True Wit Is Nature to Advantage Dress’d

To paraphrase Alexander Pope, Richard Bean’s One Man, Two Guvnors is what we oft have seen, but ne’er so well—for the most part, that is. Continue reading “True Wit Is Nature to Advantage Dress’d”

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What Moment Does Resurrection Choose?

The silent agony of three women living in a cavernous home in Los Angeles is suddenly interrupted by the introduction of Roscoe (Gary Cole), a Cervantes professor who is working on some sort of video project with the family’s youngest daughter, Sally (Julianne Nicholson).  The home has no patriarch—”Whitmore” left years ago—and Roscoe himself has recently abandoned his wife and children at the late age of sixty-five.  Sally, cold, verbally brutal, is still recovering emotionally from a heart transplant she had as a child (a deep scar runs from her collar bone to her naval), while her older sister, Lucy (Jenny Bacon), takes care of their fading mother, Mable (Lois Smith).  There is a nurse, Elizabeth (Betty Gilpin), who shares Sally’s scar and is possibly a physical manifestation of her donor, a murder victim whose killer was never found. Continue reading “What Moment Does Resurrection Choose?”

What We Talk About When We Talk About Sex

For those of us whose first sexual experiences took place in childhood bedrooms, high school bathrooms, and community swimming pools, the people who choose to remain abstinent seem like members of some kind of reverse freak show, where everyone is fascinatingly boring.  Just as foreign as the bearded lady or the conjoined twins is the clean-cut, Jesus loving boy whose cool smile and perfectly parted hair reveal none of the inner turmoil of virginity.  This is the draw of Do Me a Little, Marissa Kohn’s tragic and often funny new play about the first night of marriage between two Mormons, Brigham (Trey Gerrald), a closeted homosexual, and Mandy (Ms. Kohn), an overweight girl who had been written off as an old maid at twenty-seven. Continue reading “What We Talk About When We Talk About Sex”

Venus in Stilletos

Victor L. Cahn has written a book on gender and power in the plays of Harold Pinter, and his new play, Getting the Business, feels like a riff on the issues raised in his predecessor’s work.  Billed somewhat misleadingly as a “noir farce”—probably because it features a femme fatale—it is more like a black comedy in the tradition of The Homecoming and Dangerous Liaisons; John Lahr recently described the former as proving that “words were [not] just vessels of meaning … [but] weapons of defense,” and indeed, in Getting the Business, the dialogue is rarely more than superficial noise that lightly clothes more sinister intentions. Continue reading “Venus in Stilletos”

Back in the town of Bnei Brak

Gilad Shalit has returned home.  He is plumped up, safe, and writing about sports.  But the questions raised by his capture and release linger, so it is appropriate for the Diverse City Theater Co. to revive Lee Blessing’s Two Rooms, a 1988 play about the kidnapping of an American professor in Beirut.  As Michael (Curran Connor) remains locked in a small room, his wife, Lainie (Bree Michael Warner), juggles a government bureaucrat (Dawn Evans) and a sensationalist reporter (Victor Lirio) and is sometimes visited by her husband in her dreams.  In an act of symbolic solidarity, she “cleanses” his office, getting rid of every item except a modest carpet; both she and Michael, then, are trapped by their surroundings.  At one point, she fondly recalls his eyes—all women love eyes, she says smilingly—but for most of the first act Michael is blindfolded.  Mr. Shalit is not the only victim of terrorism evoked by this production.  Occasionally, photos are projected behind the actors, a familiar black rectangle cutting through the center of them, obscuring some of their content.  To borrow a phrase from Art Spiegelman, these characters are living in the shadow of no towers. Continue reading “Back in the town of Bnei Brak”

If in the First Act You Have Hung a Pistol On the Wall…

In the winter of 1932, Hitler discovered one of his trusted colonels in the company of a thirteen-year-old boy.  He removed all but one bullet from a 9mm Luger, handed it to the man and left the room, expecting him to do the honorable thing.  But the colonel valued his own life more than Hitler’s.  He ran out of his room stark naked, pointed the pistol at the future dictator’s head, and fired—but the gun jammed and history bore the brunt of the mechanical failure. Continue reading “If in the First Act You Have Hung a Pistol On the Wall…”