Freaking Out Squares

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Play's The Thing

By the grace of G-d and the Jewish holidays, I managed to swing two days off from the brain trust. I spent my first day sleeping and arguing with my psychopharm about the necessity of my taking a so-called "mood stabilizer," particularly since the last one they put me on caused my muscles to ache and my knees to feel like they were coming out of their sockets. Although I suppose it's better than arguing with Upper East Side parents about the eventuality of them getting their children's meds to them like, yesterday. It's like waitressing, but I sit all day. Kind of reminds me of when I worked at Friendly's in high school and folks would come in at five and say they had to be at mass at 5:30. What can I tell you? Go to Wendy's. Don't wait till the last minute and then accuse us of delinquency.

Thursday night, my friend dawnybird and I caught our gal Sarito in a series of one-acts at the Producer's Club (358 W. 44th Street between 8th and 9th). Actually, Sarito was in only one--the last one, as luck would have it--playing a seventy-year-old woman with a penchant for, well, dick. (Sarito, for the record, is 59, and if you've seen her picture on her blog, you'll agree she doesn't look 70.) Although I was tempted to be a bad friend and skip out on the evening, beings that my brain felt like it was encased in cement with a cloud of noxious gas swirling around it, I'm glad I went. My favorite play was a poignant story of an estranged uncle showing up at a young lawyer's office to bring him news of his estranged father and his own impending mortality. There was nothing gratuitous about it, thank god--it's a very easy topic about which to be gratuitous.

Also, it occurred to me as I was watching the first play--a strange number about a woman who lies to her new boyfriend about having cystitis to see if he'll stay with her even though they can't have sex for a month--how strange most plays really are. I can be no more or less articulate than that. Seems like, beginning sometime in the late '60s, that plays started to take on this deliberately "quirky" mien, laden with bizarre character details that do little to service the plot but nonetheless give it an "edge." I'm working on a David Lindsay-Abaire play at the moment, and the husband's character has a sexual fetish for eating Barbie doll heads and shitting them out. The whole play is like that--not about shitting Barbie doll heads, but full of bizarre details that just leave you going, "Huh?" For instance, another character's wife was killed when a huge peanut butter jar they bought at Costco fell on her head. I mean, it's not that I don't enjoy the play, but it's so laden with kooky things that it kind of makes me seasick. What happened to going straight for the action? Oh, for the halcyon days of Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams! Even David Mamet is a welcome respite.

Anyway. Speaking of seasick, that plate of lobster ravioli in tomato cream sauce I ate at the Irish pub next to the Producer's Club severely disagreed with me. Not sure if it was my dairy sensitivity or the presence of some rogue bacteria, but ugh. Not the night before the opera, please!

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