Tuesday, June 17, 2014

     Over the week-end, we attended a local play with some good friends. The venue was an extremely intimate theatre seating about 40-50 people. We sat in the second row, just feet from the actors, a dangerous distance from the spitting zone. The glorified slightly- upholstered card table chairs were comfortable; that is, for the first act which ran 67 minutes. After walking outside during intermission and wandering around the parking lot for 13.5 minutes, we returned to our seats. It was about 4 minutes 31 seconds into the second act when the four of us started shifting in our seats. At one point, I thought my friend was tugging on my dress, but as it turns out, she was attempting to shift from one hip to the other taking my left thigh with her. Mr. Wonderful was tap tap tapping with his left foot while rocking slightly to his left. This meant that the three of us could have gone down like dominos at any point. Fortunately, my friend let go of me, and Mr. W. began to lean right. All of this while the actors began screaming and running to and fro on stage. One spikey-haired character was scantily clad in a speedo, and I was relieved when he fell to the floor to do several push-ups. The female lead sat spread-eagled in Daisy Mae shorts, and I am absolutely convinced that is why Mr. Wonderful stayed awake for the entire performance. Well, I suppose it could have been her DD-cup too that bounced artfully while she was chasing Sir Speedo out the screen door stage left.

     The entire play lasted well over two hours. Now for 20-somethings, this is nothing; but for those of us who are more mature and go to bed at 10:23 on Saturday nights, this was well beyond our full-focus skills. We paid $61 plus tax for the tickets so we had to like the performance. How do you not like something that costs as much as a week’s groceries? 

     We were all so thrilled to get up and make sure we still had circulation in our extremities, we applauded in the car instead of at the theatre. 

     On the way home, we discussed the merits of the production. The set was well-designed, and the actors remembered their lines---a feat that anyone our age considers Oscar-worthy. We all agreed that the script was far-fetched and hardly credible, so knowing the lines was only half the challenge of the troupe.  The male lead shouted for at least ten minutes about the decline of the modern generation comparing reality shows to Howdy Doody. The solilloquy would have been ovation-worthy had it been relevant to the rest of the play. As it was, I was happy we were out of the spitting zone.

     The most memorable part of the play was when the dumpy, loser 58 year-old adopted sister accepted a date by phone. She hadn’t gone out with a man for over 20 years, and her one-sided conversation brillantly captured the thrill of finally meeting someone who was interested in her and her inability to believe it. The audience never saw the guy, but we all pictured him as we would have liked him to be, and that’s the magic of theatre. 

     As in writing, theatre has to capture us in the first few minutes and take us out of our reality and into the story. Had the play been about 75 minutes shorter and the chairs 95% more padded, it might have succeeded. As it was, however, we were relieved to get home by bed time spit-free.