Thursday, June 07, 2007

An Interview With The Author


Do you know Matthew Freeman, his work, or why his work is so unique and important? If not, don't worry. He'll fill you in.

In his latest play, An Interview With the Author, Freeman, playing himself, answers questions from a prerecorded interviewer (also himself) and explains to the audience what makes his voice in the theatre scene so unique. See, he's the product of a broken marriage. Many people in the audience have divorced parents, but that doesn't make them unique. After all, if they were so unique, why didn't they write The Death of King Arthur? No further questions, Your Honor.

Later, however, after asking and answering obsequious and fawning questions of the "Seriously, how did you get to be so great?" variety, the interview starts to devolve into an impromptu therapy session (much to the author’s chagrin) as the interviewer asks a few more probing questions about the author’s neuroses and hang-ups (I'll give you a hint: his mother is involved). Then, the author's troubled psyche starts to fracture.

I should note that throughout this, although the interview reveals what a head case the author is, his skills or abilities as a writer are never questioned or challenged. Hey, he may be an emotional cripple, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a genius.

Even if you’ve never seen Freeman’s work before, An Interview With the Author is hysterical. In addition to it being showing an insightful look at what goes on in the mind of a critically-acclaimed Off-off Broadway playwright (being one myself, Freeman admits to a number of faults and foibles I've yet to admit publicly) and delivering exactly what it promises (as well as a bit more), it’s one of the funniest plays I’ve seen this year. Although we're not halfway through the year yet, this is a strong contender for my end-of-year "Top Ten" list.

Metafiction is incredibly tough to do well. When done wrong, it can be insufferable (the phrase "self-absorbed navel-gazing tripe" doesn't do the concept justice). Often, it just provides some tongue-in-cheek amusement without too much "meat." When done right, it can offer a fascinating "inside baseball" tour through the creative process. An Interview definitely falls into the latter category.

Seeming to perfectly blend Steven Soderbergh's commentary track for Schizopolis (where he interviews himself) with Beckett's Krapp’s Last Tape, it never feels forced or excessively pretentious (it is, after all, playing as part of the Brick's Pretentious Festival).

Plus, as I mentioned before, it's hysterical. (It really bears repeating.)

Freeman’s creative heterosexual life partner Kyle Ancowitz directs the piece with grace and impeccable comic timing. David DelGrosso and David Johnston also make amusing cameos in this not-so-aptly labeled one-man show.

Afterwards, Matthew had wondered to the crew who followed him to the bar across the street if his play made people feel uncomfortable. I'm sure it does. Considering I have no problem with work that makes the audience squirm and agree with Conan O'Brien that the best laughs are those pained, wincing laughs, An Interview didn’t discomfort me at all.

It made me laugh. A lot.

An Interview With The Author plays Sunday, June 10 at 6:30 p.m. and Friday, June 15 at 7 p.m. at the Brick Theatre in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. For tickets go here.

Writing plays to hear my own words,

James "Total Narcissist" Comtois

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5 Comments:

Blogger Freeman said...

I deserve this praise.

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Ancowitz said...

I do not.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Jamespeak said...

Aw, shucks, Kyle. Sure you do, ya big lug.

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Ancowitz said...

I do, however, self-identify as a "lug".

(Doesn't that mean "lesbian until graduation?")

3:31 PM  
Blogger Jamespeak said...

Yes. Yes it does.

3:35 PM  

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