Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Last Call for Seafarer

The Sunday matinee was packed. Packed. Who knew? I sat next to a nice couple and chatted them up before it started. Turns out, the guy sitting next to me had read with one of the actors, one of the understudies, for his audition last year. He loved the scene so much that he had asked the other actor if he could keep his copy of the monologue. And the actor said, "No way. I need it." So, here he was at the theater to see the monologue he'd mooned over. He'd been in a bunch of plays himself and had done some movie work. We talked. I said, "You're going to love this." Then I said, "You're not going to be able to take your eyes of Jim Norton. No one can." 

How wrong I was. The acting had changed utterly since I saw the play in January. There was so much more going on in every moment. To call the performances freewheeling would understate matters completely. David Morse's shouting was incoherent on multiple occasions. Unrecognizable as speech. And he lifted the chair over his head to throw it, nearly decapitating the stage left set.  The actors were smirking at each other, menacing each other. Conleth Hill had a strange glint in his eye like he'd gone to crazyland, and was inviting the rest of them to join him. He dragged out bits of business, withheld lines for long beats. When Sean Mahon (most improved player) went off to kick the wall, Ciaran Hinds spent the rest of the scene trying to stop himself from laughing. Unsuccessfully. At intermission, I said to the guy next to me, "I'm afraid that one of those guys might don a toga and shout food fight." The guy said, "Yeah. They're pretty happy with what they're doing up there. " I thought: Are you not hearing me? I fear gunplay is imminent. They've gone quite mad. All of them. 

During the second act, I found myself sitting forward in my seat. I was awed and afraid. No other way to put it. The guy next to me also sat forward. The energy kept escalating and became truly weird. And yet at the moment when Ivan runs in with his glasses, I had the exact same thought as before. "Oh, no. It's almost over." That was the only thing that hadn't changed.

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