Friday, May 12, 2006

Screaming City

As alluded to yesterday, I emerged from my nap under the desk feeling well enough (the Rx drugs didn't hurt either) to run across town and take in the 8pm performance of the newly opened "Shining City" on Broadway. This performance was part of a fundraising event hosted by the Smith College Club of New York and the ticket prices reflected the fundraising aspect of the night, so naturally I was priced out. However some alumnae purchased tickets and then were unable to attend, so they donated the tickets to young Alums. This was a very kind gesture and it just goes to show that graduating from a school that produces its share of financially successful kind-hearted women with class guilt has its advantages. Kudos to MuppetLover for volunteering and alerting me to the availability to the tickets.

I thought the play was quite brilliant although some people did not get it, dumb Smithies and critics alike. (The woman sitting next to GrahamCrakcer said, "I didn't get it." "Okay," said GrahamCracker patiently. "Let's talk about it. What part didn't you get?" "All of it," said the woman. Oh, Lordy.) I think Newsday's Linder Winer should be punched in the teeth for her line "the bizarrely cast Oliver Platt"- I love Oliver Platt and he does a great job here along with the rest of the cast although Platt and Brian O'Byrne's performances really stand out, Platt's for what he does with words and O'Byrne's for what he does without them. The negative reviews I've seen tend to focus more on the "ghost story" aspect of the play, ignoring the earthly themes raised here about guilt, lonlieness, home and communication. In Ben Brantly's review in the NY Times (maybe you've heard of them, Newsday?) he writes "In terms of construction, "Shining City" is as close to perfection as contemporary playwriting gets. As elliptical as the conversation is, there's not a word or pause that doesn't feed the work's theme or its interconnected, disconnected stories."

I never like to read the reviews until after I've seen a play or a film. Even book reviews, I usually only read the first or two paragraphs and even then you're not safe. I was reading on the subway this morning Nick Hornby's collection of columns he published in Believer magazine wherein he writes about being pissed off that book publishers gave away too many plot points in Dickens' David Copperfield :

... even the snootiest critic/publisher/whatever must presumably accept that we
must all, at some point, read a book for the first time. I know that the
only thing brainy people do with their lives is reread great works of fiction,
but surely even James Wood and Harold Bloom read before they reread? (Maybe
not. Maybe they've only ever reread and that's what separates them from
us. Hats off to them.) Anyway, the great David Gates gives away two or
three major narrative developments in the very first paragraph of his
introduction to my Modern Library edition ... that wouldn't have happened if I'd
been looking for a Grisham adaptation."

So the point of all this is to say, don't read reviews. Unless they're mine. I would never hurt you gentle readers.

While we're talking about dem dere Culture, I want to go to the movies with Der Man tonight and I know that in large part the success of this adventure will depend upon finding a film that he can understand culturally as well as language-wise. I was thinking Inside Man. Too ambitious? Please advise.


Sheena said...

Hmmm.... I think it might be OK. But I could just be saying that because I thought the movie was effing brilliant.

It's pretty straightforward language-wise, and isn't quite as preachy as Spike Lee can be... you should be all right. Also it takes place in New York and he may enjoy that.

Listen for the song in the opening credits. It's awesome.

joe said...

Take him to see Brick. You'll have to explain what a gat is, which is always fun.

Cupcake said...

Der Man's only film requirement was "keine Frauenfilmen" and we easily agreed on Inside Man. However, we missed the showtime by a mile as we were detained in Dylan's Candy Bar. Yes, I seem to have found a man who loves candy as much as I do. So we went to the little cinema next door and watched Friends with Money. I was nervous that he would hate it, especially as we were forced to sit there cranked on sugar. (Oh, I could tell you about the adorable precision he put into mixing our assortment of candy, making me sample every sour gummy he put into the bag, but the preciousness of it would embarass us both.) Actually, he did not hate it and even wanted to discuss some of the relationships after movie, analyzing the relationships with about as much depth as one can muster in one's third language.