Sunday, September 08, 2013

 I can't believe this is post #700!

I realize I haven't written here in awhile and haven't posted any recent pictures. I've had lots of great experiences in the past month, and you can see some photos from those experiences here. I visited New Orleans (great food and great music), saw The Bridges of Madison County at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and, most recently, went to the U.S. Open.

I just finished Marisha Pessl's Night Film; I read it in two days (and it's not exactly a short novel). I couldn't put it down. I love Marisha Pessl. I haven't read Special Topics in Calamity Physics since it came out (seven years ago), but now I want to go back and reread it just so I can hear more of Marisha Pessl's voice. I hope she doesn't wait seven more years before publishing her next novel.

I've seen three shows in the last two days, two of which were fabulous. (Mr. Burns was not fabulous in my opinion, so I won't talk about that; I usually only write about positive theatre experiences here. Ben Brantley loved the show, though, and called it "downright brilliant," making it one of his critic's picks, so what do I know? I think the fact that I've never watched The Simpsons hindered me with that one.) I saw The Tempest at Shakespeare in the Park on Friday. It's a magnificent production featuring some great Broadway performers, including Norm Lewis and Laura Benanti, as well as 200 New Yorkers from various community organizations. It's quite ambitious to have so many people onstage, but it made for some fantastic moments of theater. It was well worth the 4.5 hours I spent in line for tickets (and it was a beautiful day to wait in Central Park).

Last night I saw The Glass Menagerie on Broadway. I remember studying this play in college and writing essays on it; it greatly moved me when I read it, so I was eager to see it performed onstage. This production is absolutely perfect; it's simply exquisite. I cannot say enough good things about it and cannot imagine a better staging of the play. The production transferred to Broadway from Cambridge, and Ben Brantley's New York Times rave review of that production expresses my feelings better than I can. Zachary Quinto plays Tom, and I'm a fan of his so I was eager to see his performance; I loved seeing him onstage in Angels in America (he's probably best known as Sylar on Heroes, Spock in the new Star Trek movies, and for his role in American Horror Story). He plays Tom with weariness that weighs down his every step and anguish and vulnerability that contort his face; his performance made the character resonate with me in in ways that didn't hit me when I read the play. He's heartbreaking, and he's the soul of the play. Cherry Jones (whom Mr. Brantley calls "perhaps the greatest stage actress of her generation") is fantastic as Amanda. When she reminisces about the past to escape the reality of the present, she transports you into those memories, and the shift back to reality is painful. Celia Keenan Bolger (a theatre favorite of mine; she most recently starred in Peter and the Starcatcher) is Laura, and she's a perfect mix of fear, hope, surprising strength, and eventual devastation (which sounds like a strange assortment of feelings, but it's what I sensed and it works). This play is gorgeous and devastating and proof that Tennessee Williams was a genius. This production feels like the perfect example of what the play should look like onstage. If you are in New York in the next few months, go see it.

No comments: