take it now.

I wonder how Rapp will be onstage. He’s always avoided having his plays staged on Broadway (he’s been quoted as saying that his audience is the off-Broadway type), so his leap to ACT on Broadway is astonishing. I hope he’ll be great. Let’s be honest, he probably will be. 

And even if he’s not, I’ll love him onstage anyways. 

Broadway’s The Big Knife Will Star Marin Ireland, Richard Kind, Adam Rapp and Bobby Cannavale; Full Cast Announced