China Doll – Broadway – Theatre Patrons be warned – avoid this play!


WARNING THEATRE PATRONS – Avoid “China Doll”

Last night I was given the incredible gift of two tickets to a preview performance of “China Doll” on Broadway. The show stars Al Pacino and is a new play written by David Mamet. For this reason, the tickets are exceptionally expensive. I am sad to report this, but the only thing to applaud about “China Doll” is their marketing. On paper, the play is an easy sell. One would think the combination of “A New David Mamet Play” starring “Al Pacino” would be a natural Broadway Smash, one that would justify the roughly $400.00 ticket price. However, the play is an utter bomb!

Honestly, if Pacino just read the phonebook he’d be more interesting. Instead we watch him yell at people on the phone while ignoring the only other actor on stage. This is made even more maddening by him constantly repeating the same 2 basic “plot points” (if one could even call it that) to these imaginary people while simultaneously speaking in a way to let us know what the theoretical person on the other side of the conversation is saying by constantly repeating it back to them. To make matters worse, the main thing he is talking about is complaining that his attempt to prevent paying $5 Million dollars in sales tax on his $50 million private jet her purchased has failed, and that he might, god forbid, have to pay it. So the play pretty much boils down to an exceptionally wealthy man yelling at the equivalent of customer service about a problem less than 1% of the population could find relatable.

In a 2 hour play, I was so bored and disappointed that about thirty minutes in I kept trying to find something entertaining. While Pacino reiterated his boring plan to avoid sales tax to the 4th theoretical person on the phone, I spent much of my time smirking by seeing that a good portion of the audience had fallen asleep.

Honestly, Pacino does his best, and I blame Mamet for the failure of this piece. Mamet’s terrible writing choices of having Pacino talk to people we never hear or see is bad enough, but he also forces Pacino to say about 90% of the text of the play. To do this Pacino relies on numerous prompts embedded in the set. He literally reads a good portion of the play off of laptops, iPads, and newspapers. In addition, it is painfully obvious that when he is “on the phone” he is being fed his lines remotely. This makes the portions when he is forced to actually speak to the other actor on stage even more painful, as he stumbles terribly, repeating himself and constantly searching for the next line. Pacino is able to play this off in his own way, but he mainly behaves like Jerry Stiller who famously delivered his lines in such an erratic way because he was unable to remember them properly.

The other actor on stage is to be pitied, however he takes his duties to basically be a prompt and prop to heart. His performance, what little of it the play provides, is wooden and he appears to be doing a lot of acting exercises to keep himself entertained while he waits Pacino drowns on stage. His attempts to interact with his co-star are ignored, so I can’t blame him.

Mamet should be ashamed of himself for this, and I feel sorry for Pacino, his co-star, and all the people backstage who are forced to watch this tragedy unfold night after night. The actors certainly try, but they know they are essentially in a zombie play that just needs to be put out of its misery.

My only hope is that, as the play is still in previews, that they fix this. However, to do this, the play would basically need to be completely rewritten.

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Work

So my last post was a little negative. I thought I’d share that I found an outlet for my fiction and am currently working on it. Here is a snippet of what I am working on:

Chapter 4

“Mr. Boroughs, thank you for staying with us. Have you familiarized yourself with the material?” the goateed man asked.

“Yes, I have. It’s practically memorized.” I said trying to sound confident without being boastful.

“Excellent. Before we begin I’d like to talk to you for a few moments. For starters, I’m David Stein, I’m in charge of casting, and I’m a co-producer with our author, Colin Shapiro, who is this man to my right.” Stein says.

“A pleasure to meet you. I love what I’ve read so far.” I say to them as I smile and nod.

“And I am James Merchant, the director.” Declares the short bearded man on the left. The second I hear his name my heart skips a beat. James Merchant is one of the biggest directors in New York now. I’d seen his work, and even read about him, but I always assumed he would look different. Taller, and more…refined.

“It’s an honor sir. I saw your production of Much Ado about Nothing three times last year. It was incredible.” I gush sounding more like a fan boy than I mean to. The second the words leave my lips I regret them, and am trying to remember everything I said to him before I knew who he was.

“Did you now? That’s good to hear. However, Masque is a different animal despite the similarity in language.” He says.

“I understand. Is there anything I should know before we begin?” I ask hoping to a little direction.

“I’m sure there are a great number of things you should know, but right now I’m only interested in one thing. Chemistry. We’ve seen a lot of people for this role, seasoned professionals, even a celebrity, but they lacked the ability to connect to our leading man. The role requires an actor to not simply keep up with him, but to challenge him, and for some reason this has been difficult to find. So chemistry, Mr. Boroughs, is was I am looking for.” Says Merchant as he orbits me, evaluating every inch of me.

“He must be quite an actor.” Is all I can think of saying to reply.

“Well you would know wouldn’t you? I thought you two were friends.” Says Merchant extending his right hand toward Kevin, and placing his left at the small of my back. His hands are rough and cold, and my body spasms at the touch. Normally I would be so concerned with the fact that his fingers touched my bare flesh, meaning my vest has ridden up to exposing my holiday weight, but I am too confused to care.

“Kevin is the lead?” I ask for confirmation.

“Yes. Didn’t you know?” Asks Shapiro.

“He said he was the reader.” I reply.

“Well I am. It was the only way I could be part of the casting process without suspicion.” Kevin explains.

“I see someone is already getting into character. Practicing deception before we even begin rehearsals.” Shapiro says with a nod of approval.

“It would seem so Colin. Well that should make this somewhat interesting, so while the moment is still fresh, let us begin.” Says merchant returning his seat, and locking his eyes on me.

In this moment I am flooded with so many emotions. My brain feels foggy from the confusion of Kevin’s little e trick, I am nervous to have for a scene partner, especially with a director like James Merchant staring at me with such scrutiny. Chemistry. He wants chemistry. I’m not even sure what that means, and I feel myself shrinking in the room. This is why I play lackeys, my job is to make the lead look good. Challenge him. Challenge Kevin. The idea turns my stomach, as if to physically manifest a rejection of the very nature of the idea. I realize that time is going by, and that I’ve been staring at nothing for at least a minute. I have to snap out of it, so I tell myself to take another moment, to breathe, and then I force myself to look at Kevin and begin.

“Your Lordship has been most kind in inviting me to dine here, but soldiers are not used to supping on delicacies such as these. Surely you waste your finery on a man such as I.” I say to Kevin, my Count Ezio, and the line mirror my mind. I’m out of my class pretending to be Caleb.

“All men appreciate the pleasantries I provide. So worry not, my dear Caleb, what kind of man you are, not how refined a palate you may have. I devote my time to perfecting the guest list, your nutrition I leave to the masters of the kitchen.” Replies Kevin in a velvety tone locking his eyes on me and extending his hand toward mine.

My first impulse is to deliver my line as someone who ahs been bewitched by Kevin’s charms, but my brain keeps hearing James Merchant’s request to challenge him, and so I fight my lackey nature, and leave Kevin’s hand in the air.

