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Monday, January 02, 2006

2005 Theater That I Didn't Care For
Before I move on to my best-of other media, a few words about one play/performance that I did not enjoy:

Abigail’s Party was a great disappointment—as it was almost certainly destined to be; I spent a good deal of the sixth form “doing” the dialogue with my classmates, one of whom was named Ange (though she was nothing like either Mousy Ange or Take-Charge Ange—I believe she lives with a formerly drug-addicted Britpop star these days), so there was a lot of “Like Feliciano, Ange? Good, inne? Sexy!” Jennifer Jason Leigh was physically perfect for the role of Beverly (it’s no doubt telling that I originally typed “Alison” there), but her voice was just awful. What accent was that supposed to be? Either way, it was all wrong in terms of class and social signifiers—the only thing it had in common with Alison Steadman’s perfect pitch was that it was hard on the ears. Jennifer, sweetie, there’s more to it than just sounding obnoxious. Without any social/class context, the play meant absolutely nothing. Still, it was just extended for the second time.

I gave a C to the preview version of Sarah Schulman’s Manic Flight Reaction, which now feels rather unfair—it was a preview after all (when I saw it for real a few weeks later, it was clear to me that the lead actress hadn’t really known her lines in that second performance of the run!). I really admire Sarah, and I like her work very much indeed, but some parts of the play seemed just too broad—there was nothing to redeem the “character” of the tabloid journalist, and I didn’t care for the flashback with the main character, Marge’s, mother—but I loved the intention of the play, I really enjoyed the relationship between the mother and daughter at the center of the work, and I loved the scene in which Marge reconnects with Cookie, the woman who “opened [her] up sexually” (as Annie Hall might’ve put it), now the Republican-cliché-spouting wife of a Republican presidential nominee. There were an enormous number of things that I liked about the play (and to a lesser extent about the production), but there were also a lot of elements that I didn’t like at all. There were about 10 times more ideas in Manic Flight Reaction as there are in most American plays—but it would probably have been a better work with only four times as many as the norm.

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