Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Shining City, part II

The play was marvelous, except for the three oldster ladies who sat behind us. We sat in row two, so they sat in row three. And still, one of them couldn't hear the dialog. She kept saying loudly to her companions, "What? What was that?" And then when the line of dialog was repeated to her, "She said, 'Are you breaking up with me?'" so loudly that we couldn't hear the ongoing scene, the little old lady would comment on that line. "Well, what does she think he's doing?" 

And, And, at the end of each scene, she'd give us the color commentary on the acting. The acting! Because when you are talking incessantly over the dialog, you are, by definition, an expert in the acting. "Oh, that young man is very good," she said at the end of every scene in which actor John Judd appeared. "That was some very good acting," she said again, for emphasis. (By the way, Judd is stunningly good in this.  At one point he has to recount a disastrous attempt at an adulterous affair and he careens from guile to vulnerability to excitement to rage every few heartbeats.)

But the thing about this play is that there are no breaks between scenes. The lights stay up, and the lone actor on stage, the therapist in whose office this takes place, makes all the changes in the scenery himself. He even changes clothes onstage to show the passage of time, while the lights go up and down to denote the passage of days outside his office windows. It's very clever, this bit. But it is not a commercial break. The ladies behind us didn't notice this or care to notice. Instead, one of them kept talking and asking questions and exchanging gossip with her peers. Another whipped out her cell phone and answered it. No amount of pointed glaring would silence them. At the end, Larry had the line of the day. "Greatest generation, my ass."

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