Monday, June 30, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Stitching Review For nytheatre.com
My review of Stitching is now up on nytheatre.com.
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All the publicity materials for Anthony Neilson's new play Stitching, including the provocative poster of a woman with stitches going from her cheek to her neck, hype up that it's an intense and relentless... [keep reading]
Monday, June 23, 2008
George Carlin, 1937-2008
"Here's another question I have. How come when it's us, it's an abortion, and when it's a chicken, it's an omelette? Are we so much better than chickens all of a sudden? When did this happen, that we passed chickens in goodness. Name 6 ways we're better than chickens. See, nobody can do it! You know why? 'Cause chickens are decent people. You don't see chickens hanging around in drug gangs, do you? No, you don't see a chicken strapping some guy into a chair and hooking up his nuts to a car battery, do you? When's the last chicken you heard about come home from work and beat the shit out of his hen, huh? Doesn't happen, 'cause chickens are decent people."
One of the most influential stand-up comedians of the pasty 30 years, George Carlin, died last night in California of heart failure at the age of 71.
According to Bloomberg News, Carlin went to St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, yesterday after complaining of chest pain and died at 5:55 p.m. local time, publicist Jeff Abraham told the Associated Press.
He had a history of cardiovascular issues, including several heart attacks.
"You know something people don't talk about in public anymore? Pussy farts."
Carlin was especially noted for his political and black humor and his observations on language, psychology, and religion along with many taboo subjects. He gained prominence with such routines as "The Seven Words You Can Never Say on TV," which landed him in a Milwaukee jail. The subject of Carlin's routine in 1978 reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that the FCC had the power to prohibit stations from airing profanities when children may be able to hear them.
Carlin's most recent stand-up routines were primarily focused on attacking the flaws in modern-day America. He often took on contemporary political issues in the United States and satirized the excesses of American culture.
"I don't have pet peeves, I have major psychotic fucking hatreds!"
He was considered by many to be a successor to the late Lenny Bruce and was described by Comedy Central as the second greatest stand-up comedian of all time behind Richard Pryor, and right before Lenny Bruce. He was a frequent performer and guest host on The Tonight Show during the Johnny Carson era and was the first person to host Saturday Night Live.
He is survived by his second wife, Sally Wade; his first wife, Brenda, died in 1997.
The Kennedy Center announced five days ago that Carlin was to be awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
Promising to not come in your mouth,
James "The Check's In The Mail" Comtois
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The Honest-to-God True Story of the Atheist
"Don't make the mistake of believing that because you weren't punished immediately for a sin that there is no God or that sin goes unpunished. If you steal or lie or blaspheme against Him, God isn't going to hit you with a lightning bolt or turn you into a pillar of salt. He will give you space and time to repent. In some cases, that will be years. But ultimately, if you don't repent, you will be punished."
Is The Honest-to-God True Story of the Atheist a deconstructionist take on faith and one's submission to the will of God, an examination on our culture's sick obsession with pharmaceuticals, or the longest dick joke in theatrical history? Whatever it is, Dan Trujillo is playing a very crafty shell game with his newest play, The Honest-to-God True Story of the Atheist. It's kind of brilliant.
I know writing "kind of brilliant" sounds like damning with faint praise, but I don't mean to be. The Honest-to-God True Story of the Atheist doesn't just take cheap potshots at the faithful (or faith) or at those of the more atheistic persuasion. Instead, it is a very sly and crafty show that challenges and toys with the audiences' preconceptions and expectations.
The play opens with a huckster salesman (Daryl Lathon) selling the audience Viagra, wondering, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if people always offered a fair deal, this for that, honesty, no tricks, no subterfuges?" When a flimflam salesman asks this, we know he's offering anything but.
The salesman asks the audience if anyone is willing to try his Viagra for free. Two members of his audience, a husband and wife, come down to accept. The wife (Jennifer Gordon Thomas) announces that her husband (Abe Goldfarb) is impotent, much to the husband's chagrin. To humor her, he takes the pill, and is told that it takes an hour to take effect.
So, in the meantime, the three characters decide to relay a story about an atheist who steals a statue of Baby Jesus from a nativity scene and dismembers it, proving (or attempting to prove) that if the Christian God exists, there would be some sort of retribution. A miracle would prevent him from committing the deed, or God would punish him, or something.
However, not everything goes according to the atheist's plan. The Baby Jesus bleeds when it is cut open. The atheist burns his hands when he tries to disfigure the statue with acid. Then, through a series of bizarre and unfortunate events, the atheist finds himself in prison, and on Death Row.