“Yet I see your lordship has failed to invite anyone else tonight. Surely your judgment is something queer If I am your only guest.” I say demanding Kevin work harder if he wants to seduce this Caleb.

“Perhaps my judgment of you is somewhat affected. It was my thought that a private supper would be best for us. I am told soldiers prefer more intimate affairs.” Says Kevin redoubling his efforts to have Ezio ooze charm.

“Some do. Many find the constant company of their platoon tiresome.” I say with detached indifference.

“My thoughts exactly. Are you such a solder? Do you hold dear evening such as these, where one may relax behind closed doors?” Ken asks taking my hand in the same swift elegant gesture he had used this morning.

“Sometimes my lord. I have always felt that it depends on the company I keep. But I assure you that, as I’ve never dined with nobility before, this is a night I shall never forget.” I say, and although I once thought this was an indication of Caleb’s giving in to Ezio’s advance, my intonation is as intentionally evasive as the words Caleb speaks. I see now that Caleb is a mystery, and this is what causes Ezio to try so hard. Realizing this I drop Kevin’s hand, and walk toward the chair that Kevin sat in at the corner of the room.

“Oh, my little Caleb, think not of me as your lord tonight. Call me Ezio, I would like us to be friends. Will you embrace me as you do your fellow soldiers?” Asks Kevin, as he approaches me in my corner, leaving me nowhere to run.

“Ezio, I will gladly embrace you, but do not ask it as a comrade. If we are to be friends, I hope you never know the life of a soldier. The horrors there are not for a man as refined and fragile as yourself.” I say, and choose to give him a stiff hug instead of a tender one. I wait for Kevin to let go, but instead he pulls me forward into a tight embrace. My head rests on his chest, due to our height different, and I look up at him with a pleading look on my face, this causes him to smile ever so slightly, cup his hand to my jaw, and then kiss me ever so gently. For a brief moment I feel elated, Kevin’s soft full lips are so different from Eric’s that I feel compelled to linger to explore the sensation, but as my guard drops further, Kevin begins to press harder, and I jerk away from him once I feel his tongue attempt to invade my mouth. Furious that he would try this in the middle of an audition I shoot him a look of anger and betrayal. My mind goes blank, I cannot remember Caleb’s next line, and when I look down to find my place in the script I see that I must have dropped the pages during the kiss.

“Let’s stop there shall we?” Merchant says as I am about to bend over and collect the script.

“Sorry, I lost my place for a moment.” I say.

“Oh, don’t apologize Mr. Boroughs. I rather appreciated your interesting interpretation with those lines.” Says Merchant as he is looking at the papers on the table.

“Yes, well it would be hard not to lose your place when Mr. Connor’s decides to embellish the script. I don’t recall adding a kiss there James.” Says Shapiro.

“Sorry, it just felt right. I felt like I was running out of options.” Kevin apologizes.

“Yes, it surely seemed you were. Though I am not sure Ezio would be so brash. This play is all about seduction, it needs to be slow, to really rev up the tension. Though Colin, I think a kiss in that scene might help. We all know what sells.” Says Merchant to Shapiro who shakes his head in disapproval.

“Mr. Boroughs, thank you so much. I believe we’ve seen enough to make our decision.” Says Stein.

“Oh, alright. Well thank you. Thank you so much. It’s been an honor.” I say, and quickly make my exit before I have a chance to embarrass myself further.

“Hold up! I’ll walk with you.” Says Kevin as he chases after me.

“We are not through with you Mr. Connors. We still need to discuss some matters with you.” Stein says like a teacher telling a kid he cannot go out and play.

“ Oh…right. Well I’ll see you then.” Says Kevin with a short wave that feels so inconsequential compared to the intimacy of the scene that happened moments before. Taken aback by how quickly he returned to being so professional I simply nod to him and close the door.

The entire experience has left me light headed, and before I know it I’ve boarded the subway home. I don’t recall speaking to Jerry, and for a moment on the train I feel guilty for failing to say good-bye. The train is crowded, and though I wish I could sit down, I don’t get to do so until I flop down onto the couch inside the apartment. Before I know it, I close my eyes and fall asleep.

Finishing the Act

yaoi

Okay so I thought I’d title this solely for the Sondheim reference.

Today I finished Act I of the play I’ve been working on. I reviewed it a bit, and cleaned up a few lines and made a few changes. It felt like such a big accomplishment, but the second it was done, I wanted to know whether or not to deal with Act II. I decided to let myself ruminate over the plot a bit more today.

Still, I was glad to have completed my project today. I question whether or not it is actually of interest to anyone but me. However, I think once I do some more work on it, that question will be answered.

End of Scene 7 and incidentally end of Act I

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Jack: [laying a hand on his shoulder to steady him] Peter? Hey, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…oh god…here sit down on the bed.

[Jack helps Peter sit on the bed. Fairytale Jackson lays Prince down on his side, and props himself up on his elbows keeping watch over Prince.]

Peter:[catatonic] Why did you do that?

Jack: Cause I knew you would let go if I did.

Peter: Oh.

[a moment of silence]

Peter: No one has ever kissed me before.

Jack: Oh…really?

Peter: Yes.

Jack: Why?

Peter: What?

Jack: I mean…why not?

Peter: I don’t know.

Jack: It’s no big deal. I’m sorry.

Peter: I’m…I’m…not.

Jack: What?

Peter: I’m not sorry you kissed me.

Jack: What?

Peter: I can’t explain… it’s like…like…this. [Peter has flipped to a part of his journal without looking at the pages. He hands it to Jack.] I want you…you…

Jack: You want me?

Peter: [quickly] I want you to read it.

[While Jack reads aloud from the book “The Meditation” from “Thais” begins to play. The lights dim on Jack and Peter and become brighter on Jackson and Prince. Prince and Peter speak lines together. Jackson and Jack speaks their own lines together.]

Jack: [reading aloud from the book] The prince stared into Jackson’s eyes, he was afraid, but of what he knew not. Was it the fear that Jackson had revived a part of his heart he had long thought dead? Or was it fear that Jackson would leave again, once again breaking his heart. Could he stand it? Jackson’s warm breath on his neck made him shiver, despite the fact he was not cold. His entire body shook, and Jackson only pulled him tighter. This was it, the embrace he had always wanted, this was what was missing when he courted Sylvia. The prince turned slowly to face Jackson, and cupped his hand to his face.

Peter & Prince: No one has ever kissed me before.

Jack & Jackson: I’m sorry.

Peter & Prince: For what?

Jack & Jackson: I couldn’t help it. You are amazing.

Peter & Prince: Can we do it again?

Jack & Jackson: You’re sure?

Peter and Prince: I’ve never been more certain.

[The lights return on Jack and Peter. Both scenes are animated. Jackson and Prince begin to tenderly kiss each other. The music stops.]

Jack:  When did you write this?

Peter: Today.

Jack: When I kissed you…I…didn’t mean to…

Peter: It’s fine…I just didn’t expect it to…happen.

Jack: I’m sorry.

Peter: I wish you weren’t.

Jack: I’m sorry I didn’t do this sooner.

