Sunday, October 29, 2017

Something on Sunday, 10/29

I keep thinking I'll be back to blogging on the regular and I truly will.

But for today's Something on Sunday, I want to talk about two amazing plays that I've seen in the past two weeks.

I saw the Broadway in Boston touring cast of the musical Fun Home, based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel. It was gorgeous, and such a pleasure!  I didn't actually love the comic when I read it years ago; the collection of scenes from the author's uncomfortable childhood didn't try to come together as a story, or even as portraits exactly. The book almost deliberately refused to draw conclusions, only presented things as they occurred.

The play, though, focused on the throughline of comparing her experience with her father's, and examining her father's character.  It added charm and humanity that the book often lacked--even in the happiest moments of the book, no one smiles--probably because in real life, they did not.

The score breaks down the emotional complexities and gives her father's character an inner life that is invaluable in this story.  I tried listening to it before I went and I couldn't click with it--there are large chunks of dialogue on the cast album, and out of context they didn't catch me.  But now that I've seen it, I listen over and over again.  It's sweet and sad and funny (go listen to Changing My Major!) and I loved it a lot.

The other show I saw was a premiere of a new play called A Guide for the Homesick, by Ken Urban.  It wouldn't have crossed my radar, but the playwright was Lily's professor in college, so we decided to go.  All I knew was that it was about two men who meet at a hotel in Amsterdam; one is on vacation, the other on his way home from working in Africa. A tense encounter, etc. 

Two guys talking in a room is always the kind of description that makes me nervous--are we just going to learn about their souls and nothing will happen?  But no, a lot happened, and in the best way. It was tragic and horrible and I loved--LOVED--every character.  The acting was incredible; the character switching that was required was intense and done flawlessly.  There was a lot of darkness, but there was also a lot of connecting, and healing. 

I don't know, there are a lot of reveals and I hope this becomes a famous play that you'll all see someday, so I don't want to spoil anything.  And if you're in Boston, you have another week to see it--you should, go, do that ASAP (the Huntington, at the BCA).  But I think what made it amazing is that the playwright is so deft--there are moments that feel kind of like, ugh, theatrical device--in real life the guy who says "maybe I should go now" would just actually leave the room, but it's a play that won't happen unless he stays, so he does.  But as the story unfolds, you realize, no, this is EXACTLY what this character would do--this is him.  There is nothing forced about this.

It was so damned good, and such a wonderful surprise.  God, I love good theater. 

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