Still, he refuses to believe. He refuses to submit himself to the will of God. He refuses to get down on his knees and pray.
Now, I will absolutely not give away the ending, except to say that yes, the two stories (the one about the atheist and the one about the couple buying black market Viagra) converge. And that said convergence is about as big a deliberate "Screw You" to the audience as you can get. Again, I mean that as a compliment.
The three actors ably perform multiple roles, slipping in and out of different costumes and playing different characters with ease (Lathon, Thomas and Goldfarb are all billed in the program as themselves). Isaac Butler smoothly directs this modern-day vaudeville story-within-a-story (Trujillo himself has referred to the play as "an unfair vaudeville"), keeping up with the script's constant changes in pace and tone. There are even some nice, catchy songs thrown in for good measure (although it's not a musical), sung by the cast and accompanied by keyboardist Wes Matthews.
So, what are we left with at the end? What we're left with, I'm afraid, is a mess. A big, big, wonderful, wonderful mess that we have to mull over after the show is over. The Honest-to-God True Story of the Atheist deliberately bucks our expectations and leaves us with many more questions than answers.
If you go in trying to guess what the show is trying to tell you (i.e., is this making fun of faith or making fun of atheism), or if you think the show is going to flatter your particular religious or secular point of view, you're going to be one unhappy camper. Just like the con man roping you into a shell game, the folks who made this are too smart for that.
It's kind of brilliant.
The Honest-to-God True Story of the Atheist plays for three more nights (June 19, 20 & 21) at UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place between First Avenue and Avenue A). For tickets go here.
Getting down on his knees,
James "Con Man" Comtois
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Vincent River Review For nytheatre.com
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Getting Ready For June
Sorry I've been M.I.A. for a while, but I've been swamped with work and off at mortgage conventions (seriously) so I haven't had a whole lot of computer access recently. Hopefully that will change in the not-too-distant future.
With Colorful World now closed, it looks as though June is officially Playgoing Month for Little Jimmy, with five (count 'em, five) plays on the lineup for this week alone, including this show tomorrow that I'll be reviewing for Martin.
I've also made reservations to see this on opening night, for which I'm very excited.
Anyway, how are you?
Your favorite tranny,
James "Pretty" Comtois
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
At The Brick Film Festival: Suspicious Package
In Association with The Brick Theater
An Interactive Noir
written & created by Gyda Arber & Wendy Coyle
with Jason Godbey
Gyda Arber - David Arthur Bachrach - Aaron Baker - Jason Godbey - Ian W. Hill - Heath Kelts - Iracel Rivero - Brandi Robinson - Heather Lee Rogers - Ariana Siegel - Ken Simon
Told via Zune Media Players, the story unfolds as audience members (four at a time) are guided through their roles with both aural and visual cues. Video flashbacks and narrative voiceovers fill in your backstory while maps of locations and your dialogue are displayed on screen. Part theatrical experience, part live video game, Suspicious Package immerses its audience within the gritty chiaroscuro world of film noir, where not everything is black and white.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Post-Mortem of Sorts/Open Forum
I was really hoping to do this massive post-mortem on Colorful World now that the show has gone up into the Great Production in the Sky, but I have found (much to my chagrin, albeit to nobody's surprise) a huge pile of work from my day job that needs to be done, so it looks as though such an exhaustive assessment on the show will not be happening anytime soon.
I know, I know, I'm as disappointed as you are.
(My super-short assessment: I loved what the cast & crew did, I was very happy with it, and even though we had good houses, I wish more people could see it.)
So, in the vein of Mr. Freeman's open forum on Star Wars, if anyone who saw/read the play is interested, and has any questions about the show, by all means, fire away and I'll see if I can natter about it in any coherent way.
Just be forewarned questions of the, "Why do you suck so badly, Comtois?" ilk will most likely be met with answers of the, "Because go fuck yourself, that's why," persuasion. Not that you can't ask those kinds of questions, mind you. I'm just saying that's how I'll answer.
Also be forewarned that my answers will be on the writing aspect of the show, not the direction, design, or acting angles. If you ask me why Overman did such and such, I'll answer you to the best of my knowledge and memory of what I was thinking while writing it. You can ask Patrick or Pete the very same question and they could (well, most likely would) give you a completely different answer.
But seriously, any of it's fair game. I'll do my best to answer. So, ask away!
Terrified he's just going to hear crickets,
James "Is This Thing On?" Comtois