Peter: Do what?

[Jack kisses Peter and they fall onto the bed. The music returns, louder, at the swell of the piece, roughly 2:15 into the piece, The second Jack and Peter kiss, Jackson and Prince again sigh in ecstasy and their kissing and caressing becomes increasingly passionate.]

Jack & Jackson: I feel like we’ve wasted so much time.

Peter & Prince: You were worth waiting for.

[The couples kiss tenderly, and the music continues. The sound of a door being unlocked is played. Marcia and Lucy enter Peter’s room. Marcia is carrying a tray. At the same time Samuel and Juliet enter Prince and Jackson’s room. Juliet is carrying a tray. Samuel and Lucy simultaneously gasp. Marcia and Juliet both drop trays. The lovers look, they are caught, the lights go black.]

End of Act I

Ending scene 6 and most of scene 7

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[Peter begins to stand, and then falls]

Jack: Oh, wow, you really hurt yourself.

Peter: Yeah, guess I was rustier than I thought.

Jack: Let me see.

Peter: [Pulling up the leg of his pants] I think I just landed on my knee wrong.

Jack: [touching his leg] It feels like it is already swelling.

Peter: [wincing] Ouch.

[Barbara enters, and sees Jack touching Peter’s leg. From her perspective this probably looks a little more risqué than it is. She is stunned and then speaks.]

Barbara: What are you two boys doing in here?

Jack: [quickly removing his hand] Mom! Oh, Peter and I were doing some of those old Yoga CD’s I found.

Peter: I accidentally fell down.

Barbara: Oh, well Jackson…Jack why don’t you go get some ice for Peter.

Jack: Good thinking Mom.

[Jack exits]

Barbara: I hope you didn’t hurt yourself too bad. I told Jack if he wanted to do that kind of stuff he should have bought the beginner’s guide.

Peter: Well…I think he just was using what you guys already had.

Barbara: Already had? I’ve never seen them before in my life.

Peter: Oh. He said he found them.

[Jack enters with ice pack]

Jack: Here we go.

[Jack moves as if he is going to apply the ice pack, but Barbara holds out her hand as if to let her do it.]

Barbara: [applying the ice pack] There we go. Well maybe you two should just do your homework until dinner. Keep this on there. I don’t want your mother to think my house is a death trap.

Peter: She’s not that kind of lawyer.

Barbara: [laughing] Oh I wasn’t even thinking about that. Be careful with one Jack, I wouldn’t want Mrs. Mason to garnish your allowance.

[Barbara exits.]

Jack: Does it still hurt?

Peter: Yeah, but not as bad. I’m sorry to be so much trouble.

Jack: Don’t worry about it.

Peter: Well I guess we should hit the books. Imagine what your Mom will do if you bring home an A+.

Jack: Yeah, she’ll probably cook for a week. I just hope she doesn’t expect me to get your grades.

Peter: Heh, yeah. I don’t think my Mom would think of my grades as something to cook for.

Jack: I assumed she’d only cook if you made bad grades.

Peter: [laughing] Yeah. It is more of a punishment.

Jack: So…do you have any homework to do?

Peter: Not really. I should probably work on my story some more.

Jack: What’s that for?

Peter: Nothing. Well…Mrs. Bell encouraged me to do it as a side project, but it’s not for a grade or anything. My Mom and I used to make up stories when I was a kid. She got busy with work when she had this big case, so she didn’t have time anymore, but I just kind of kept up the habit.

Jack: Oh.  Have you written a lot of them?

Peter: Well sort of, I mean, nothing is finished. I wouldn’t ever let my mother end a story, because then I knew we wouldn’t write together anymore. So there are a lot of different adventures, but none of them are really done.

Jack: Are you planning on finishing it soon?

Peter: Yeah, after I turned in one of them for Mrs. Bell for a writing assignment, she said that I should think about turning it into a book. Apparently she knew a kid who got to go to whatever college he wanted because he wrote a best seller before he was 18. I told my Mom, and now she wants me to try and finish it by the end of the year.

Jack: How much more do you have?

Peter: Not sure, but that reminds me. Where did you get that yoga cd?

Jack: Oh…I found it.

Peter: Yeah, but where? Your mom said it wasn’t hers.

Jack: She did? Oh…well yeah. I found it in town. It was in the old used bookstore.

Peter: Oh? Does it say who the woman talking is?

[Jack grabs the cd case and book]

Jack: Umm….I don’t think it does. Why?

Peter: She sounds really familiar. Like a voice I hear when one of my characters talk.

Jack: Maybe she was on some of your other yoga stuff.

Peter: Yeah…maybe.

Barbara: [off stage] Boys! It’s time for dinner.

[Peter and Jack stand up. Peter falters for a bit, and Jack catches him. They are in a similar tableau as the dip in scene 2]

Jack: Are you alright?

Peter: Oh…umm…yeah. I think I can make it now.

[Jack let’s Peter go, and then puts Peter’s arm over his shoulders and helps him exit.]

[transition to scene 7 – Peter re-enters the stage. He is no longer injured. The set transforms back into Peter’s room. Peter sits at the desk, and begins to write. The lights change. The young man, from transition scene 5 enters, he is no longer naked. He wears a long billowy night shirt. He stands with his arms crossed looking out at the audience for a moment. His face is serene, but sad. He is waiting for someone. A male singing voice is heard in the distance.]

{The two sing ‘La Ci Darem La Mano’} together

[The voice gets closer and closer. A masked man enters. The young man rushes towards him, but falters. The masked man rushes to him, and catches him just like Jack and Peter.]

Masked man: [with dramatic concern] Are you alright my prince?

Young Man: I am. Now that you have come.

[The young man rips off the mask, revealing a man who resembles Jack, and kisses him passionately. From the shadows emerges Juliet. The lovers do not notice her. While Juliet and Peter discuss, the two lovers dance together.]

Juliet: That is not Lady Sylvia.

Peter: No it is not.

Juliet: Who is he?

Peter: Someone new.

Juliet: What about Sylvia?

Peter: I don’t know what to do with her.

Juliet: Well, I hope you know what you are doing with him.

[Juliet leaves. The lovers stop dancing and lay down with each other. Curled in each other’s arms. A knock is heard. The lights change, and Peter gets up from his desk.]

Peter: Come in!

[Jack comes in with an overnight bag]

Jack: Hey! What’s up?

Peter: Not much. Just working on my story. Did your mom say you could stay?

Jack: Yeah, but she wants me home by noon tomorrow. Apparently the lawn doesn’t mow itself.

Peter: Heh. Yeah. Too bad there is nothing in the photosynthesis chapter to help you out there.

Jack: I know. You’d think someone would have invented that by now.

Peter: So, my Mom will be serving up Indian tonight. I hope that’s okay.

Jack: Haha, I think your mom must be trying to have me taste every country on earth.

Peter: That’s what you get for not knowing how to use chop sticks. You are her new project. Apparently we’re not supposed to be so blasé about her ordering skills, and act more like you.

