Monday, November 10, 2008


Kinda disappointed with Arrangements. (I saw a preview performance. Don't know what that's worth to you, I just know that people like being told about these things.) As is probably evident from the number of mentions it's received on this blog, Pavement Group's Lipstick Traces secured them a high spot on my 'companies to watch' list. Unfortunately, my second go 'round with them wasn't nearly so fruitful. Another experience that left me with very little to think about after, thus, very little to talk about here. Part of the problem was Ken Weitzman's script, which revolves around five intertwined folk who live out their extreme neuroses in some sort of vacuum-sealed bizarro Charlie Brown world (aside from an unresolved red herring of a homeless man, any ancillary characters are piped in from offstage like so many Peanuts adults). These characters saunter between platitudes and sitcom dialogue in relationships that make sense only to the extent of that's how Weitzman wrote it, so deal.

The only way I can see this play even remotely landing is through absurdity, absurdity, absurdity. And that's where I thought director Meghan Beals McCarthy was going when Heidi Koling came out in a fat suit to portray the morbidly obese Donna. But no sirree, she emoted right through that thing, as did everyone else in a production full of silence and emotional pause for characters that for the most part are so out there that we can only wonder at whether they truly feel anything.

Which makes me wonder the reason for the fat suit. I don't remember Weitzman calling for it in the script (but please, correct me if I'm wrong), and if it's not to be used as a distancing device, only a couple of other options pop in my mind immediately: either there's some sort of moral behind it (which, if so, was entirely lost on me -- I'd also pin some of that on Weitzman's jerky structuring) or it's a way to allow an actress to play a part she's not the right size for (which, with major ongoing conversations on gender and race equality on stage and behind the scenes, seems to be a somewhat foolhardy choice in today's society of everybody gets some). Plus, it's a fat suit in a small non-eq production. While it was well-achieved, this isn't a Big Momma's House budget we're talking; everyone's gonna know and be focused on the fact that it is, in fact, a suit. Much the same way I've spent so much time talking about it -- it's what stands out, sucking focus from everything else.

Eddie Murphy has done for the fat suit what Mike Myers did for bad British accents, but can anyone think of any straight-laced dramatic uses of the fat suit that were worthwhile? I'm not saying there aren't any, just that I sure can't think of them.


This week is Lookingglass' The Brothers Karamazov on Wednesday, Elevator Repair Service's Gatz on Friday and Factory's Bustin' Out Of The Hell on Saturday. How's that for a mix? Also, Signal Ensemble opens John Guare's Six Degrees Of Separation next Monday. I sat in for their first run-through a week or two back, and if that's any indication, you're in for a treat. As usual, if this is the first you've heard about it, you're probably too late for opening night tix, but that's all the more reason to grab tickets for another performance now before someone else grabs 'em for you.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're not a very bright theatre goer.