Wednesday, January 25, 2006

script reading and response

Since Jan W. (at least) responded to my recent *Pillowman* post, I thought maybe others might be interested in sharing here what scripts they're reading. It could be a means of dipping into who's reading what, what might or might not work onstage, how scripts read and perform differently, the practicalities of actual staging, etc.

I'll start. I'm rereading David Hare's *Racing Demon* now, about a crisis of faith and unresponsiveness to the poor among Anglican clergy in impoverished south London, circa 1990. Part of a loose trilogy of his, I gather, and political like all his work. I saw *Stuff Happens* in L.A. last May -- startling to see Cheney, Bush, Powell, Condi represented onstage; reasonably fair-minded on the war for a raging liberal. Not a work for the ages, but surprising in showing Bush to be not stupid but wily, and in depicting Powell's conscience-crisis and caving-in to the Bush-Rumsfeld hellbent-for-war bandwagon.

I just special-ordered *Shining City* but was disappointed. It's by Conor McPherson (This Lime Tree Bower, The Weir). Like The Weir, it has a ghost-story motif: Therapist in run-down part of Dublin talks with a man whose wife just died. The guy's overwhelmed by grief -- so much so that his story of seeing his wife's ghost seems attributable to extreme emotion. But McPherson has some tricks up his sleeve. Second scene, months later, therapist confronts and breaks up with his girlfriend. Some shared phrases from first scene, so you're thinking, OK, the two men will be paralleled somehow, both suffering some kind of separation anxiety. Third scene has the client from scene one in a long and riveting monologue about his guilt over how he wasn't a good husband. Then an almost gratutitous fourth scene, leading to final confrontation of "cured" client (?) and guilt-ridden (?) therapist. Might be haunting onstage; on the page, it seemed like remarkable, David Mamet-style ability to capture colloquial speech but a forced attempt at metaphor and symbol.

3M, 1 W, single set; 5 scenes, no intermission. But it left me thinking, Big deal.

So tell us what plays you've been reading. I mean, Cate Blanchett is playing Hedda Gabler off-Broadway in March; I'd pay a lot to see her in that role. So you can even share what old classics you've been revisiting. Children's plays and melodramas and musicals, too -- whatever might be viable at some point for local stages at least to consider.


At January 25, 2006 12:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about Okalhoma?

At January 25, 2006 1:41 PM , Blogger Bobo the Theater Ho said...

... written by the same guy who wrote Musci Man?

At January 25, 2006 4:43 PM , Blogger Bobo the Theater Ho said...

*Shining City* opens in New York in April with Oliver Platt and Martha Plimpton.


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