Jack: Heh, we seem to have the same problem. Apparently I don’t compliment my Mom’s cooking enough.

Peter: I can’t believe that! Your Mom could open a restaurant.

Jack: And your mom could order.

[Jack and Peter both laugh]

Peter: So what do you want to do?

Jack: Not homework! I can’t think about homework on Fridays.

Peter: Yeah, I think even 4.0 kids take tonight off. Do you want to watch a movie or something?

Jack: Actually, I was wondering if we could write a story together. I liked what you wrote before.

Peter: What do you mean?

Jack: In your journal. This one. Remember I returned it to you.

[Jack picks up the journal]

Peter:  Did you read it?

Jack: I read a page or two, but I didn’t know what it was, and I wasn’t sure if I should.

Peter: [darkly] What did you read?

Jack:[flipping through the pages of the journal] Something about a girl and a mirror.

Peter: Oh yeah…that part.

Jack: Hey! Did you name a character after me?

Peter:[rushing to get the book away from Jack] No!..I mean yeah I guess so, but don’t read that! It’s not…it’s not….it’s not finished!

[Jack holds the book away from Peter, and Peter strains to get the book out of Jack’s hands. Jack, clearly in control, fends Peter off, and the two begin to struggle. The storybook lovers begin to roll around in a similar fashion. Mainly they storybook lovers are disrobing the fairytale Jackson. Finally Peter and Jack find themselves tangled into each other.]

Peter: [straining to pry the book from Jack’s hands] Let go.

Jack: [smiling] Make me.

Peter: That’s what I’m trying to do.

Jack: I bet I can get you to let go.

Peter: I doubt it.

[Jack jerks on the journal sending Peter crashing into Jack. Jack takes his free hand to grip the back of Peter’s head and force his face to Jack. Jack kisses Peter hard and forceful. The storybook lovers both make a sound of ecstasy and lock themselves together. Peter stops holding onto the book, and starts to kiss Jack back. Jack’s kiss softens, and then suddenly pulls away. The lovers fall away from each other. The Prince looks down, and fairytale Jackson looks at the Prince.]

Jack:[holding the book] Told you so.

Peter: Yeah…well…we…just…you…you cheated!

Jack: All is fair in love and war right?

Peter: Yeah well with tactics like that. I’d have to wonder which one you were referring to.

Jack: [laughing] What’s that your sister always says? Maybe they aren’t “Mutually Exclusive”

Peter: What?

[Jack approaches Peter and hands him the journal. The prince meets fairytale Jackson’s eyes.]

Jack: Sorry. I won’t read it until you’re ready.

Peter: Oh…um…thanks.

Jack: Are you okay?

Peter: Am I okay? Am I okay? I…I…don’t know.

[Peter begins to sway a little.]

Jack: [laying a hand on his shoulder to steady him] Peter? Hey, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…um…here sit down on the bed.

[Jack helps Peter sit on the bed. Fairytale Jackson lays the Prince down on his side, and props himself up on his elbows keeping watch over the Prince.]

Peter: Why did you do that?

Jack: Cause I knew you would let go if I did.

Peter: Oh. No one has ever kissed me before.

Jack: Oh…really?

Peter: Yes.

Jack: Why?

Peter: What?

Jack: I mean…why not?

Peter: I don’t know.

Jack: Sorry if it was weird.

Peter: Yeah. Okay.

The show must go on – Continue of Scene 4 through 1\2 of scene 6

So I decided to pick up the play I had been working on. I made a lot of progress:

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Continue of Scene 4 through 1\2 of scene 6

[Lucy glares at Peter]

Lucy: I am not a gossip. Look it up.

[the door bell rings]

Lucy: [excited] I’ll get it!

[Lucy exits]

Peter: [picking up the dictionary and flipping to the page] Heh, I win this one.

Marcia: I hope that isn’t a bunch of her friends. I didn’t buy enough food for an entire army.

Lucy: [entering with Jack] I found the journal thief!

Jack: What? No…I didn’t steal it. Peter just left it behind.

Peter: Yeah, I accidentally left it in the classroom. Thanks for bringing it.

Marcia: [cough] [attempting to be discrete] Peter introduce your friend.

Peter: Huh? Oh! Sorry. Mom this is umm….

Jack: Jackson Reeves.

Marcia: A pleasure to meet you Jackson.

Peter: Yeah, we met each other between classes a few days ago. Sorry I didn’t get your name.

Jack: No problem. You’re actually in my biology classroom.

Peter: Oh…yeah, sorry Beth, my lab partner, tends to monopolize all my attention in there.

Jack: I think Beth tries to monopolize everyone’s attention, thankfully most of us are spared, but your on the front lines. I think the whole class pities you.

Marcia: Would you like to stay for dinner Jackson?

Jack: Umm….sure! You can call me Jack, everyone does.

Marcia: Alright Jack! I hope you like Chinese take-out.

Jack: I love it! My parents don’t normally order out, so I only get to eat it when I visit my Aunt June.

Peter: I think ordering is Mom’s specialty.

Marcia: Ordering can be just as much an art as cooking.

Jack: I couldn’t agree more. My parents are always intimidated by menus if they have foreign words on them. My mom thought “Au Bon Pain” was pronounced “Ow Bon Pain.”

Marcia: See how lucky you two are?

Lucy: Of course mother. I’ve always said you ordered with style.

Peter: [rolling his eyes] When have you ever said that?

Lucy: Maybe you couldn’t hear me from your tower.

Jack: Tower?

Peter: My room. I live in the attic.

Marcia: You said you wanted to live there.

Peter: I do.

Lucy: Yes, it’s so nice to have our own private bell ringer. [imitating quasi modo] The bells the bells!

[no one laughs]

Marcia: Lucy don’t you have homework to do or something?

Lucy: What?

Marcia: Why don’t you take dinner to your room?

Lucy: I thought you wanted geniuses who ate together?

Peter: It’s okay Mom. Jack you wanna work on our Bio stuff in my room?  Maybe if I study with someone other than Beth I’ll be able to get some work done.

Jack: Sure.

Marcia: Well take this with you. Jackson I’m sure you’ll adore it, hands down the best sesame chicken in town.

Jack: Thanks Mrs. Mason.

Marcia: Call me Marcia. Mrs. Mason is my wicked ex-mother in law.

Jack: Um…sure thing [having some difficulty] Marcia.

[Jack and Peter exit]

Marcia: What a polite young man.

Lucy: Whatever, he’s just another freak.

Marcia: Just because he isn’t like you doesn’t make him a freak.

Lucy: No, his freakiness makes him a freak.

[Marcia gives a heavy sigh, pulls out some papers and begins to review them as she starts to eat. Lucy picks up her phone and the phone jingles as she sends another text message.]

