Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Weekender, Part Deux--Full Evening of Defenestration.

Saturday night, after the beloved Wahoos lost to the hated Miami Hurricanes--who I have despised with a white-hot loathing since I was in the womb--I needed a place to let the healing begin. And not just the healing from the college gridiron, but from, you know, the Other Thing. Election Day and Everything After.

It's worth pointing out that Election Day was actually pretty fantastic. I got up early, voted, came to work, was told I'd be getting a little something extra in the ol' take home, and then I set up to scan the information coming my way from all over the country. When we got the first batch of exit polls, we were ecstatic. When we got the second, it was like we were all totally high. During those early afternoon hours, if I had wanted to jack off to those exit polls, my coworkers and office-mates (we share office space with a lefty strategy group) would have been okay with that. "Hey, jacking off?" they would have said. "Heck, I don't blame you. Those exit polls are so fucking hot and sexy. Keep right at it! In fact, I think I"m going to jack it, too." And we would have all jacked it. But, sadly, Election Day gave way to Election Night which gave way to the funereal atmosphere of the next morning--where no one was jacking it. For that matter, I doubt we would have been allowed to. Well...maybe one, like, pity jack. But that would have been it.

So, I needed to finally get the ol' system purged of the political throatpunching I had endured, luckily, I had just the gig lined up--The Accidental Death of an Anarchist, at Rorschach Theatre.

Hell fucking yeah. That is the stuff right there. Nobel Laureate Dario Fo's best-known work is getting the up-to-the-minute treatment it deserves by the Schach. It is not to be missed, people. Go. Go right now! Get off your ass and go! Get! Move, people! Actually, calm down. It's not playing tonight. I was just being a dick.

Wife of Deceiver and I showed up a bit beforehand, where we met up with The DCepticon and some other folks. Here's where I, unfortunately, missed the chance to Make a Difference. While standing on Columbia Road, we were approached by a homeless man who was beseeching alms, as is their wont, which we provided, as was ours. He walked down the street, seemingly passing on, but suddenly reappeared in front of the Casa del Pueblo. Wife of Deceiver and I walked into the theatre, and passed down the hall for the theatre door, where we met Schach co-AD Randy Baker. We hit him up with our "where should we sit" question and headed in. As we were going into the theatre, we noticed that the homeless man from outside had come down the hall and was talking to Randy. We knew Randy to be a capable mitigator, so we thought nothing of it.

Now. Upon entering the theatre, there is a little piece of pre-show business where the Guard from the play asks you to walk inside through a "terrorist detector", and he makes little alarm sounds and hilariously gets patrons to do things like join hands and sway back and forth or he gives them hugs or asks them to twirl around. Funny preshow. Now, as I entered, he beeped at me and started patting me down. While he was doing this, the homeless man appeared and entered. I could barely make out what he said to the guy playing the Guard, but the Guard said: "Oh sure, go right ahead." Right about now, I was wondering if this was the best course of action, but then I thought: "Hmmm. He was talking to Randy. And now this actor wasn't giving him any trouble. And Rorschach is a tad weird as far as theatres go. And we are in the middle of some pre-show funny. So I'm going to let it go."

After the Guard had finished his funny biz with us, Wife and I went to our seats. I was sitting down, when once again the homeless man caught my attention. This time, he was standing across the room, near the edge of the stage, by a hatrack with a hat and coat on it. As I was watching, the man took the hat off of the rack, walked behind a piece of set, appeared to try it on and take it off again, then emerge and head for the door. I watched him cross the room, fully expecting him to be stopped. But I wondered...okay, maybe this has something to do with something. I looked for the (frankly, v.v.cute) Stage Manager to try to read what she was thinking. VVCSM was clearly looking at what was going on, but it was too difficult to tell from across the room if she was looking on in knowing humor or in pure flabbergast. After a moment, the perhaps-stunned VVCSM came down from the board and made a beeline after the homeless man, but in the confusion, he managed to elude her.

I felt really bad, of course, because I could have, at any time, stopped this from happening. I clearly had Missed an Opportunity to Make a Difference. I was pretty dumbstruck in my own right, and totally unsure if maybe the whole matter didn't actually have some pre-planned point to it that was germane to the show, but through it all, my trusty bullshit detector was sounding alarms. The hat, by the way, was never recovered. They went ahead with a different hat. I wish I had stopped the guy now, and gently got the hat back. As Randy pointed out to me, the worst people are the ones who, in a time of crisis, sit on the sidelines and plead neutrality. He's totally right about that, and he's also right about how cool it would be to be buried in the Zoroastrian fashion. But, I'd like to point out that if you want to just take something off a theatre set, just walk in to any show that Randy's working, and take what you want.

Hey, homeless dude. Enjoy that hat. You earned it.

Anyway...Accidental Death, is a surging, scabrous, utterly hilarious production that is going wring laughter from and sooth the frayed nerves of all you patriots in the reality-based community. It's a broad, playful farce in the political tradition of Aristophanes that just batters you with gags while serving up jabs at the political right. In keeping with tradition, the text is rendered very current, and I have to say, is peppered with ideas that even had me flatfooted with how well reasoned and frankly original they were. I've seen Grady Weatherford's directorial work on one other occasion (Family Stories), and while he definitely has earned his reputation as a director who demands a certain amount of go-for-broke reck and abandon out of his actors, it should be pointed out that he doesn't simply unload chaos on the audience and let it flail insanely. He has a real eye for composition and a real knack for creating moments that just sear right onto your brainpan and stick with you. Accidental Death really stokes this balance well--I'm still walking around, calling to mind some of the onstage pictures--still enjoying them, actually.

And while thsi cast is first-fucking-rate, I have got to give mad props to Karl Miller, who played the Fool (the play's singular agent provocateur) and delivered a performance that is holy shit amazing. Maybe one of the best five or six onstage performances I have ever seen in my life. The thing about this particular role, is that right off the bat, you have to be funny as shit. That's the first given. Then, you have got to be utterly resolute in you pursuit of onstage attention, awake to whatever stimulus is gonna push, push, push, you because if you flag for a second playing this part the play goes in the toilet. It takes absolute constancy and commitment. Add to that the fact that this particular character has got to come across as having a real kind of danger lurking underneath the skin, like a stockpile of fuel just waiting for ignition AND you have to earn the audience's sympathy--really, you have to get the audience rooting for you--and you are talking about a role that is work, work, work. Well, Miller fucking brings it. All I could think about afterwards was the sheer abundance of craft that was displayed, and I'm not even getting into the vocal stuff that would bore anyone who wasn't a voice teacher like me, but nonetheless has me completely rethinking what the A-plus standard should be. Damn, son. And with the rest of that crew binging and banging right along with Miller? DAMN, son. Big, fat, fucking grin on MY face.

This show continues through the 21st. You are a total and complete nincompoop if you have the chance to see it and fail.

No comments: