Friday, October 30, 2009

Introducing...Broadway Club!!!

I lived in New York for most of the 90s and in all that time I barely ever ventured anywhere near a theater. Which was ironic because I was sharing an apartment with Tommy Tune and Patti Lupone. They used to get on me all the time about experiencing the joys of live theater. Sometimes they'd leave tickets to their newest shows sticking out of the laundry basket. Sometimes they'd post their reviews up on the fridge door. I consistently failed to take the hint. Frustrated, they'd yell at me: "You're missing so much. It's joyous. It's exhilarating! Look at all the nights you waste going to see second-rate Britpop bands and identikit New York rappers. You never enjoy yourself. Why not treat yourself to something different, something amazing?" They definitely had me on the Britpop accusation--did I really go to see Gene, Sleeper AND Echobelly in one lifetime?-- but I had a ready response. "Just the way you're getting all gushy and emotional and over-the-top is the exact reason I will never go to the theater. It's embarrassing. It's obscenely expensive ( I was on the guest list for all those terrible Britpop shows).It makes me uncomfortable. It's not for me."

But now I feel differently. Now, when I leave LA and head back to New York for recreational visits, I try to take in a few Broadway shows. Maybe I've mellowed. Maybe I'm more open-minded. Maybe I like the fact that cheap tickets are so readily available. Whatever the reason, here are my bite-size reviews of the shows I saw when I was in New York last week:

"After Miss Julie"
Patrick Marber, author of `Closer' and co-creator of Alan Partridge updates a Strindberg classic setting it in 1945 Britain. Starring Sienna Miller as the borderline insane posh girl toying with the affections of chauffeur Jonny Lee Miller. I would have liked this if it had been any good. Sienna Miller can be a decent actress but her entire performance was AHAHAHAHAWAABOOHOOO.

"Citizens Band"
I was dragged along to this. It's a monthly cabaret performed at a downtown theater by a bunch of of actors, musicians, models and celebrity relatives. This one featured the likes of Rain Phoenix, Zoe Kravitz, Jack White's wife Karen Elson and Nina Persson from The Cardigans singing songs from the Great Depression. Zoe Kravitz was probably the best of the rich, privileged cast singing about standing in breadlines and dying of consumption.

"Wishful Drinking"
Carrie Fisher's one-woman show about her dysfunctional life starts off like every nightmare I ever had about live theater. She comes down into the audience! She throws glitter over people! She asks them their names! Even though I was safely ensconced back in row K and she was humiliating the ticket holders in the first row, I could still hear my heart thump in my chest such was my fear that I might be singled out and made to participate. That fear aside, this was a funny, enjoyable show. Fisher has amassed enough calamity-- I woke up next to a dead gay Republican cocaine addict! I turned my husband gay! You can buy a life-size Princess Leia sex doll!-- to more than fill a couple of hours apportioning blame to family members, ex-husbands and George Lucas.

"God Of Carnage"
I had a couple of hours to kill before the curtain went up-- see, I'm fluent in Broadway talk!-- so I went to see `Paranormal Activity' in an all-but-empty cinema. After I emerged--brief review: it FUCKED MY SHIT UP!-- I headed towards the theater only to find my pockets were empty. The tickets were gone! Retracing my steps, I went back to the cinema, looked under the seats and found... the receipt for the theatre tickets but NOT the actual tickets! Paranormal activity, indeed!
This was three-quarters of an exciting play. The seats I got were up in a box that cut off most of the far right side of the stage. It would have been nice if the director had arranged for my benefit that James Gandolfini, Hope Davis, Marcia Gay Hardin and Jeff Daniels restricted their movements to the left and centre of the stage. But it was not to be. From what I saw, `God Of Carnage' was an exercise in unrelieved misanthropy that reveled in the brutality that occurs when the thin veneer of civilization is ripped away and supposedly respectable people start acting like savage beasts. Plus, Hope Davis projectile vomits across the stage.

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