[Transition to Scene 5 – we see a young man laying naked in a center spotlight. He is covered by a single white sheet. He is radiant, stunning, and basking in the warm light. Sounds of birds and running water begin. The young man raises his hands up into the light, and begins to make intricate movements as if he was creating something, which is invisible. As he does this music begins to filter into the scene, instruments being added as the young man continues to create. A suggested music piece would be the first minute or so of Stravinsky’s Firebird. Finally, he stops moving his hands and allows them to rest on the floor. The music continues, but softens. The light goes from sunlight to moonlight, and the young man rolls over and falls asleep. Crickets are heard, the sounds of night. From opposite sides of the stage Juliet and Samuel barely come into view. They stare at the young man, and approach him. He does not stir. They are crouched over him.]

Juliet: What does it mean?

Samuel: I don’t know, but things in his world are changing ours.

[Transition to scene 6. Jack’s home. There is a couch and coffee table and a stereo. Jack paces back and forth. He checks the placement of the books. He makes small adjustments. He picks up a remote and points it at the stereo. Immediately a very loud speech begins to play]

Preacher: That it was said by them of our most sacred fathers, That whosoever looketh on a man to lust after him hath committed an ABOMINATION with….

[Instead of being able to make the recording stop immediately, Jack’s mistakenly made the volume go up. Finally cutting it off at “Abomination!” music, similar to the music the young man had composed from light, begins to play. Jack, pauses it and places the remote gently back onto the table. There is a knock at the door. Jack jumps, and then goes to the door. He opens and Peter comes bursting in overflowing with excitement]

Peter: I got an A+!!! Wow Jack! I think studying with you all week has actually saved my 4.0 GPA! How did you do?

Jack: I got an A. I messed up on that question about transgenis organisms.

Peter: Oh, I thought we went over that.

Jack: We did, but I just blanked on the test.

Peter: Oh….well next time we’ll have studied together for longer than a week so it we’ll know it even better.

Jack: Yeah. My mom was so amazed to see me bring home an A.

Peter: Oh so she knows already? Is she here?

Jack: Yeah, she’s in the kitchen.

Barbara: [entering] Jackson, is someone here? Oh! Who is this?

Jack: Mom, this is Peter. He’s the boy who I was telling you abo…

Barbara: [swooping in for an embrace] Peter! The boy who helped my son bring home an A! You know Jackson hasn’t stopped talking about you since you two met! I was beginning to wonder if you existed, but here you are in the flesh!

Peter: Heh…nice to meet you Mrs. Reeves.

Barbara: Well I hope you can stay for dinner! I’ve been cooking up Jackson’s favorite since he did so well on his test. Do you like lasagna?

Peter: Yeah, I order it all the time at Bruno’s.

Barbara: Hah! Bruno’s is nothing compared to mine. My great grandmother came from Sicily, and her recipe has been handed down from daughter to daughter since then.

Peter: I’d love to try it. Let me just call home.

Barbara: Of course dear, there is a phone in the kitchen, and tell your mother that I’d love to do lunch sometime.

Peter: Sure thing.

[Peter exits]

Barbara: See Jackson. I knew you’d make friends. Just be careful. After what happened in Providence, we were so lucky your father got transferred when he did.

Jack: Mom! I don’t want to talk about….

[Peter enters]

Peter: Mom said I could stay. She said she’d try and set up a time to have lunch. They keep her very busy at her firm.

Barbara: Of course dear. Well I’ll call when it’s time for dinner. Let me know if you need anything.

[Barbara gives Jack a glance, and then exits]

Peter: Sure thing Mrs. Reeves. Thanks again!

Jack: So…I was digging around in my Mom’s old CD collection, and I found this CD that has Yoga instructions on it. Do you want to try it?

Peter: Yoga?

Jack: Yeah, remember, you said you were trying to get back into it.

Peter: Oh yeah…that’s right. Sure, I mean I’m sure I’m really rusty.

Jack: That’s okay. I’ve never done it before, but I found these books on it.

Peter: Alright, well let’s give it a shot.

[Jack picks up the remote, there is a beat, and then bravely he points the remote at the sound system. The music begins, and a voice is heard.]

Juliet: Welcome to Yoga lesson 7.

[Peter reacts to the fact that it is Juliet’s voice on the recording. Jack doesn’t notice. During the next series of exercises Peter keeps his eyes closed. Jack tries, but he doesn’t understand the instructions, so he watches Peter and tries to do what he does. The actor who plays Jack can or cannot do well with this first pose. It is up to the director and capabilities of the actor. Peter however should do this flawlessly. During this monologue Juliet will appear behind Peter and while talking she will help him achieve the pose. Much like in Scene 2 Jack cannot see Juliet. Peter should not see Juliet either as his eyes are closed.]

Juliet: Begin by lying on your back. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath, and when you exhale allow yourself to relax. Feel yourself being supported by the floorboards in the floor. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale and on your next exhale slowly bring your knees up towards your body. Inhale again, and when you exhale this time bring our feet down, with your knees pointed towards the heavens. Your knees should be hip width apart. Bring your hands onto the floor by your ears with your fingers pointing back towards the shoulder. Pressing down strongly through your feet, peel your spine up from the floor one vertebrate at the time. There will be a point when you are half way up, and you’ll want to put the crown of the head on the floor like a back bend. Inhale. Exhale. Again pressing through your feet lift the crown of the head off of the floor and slowly return to the floor one vertebrate at a time. Inhale. Exhale. Now we will move on to a more advanced position called “The Eight Angle Pose.” Begin by….

[Jack pauses the recording with the remote.]

Jack: Umm…I don’t think I can do more than that.

Peter: Oh come on. One more?

Jack: Alright.

[Jack resumes the recording. Jack will probably get through a few steps, but then he’ll stop and just watch Peter. Juliet will continue to talk as if she is the recording, but will help Peter do the eight angle pose.]

Juliet: Standing, taking a slightly wider stance than you would usually, Inhale. Exhale, bend forward press your hands to the floor outside your feet. Then with your knees slightly bent, slip your right arm to the inside and then behind your right leg, and finally press the hand on the floor just outside your right foot. Work your right arm across the back of the right knee, until the knee is high up on the back of your right shoulder. Brace your shoulder against the knee and slide your left foot to the right. Cross the left ankle in front of the right and hook the ankles. Lean slightly to the left, taking more weight on your left arm, and begin to lift your feet a few inches off the floor. With the right leg supported on the shoulder, exhale and bend your elbows. Lean your torso forward and lower it toward parallel to the floor; at the same time, straighten your knees and extend your legs out to the right, parallel to the floor (and perpendicular to your torso). Squeeze your upper right arm between your thighs. Use that pressure to help twist your torso to the left. Keep your elbows in close to the torso. Look at the floor. Hold. Inhale. Exhale.

Jack: Wow.

[Peter opens his eyes, the spell breaks, and Peter topples over. Juliet exits as if she is fading away.]

Peter: Ow.

Jack: Oh I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to screw you up.

Peter: Umm…no it’s okay. I’ve ever done that before.

Jack: You are amazing.

Peter: Heh…thanks. I don’t think I could do it again though.

Jack: Heh, are you alright.

Peter: I think so.

[Peter begins to stand, and then falls]

Jack: Oh no.

Scene 3 & Scene 4 – Part 1

ist2_378425-cell-phone-on-tableI have not finished. I feel like Marcia, the mom, needs to talk more.

