Monday, May 19, 2008

Play and Counterplay

Interesting theatre experience yesterday: I caught a matinee of Enchanted April at Circle and then went straight to The Building Stage's Master Builder, which I had grabbed a ticket to late last week. It was very much a yin and yang Sunday -- Enchanted April is a great production with solid performances and more or less everything required is firmly in place. But it's absolute (ladies, you'll have to pardon the term) chick-lit theatre piffle. As vacuous a show as vacuous can be. Master Builder seemed very skeletal and was quite muddled at times, but obviously had some ideas and, dare I say, entrails to it. Something was being mined from Ibsen as we watched. It didn't always come out cleanly, but clean isn't exactly how mining works.

So which was better? And how do you even compare the two? Circle had consistency on their side, but never moved beyond consistent. More than once The Building Stage lost my interest, but the select moments that they did strike gold, they struck gold hard. Were I stuck, like most critics, to a strict rating system, they probably would have gotten the same amount of stars, but that seems completely inadequate.

I think the biggest question it raises in my mind is whether, when I buy a ticket, I am paying for a finished product or for a peek at a product being discovered. I think I'm prone to the second, personally. I am most attracted, as creator and audience both, to a Cassavetes style of approach, in which everyone involved in the show knows from the outset what exactly is going to happen, but how it's going to happen is bound to bring new discoveries, and the best approach is to allow your self to work within and alongside those discoveries. I'll take a finished product, no doubt, but there's some doubly exciting about knowing that what is taking place on stage is happening because it's happening, not because the performers are making it happen.


My further plumbing of thoughts on As Told by the Vivian Girls has been postponed. Last Thursday, I tried to gamble with Time and Time, assisted by Rush Hour Traffic owned my ass. So I've done some more calendar switching and will be seeing the show for the second time on this Thursday instead. Further commentary will ensue.

Speaking of which, I am tremendously excited about this weekend's schedule. Because everything and its mother is closing on the 25th, it's my second weekend of insane scheduling before easing into a little more relaxed pace. But I'm knocking off a large chunk of my must-see list this week and am looking to be knocked off my feet more than once. Tomorrow night is WNEP's RAW, Wednesday is opening night of Nunsense at the Marriott (you read that correctly -- it's kinda amazing what comp tickets and a friend in the show will get me out to), Thursday is my encore performance of Dog and Pony's As Told by the Vivian Girls, Friday is THE current hot ticket Chicago show -- The Hypocrites' Our Town, Saturday is a double feature of American Theatre Company's much-lauded Speech and Debate and Redmoon's Boneyard Prayer (my first Redmoon experience; for shame, I know). And closing it out on Sunday night is Pavement Group's Lipstick Traces.

It's a motley crew, and I'm pumped.


Sad epilogue: Robert Rauschenberg passes away and the world barely bats an eye. I don't know what I was expecting, but I'm saddened nonetheless.


1 comment:

Paul said...

I will be seeing you there at the Vivian girls for *my* encore viewing. Awesome.