[Transition to Scene 3 – Music. Jack begins to read the book. Behind him we see a mirror. It is covered with a sheet. Juliet cautiously enters. She is somewhere she should not be. She slowly approaches the mirror. Tears off the sheet. Her reflection is revealed. Juliet collapses in despair. Paul closes the book and the scene dissolves.]

[Transition to Scene 4 – Lucy and Peter are seated at a table. Lucy is texting on her phone, which jingles one way when a message is received, and another when a message is sent. Peter is doing homework]

[ding]

Peter: If you are texting that much, isn’t the ring kind of pointless?

[ding]

Lucy: No.

[ding]

Peter: but you know you have a message because you are already looking at your phone.

[ding]

Lucy: So?

[ding]

Peter: So you don’t need it to ring to let you know.

[ding]

Lucy: So?

[ding] [ding] [ding]

Peter: SO turn it off!

[ding]

Lucy: Why?

[ding]

Peter: It is annoying.

[ding] [ding] [ding]

Lucy: is it?

Peter: Who wouldn’t find it annoying?

[ding]

Lucy: Why do you?

[ding] [ding] [ding]

Peter: Because I can’t concentrate!

Lucy: Statement! I win.

[Lucy plays with her phone and it plays a “triumphant” ring tone]

Peter: You are such a bitch sometimes.

Lucy: Jeez. What’s your problem tonight?

[ding]

Peter: Nothing.

Lucy: It’s not “Nothing.” You are being more annoying than usual.

Peter: Perhaps it is because you are being bitchier than usual.

Lucy: Stop saying “bitch” like you know how to say it. It doesn’t sound right when you say it.

Peter: [with ridiculous diction] Fuck you.

Lucy: [laughing] You just can’t curse Peter.

Peter: Shut-up.

Lucy: Uhg! Why are you even here? Shouldn’t you be screaming how beautiful you are in your little tower?

[ding]

Peter: I can’t.

Lucy: Why? Did you finally realize your ugly?

Peter: No.

Lucy: Then what’s the problem?

Peter: Why do you want to know?

Lucy: Why won’t you tell me?

Peter: Why should I?

Lucy: Because if you don’t I’ll keep “annoying” you with my phone until you do.

Peter: Statement. I win.

[Peter grabs Lucy’s phone and plays the funeral march. Lucy immediately grabs the phone back.]

Lucy: I wasn’t playing that time.

Peter: Playing what?

Lucy: You know!

Peter: Statement I win.

[Funeral March. Lucy fixes her phone to play the previous tone.]

Lucy: If I beat you, will you tell me?

Peter: What do I get if I beat you?

Lucy: What do you want?

Peter: Your phone.

Lucy: Statement! I win! Now you have to tell!

[Lucy plays her victory music on her phone]

Peter: If I tell you, will you leave me alone.

Lucy: [after thinking about it]…yes.

Peter: Fine. I lost my journal…well I didn’t lose it. I know where I left it, but when I went back to get it, it was gone.

Lucy: So it is lost?

Peter: No…it was stolen.

Lucy: Do you know where it is?

Peter: If I did, I would have it.

Lucy: So it is lost.

Peter: Fine. It is lost most likely because it was stolen.

Lucy: So why don’t you just write on something else?

Peter: I can’t remember where I left off.

Lucy: So write something new.

Peter: I have to finish what I am writing.

Lucy: So you are choosing to….

[Marcia enters carrying take-out. Marcia is Peter and Lucy’s mother. She is in business attire and speaking on a cell phone very loudly. Marcia’s entrance causes the children to immediately stop speaking and pretend to be working. They are ideal students/children.]

Marcia: no…Toby listen to me! You have to file that motion before you leave the office tonight…yes…I don’t care!…Do you want to fight about this?…I thought not…it better be in by midnight. [she hangs up the phone] Children! Mummy’s home. Look what I made tonight!

[Marcia present her take-out as if it is a Thanksgiving turkey.]

Lucy: [joining in the joke] You are the best chef ever.

Peter: I think I’ll take it in my room.

Marcia: No you will not! Do you know what Einstein, Edison, and ______ all had in common?

Lucy & Peter: They all ate dinner with their family every night.

Marcia: That’s right, and when people are adding your name to that list you’ll thank me. I will be the mother of two geniuses.

Peter: You realize the statistics of that are not in your favor.

Lucy: They didn’t work in the favor of ___________ but it still happened.

Marcia: Based on those two statements alone I’d say my odds are looking pretty good. Now Peter what happened in school today?

Peter: Nothing.

Lucy: Liar.

Marcia: What!?

Lucy: Peter lost his journal.

Peter:  Gossip!

Lucy: Just because I am talking about you, doesn’t make it gossip.

Peter: Actually I think it does.

Lucy: You are wrong.

Peter: Prove it.

Lucy: I will.

[Lucy exits]

Marcia: You’re about to lose.

Peter: Depends on how you look at it.

Marcia: What do you mean?

Peter: She left didn’t she?

Marcia: [Beaming] Brilliant. So what happened to your journal.

Peter: Why do people assume I know what happened to it if it is “lost?”

Marcia: Alright. Where was the last place you had it?

Peter: I left it in a class room, and when I went back it was gone.

Marcia: So it was stolen!

[Lucy enters with dictionary]

Lucy: Stolen and Lost are not mutually exclusive Mother.

Marcia: Why do I have the feeling you are repeating yourself?

Peter: She already won that one.

Lucy: I always win.

[picks up phone and plays funeral theme]

Peter: You do?

[Lucy glares at Peter]

Lucy: I am not a gossip. Look it up.

[the door bell rings]

Lucy: [excited] I’ll get it!

Scene 2

I decided to add this.

dance-class

[Transition to Scene 2 – Peter walks to his desk – A school bell rings –  chatting students shuffling out of the room is heard. Peter watches students leave. The sound dies. Peter looks around to see if he is alone. After he decides it is safe, he reaches into his backpack and pulls out a journal. It is cluttered with tabs and clippings sticking out of it. He opens it, and begins to write feverishly. Slowly music behind to play. A good idea of what kind of music is a track entitled “Dance Part of Valis Castle” Peter’s writing begins to slow down and his pen strokes keep rhythm. Peter hears the music. Samuel waltzes onto the stage with an unseen partner. Samuel laughs at something his partner has said.]

Samuel: [to unseen partner] I swear it’s true! Leo found him in the garden completely naked singing to the birds. Ever since then, he is convinced he is some sort of prince, at least that is what he says.

[Samuel laughs and continues to dance his face alighted to be wherever he is, the music continues, Samuel’s face slowly changes from elated to exasperated. He stops. The music dies. Samuel looks to Peter.]

Peter: Sorry.

Samuel: Well what is next?

Peter: I don’t know.

Samuel: What is the problem?

Peter: I don’t know where this is going.

Samuel: From the looks of it…no where.

Peter: That isn’t helping.

Samuel: Can I help?

Peter: Can you?

Samuel: Well what is the matter? What does she say?

Peter: Who?

Samuel: [gesticulating to his invisible partner] Lady Amalthea!

Peter: Oh. I don’t know. I can’t hear her.

Samuel: Then why am I dancing with her?

Peter: You have to dance with someone. You’re at the ball.

Samuel: Well, why am I here?

Peter: To find out about Leo’s prince.

Samuel: How is being at a ball going to help me do that?

Peter: You’re a gossip. Your social circles is where you get all your information.

Samuel: [insulted] I sir! Am no gossip!

Peter: You are.

Samuel: I am…a conversationalist.

Peter: A gossip.

Samuel: I am a conversationalist, or at least I am supposed to be. Do get on that won’t you.

Peter: I can’t hear her.

Samuel: So make her you.

Peter: It doesn’t work that way.

Samuel: Then you must become her. Let her use your voice since you cannot give her one of her own.

Peter: How do you propose I do that?

Samuel: I suggest you start by dancing.

Peter: With you?

Samuel: Unless she is supposed to be speaking to someone else.

Peter: I can’t dance with you.

Samuel: Why not.

Peter: You are a man.

Samuel: And you are going to be a lady.

Peter: I can’t.

Samuel: You can.

Peter: I don’t want to. It is weird.

Samuel: You have a gossip waltzing with a mute. That is weird.

Peter: So you are a gossip.

Samuel: [extending his hand to Peter] I am, if my dancing partner talks.

Peter: [taking his hand] Then I guess your lady needs my voice.

[Peter and Samuel start to dance. Juliet enters the room and watches them. They are awkward to begin. Peter and Samuel are both attempting to maintain masculine posture. Peter attempts to lead, but Samuel will not budge. Peter tries again. Samuel moves Peter’s hand to his shoulder. Peter moves Samuels hand to the small of his back. They begin to dance. Samuel leads.]

Peter: This is hard to do backward.

Juliet: It is only backwards so long as you are a man.

Peter: Would you like to cut in?

Samuel and Juliet: NO!

Peter: [laughing] I thought not. Help me Juliet.

[Peter and Samuel stop for a moment. Juliet mimes a partner, she is graceful. Peter circles around her observing. Samuel takes exits and returns with two goblets. He drinks one and offers the other to Peter. Peter is too engrossed in Juliet to notice. Samuel stiffens his posture and waits.]

Peter: That! There. How did you do that?

Juliet: [repeating the step] This?

Peter: Yes that. How come you don’t fall?

Juliet: [Frozen in a dip] He supports me.

Peter: Where is his face.

Juliet: [motioning near her face] Here.

Peter: That’s it! Okay. Let’s go.

Samuel: [hands the glasses to Juliet] My Lady?

Peter: [As Amalthea] My Lord.

[Music resumes. It is a louder and fuller sound. The lights change. Peter and Samuel begin to dance. They are exquisite. Peter has become Lady Amalthea. Juliet sips from the goblet and watches.]

Samuel: [With the same intonation as before] I swear it’s true! Leo found him in the garden completely naked singing to the birds. Ever since then, he is convinced he is some sort of prince, at least that is what he says.

Peter: [As Amalthea] You don’t say! And where is Leo keeping this potential royal gem?

Samuel: Oh that’s the best part! He’s given him the entire west wing of [Italian for monster] manor.

[Juliet exits]

Peter: [As Amalthea] The west wing you say?

Samuel: Yes, I believe he said the west. Why?

[Peter turns his back to the door. Jack enters. Jack is dressed for school. He sees Peter but cannot see Samuel. Jack watches from the door in silence.]

Peter: [As Amalthea] It appears the light of this prince has blinded Leo to secrets he once knew.

Samuel: A secret your ladyship is willing to reveal?

Peter: [As Amalthea] How would you like a gander at this prince?

Samuel: [performing the dip] You have my undivided attention.

Peter: [As Amalthea – hushed in a whisper] I have you just as I want.

[Jack drops his books and papers scatter, and the noise destroys the scene. The music stops. The lights change. Samuel’s ability to support Peter/Amalthea is lost. Peter falls to the floor. Samuel is embarrassed to have dropped her. Peter is embarrassed to have been caught. Jack collects his books. Samuel attempts to help Peter/Amalthea up, but he cannot. Mortified he exits. Peter gets up on his own.]

Jack: [while collecting his books] Sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt.

Peter: [helping Jack collect the papers.] Uhm…interrupt what?

Jack: Oh…well…I saw you…um…dancing?…and..uh…talking.

Peter: [embarrassed] Oh yeah, I was just um…practicing.

Jack: It was really impressive.

Peter: Heh…I was just messing around..

Jack: How did you do that one thing though?

Peter: What thing?

Jack: That thing where your body was all bent.

Peter: [Handing Jack his papers] Oh…I don’t know.

Jack: Oh…well it was pretty cool.

Peter: Thanks.

[A moment passes]

Peter: Well I better get going.

Jack: Yeah, I’ll see you around.

[Peter and Jack walk towards each other. They move to get out of each other’s way, but end up mirroring each other. This happens 3 times. Finally, they laugh.]

Peter: [motioning for Jack to walk past him in a Samuel-esque manner] You first.

Jack: [with equally feigned dignity] You are too kind.

[They smile and Peter walks out the door. Jack sits at the desk and finds Peter’s journal.]

Jack: [rushing towards the door] You forgot your…

[Jack words are cut off by the loud school bell.]

[Transition to Scene 3]

Another Creative Experiment

playwright

So I’ve been seeing/reading/working on a lot of things that are theatrically related. So I thought I would give myself a chance at experimenting with a script. This is what I came up with in about 45 minutes. I’d be interested in opinions.

*About Stage directions –  As an actor, director, and writer, I am not tied to stage directions in any way. Anyone who wishes to perform this work is free to completely ignore the stage directions if they decide to do so. I have tried to write them in a manner that is more suggestive, to allow for more interpretation. This is particularly true of the idea behind “transitions” Some directors think of “blackouts” as the bane of theatrical existence, others think of them as a necessary evil for changes in sets. The setting and set of this show is intended to be as theatre friendly as possible. An example is that the desk in Peter’s room can easily be used in school as well. *

[Prologue – Movement/Music – The piece should be brief but serve as a prologue to the show.]

[Transition into Scene 1]

[This is Home. Peter’s Room. Peter’s Sanctuary. A Bed, A desk, a wooden chair. Books litter the floor. Peter is writing in his journal. He stops. He reads what he has written. He tears the page from the journal. He crumples it lightly and tosses it away. He begins again. He stops, slowly looks over his shoulder and looks longingly at the discarded page. He sighs, and collects the page from where it is fallen. As he smoothes the page out he reads it again. He shakes his head, and decides to try it out loud. During the next segment Peter is reading aloud his story, and he is easily excited. He does voices, He whirls about and “gets into character”]

Peter: [as a Narrator] and so the eyes of the mirror burned, and the face above it spoke [imitating the voice of the mirror] “I have no way to lie! You are what you see, if you do not like your reflection either change it or stop looking.” [return to narrator voice] and Juliet ran from the room. She descended the staircase of the palace, but the words of the mirror had already been spoken. No matter how far she ran she could never outrun their meaning, and so she collapsed and sobbed on the cold marble tile. [as sobbing Juliet] “Never! It is a lie! I am beautiful, I am beautiful, I….am…Beautiful!”

Lucy: [from behind the door] You are ugly, You are ugly, You are U-G-L-Y!

Peter: Shut up!

[Lucy Laughs and enters]

Lucy: What are you doing?

Peter: None of your business.

Lucy: It wouldn’t be my business if you were being quiet, but you aren’t. What are you doing.

Peter: Reading.

Lucy: [rolls eyes] Isn’t reading is generally a silent activity?

Peter: Aren’t you a bit old to be asking?

Lucy: Are you calling me old?

Peter: Is that a problem?

Lucy: Why wouldn’t it be?

Peter: Are you sensitive about your age?

Lucy: What is your definition of sensitive?

Peter: Are you adopting my definition?

Lucy: Are you sure they are not the same?

Peter: Do you think that is likely?

Lucy: I asked you.

Peter: Statement! I win. Get out.

Lucy: Uhg…Mom wants you downstairs in an hour.

Peter: Fine.

Lucy: [exiting] Cheater.

Peter: What?

Lucy: [sticking her head back out, is about to say something, and then figures out he is still playing and leaves]

[Peter laughs to himself, and the closet door opens. Inside it is a woman dressed in something resembling a female heroine from a Grimms Fairytale. The woman is Juliet.]

Juliet: You are quite clever.

Peter: [adoring] You are beautiful.

Juliet: I am whatever you say I am.

Peter: I can barely write what you are.

Juliet: Then perhaps you should make me something else.

Peter: If you were something else, you would not be you.

Juliet: I am whatever you say I am. My form, my fashion, my face, are nothing unless you say what they are.

Peter: I like you this way. You are everything a man should want in a woman.

Juliet: Is this what you want?

Peter: No.

Juliet: Then why not make me what you want?

Peter: I can’t.

Juliet: You can.

Peter: I don’t know how.

Juliet: It’s easy. Think about what you want and make me that, just as you made me now.

Peter: It is more complicated.

Juliet: No it is not. You are being….

Peter: [Turning his back to Juliet] You don’t know! Stop talking or I will make you mute! I can have Captain Rab cut out your tongue!

Juliet: [stifling a scream] You are cruel.

Peter: You make me so.

[Juliet approaches Peter but does not touch him. She then returns to the closet]

Spring Awakening Revisited

spring

Last night I attended Spring Awakening for the 5th time.  It was an incredible evening so I feel the need to supplement my earlier review.

I was very excited upon entering the theatre because both of the adults were being played by the understudies. I had seen Tony Carlin (understudy for the Adult Men) once before, but I had never seen Frances Mercanti-Anthony play the adult women.

I am not sure if it was the absence of Christine Estabrook and Glenn Fleshler, who normally play the adults, that had the cast so energized last night, or if it was perhaps the knowledge that the show is soon to end, but whatever it was, it really made the show feel completely new, exciting, and different.

Alexandra Socha (Wendla) has certainly grown over the past 4 times I have seen her play Wendla. She still lacks the confidence needed in the shows opening, but she quickly salvages a few  sour notes into a solid performance. It was nice to see her play off of Ms. Mercanti-Anthony as her mother, who brought a lot of maternal warmth to the role. The first scene was still funny, but in a different way than it is with Christine Estabrook. Ms. Socha has truly seemed to delve into her character at every moment, and she has abandoned what I described as “quizzical inflections” on many of her lines.

Hunter Parrish as Melchior was in rare form last night as well. Perhaps the best acting of Melchior I have seen to date came out of Mr. Parrish last night. Of course, it seemed to come with a price, as Mr. Parrish strained on notes I had seen him his consistently the past 4 times I saw the show. However, to an audience member with less knowledge of the show and vocal fundamentals it probably went by unnoticed.

The most notable difference for both Hunter Parrish and Alexndra Socha was the final scene of act 1 and the beginning of act 2, where the two have simulated sex on stage. Most of the time this scene is well acted, but last night the two seemed absolutely on fire with passion for the other. The sex seemed to last longer, with additional moaning. It was exciting to watch. However, it certainly made Melchior look more like a rapist than normal.Whenever I take someone to the show, I often ask them what they think of that moment in the show. Do they view it as rape or not? Most people say that it meets the definition of rape, but is more complicated. Although it certainly maintained the complication, Melchior’s darker tone of voice, seemingly lack of patience or tenderness, and sheer physicality certainly made it harder to view Melchior in any way innocent.

Gerard Canonico has made large steps in making his own Moritz. Every time I feel he is better and better. The scene where he questions his father about what would happen if he failed was incredibly moving, which speaks not only to Mr. Canonico but to Tony Carlin as well. I was also incredibly impressed by Mr. Canonico’s vocal performance of “I don’t do sadness” and “And Then There Were None” which were not only pitch perfect but beautifully acted. The fact that he could be crying one minute and angrily singing the next, was truly impressive.

I would of course feel bad if I did not mention Matt Doyle and Blake Daniel. Matt Doyle still wins my praise as best male vocalist in the cast, and his “Desdemona” monologue never ceases to be both entertaining and awkward. Mr. Doyle and Mr. Daniel were blessed with a rather fun audience and therefore their love scene went off with additional hilarity. It was nice that they knew how to handle holding for the additional laughs, and proved they certainly can work the crowd.

My favorite female singer, Emma Hunton, appeared slightly under the weather last evening. This made me sad, as I feel she is the best Ilse the show has ever had. She managed to sing on pitch, but her ability to entirely suck in a room was not at full strength. Her rendition of “Blue Wind” was still wonderful though.

The women in the cast on a whole actually were in the best vocal shape I had ever heard them last night. Their harmonies which have normally been shakey or simply not there, were absolute perfection last night. I felt I was listening to embelishments on the score which really enriched the female presence.

The men were alright. They seemed to speak latin during “All That’s Known” in a higher pitch last night which was a little strange, but not bad. Andrew Durand was a wonderful Georg, and his sexual dream sequence with his piano teacher was absolutely hilarious. I am not sure he needs to add to much to the end of  “Touch Me” as it starts looking more like “American Idol” audition, and less like all of the kids singing about their problems with physical isolation.

The last bit of my review is about the only “new” actor I saw last night. Ms. Frances Maercanti-Anthony. I thought she brought a lot of new things to the show. She felt more maternal, more loving. However, she does not do as good a job at differentiating her characters as Christine Estabrook. In addition, her reading of the letter to Moritz was rather hard to listen to. She seemed to thing Mrs. Gabore (Melchior’s mother) was less than sincere in her letter, which I whole heartedly disagreed with. Her first scene as Wendla’s mother, and her portrayal of Martha’s mother were her best moments. I particularly loved both her posture and inflection as Martha’s mother, capturing the pain of knowing what her daughter was going through but not feeling strong enough or able enough to stop it.

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