Saturday, March 31, 2012

Larry disagrees!

Fans of critical bickering may enjoy this.  After my poke at Larry Stark's "What's a real play, Tom?? Please enlighten us!!" note in my review of The Play About the Baby, I got this email from the proprietor of The Theatre Mirror this morning:

"A self-indulgent send-up of the French"?
To Tom Garvey

I just had a magnificent theatrical experience! I saw a short one-act play that couldn't exist without inspired projected effects that interacted with live action, that told an involving story about people involved in a compelling situation of high emotional seriousness.

No, I don't mean "The Andersen Project" --- I saw that Last night, when you were somewhere else in the Cutler Majestic thrilling to it a second time; and, frankly, I was bored at that cute and self-indulgent send-up of the French that looked to me an irrelevant slice-of-quaint-life --- sort of "This American Life" with pictures.
No, I'm talking about an actual PLAY called "On Ego" by Mick Gordon and Paul Broks that the Science Fiction Theatre Company is doing at The Factory Theatre. I think, unlike the expensive spread, it really fulfilled your dictum that "A 'play' in the traditional sense is something that has a premise, a theme, a rising action that develops that theme, compelling characters, a climax or conclusion (or an anti-climax) . . ."
But then, what do I know about Real Plays?
"On Ego" starts with a fascinating little lecture defining the brain as a pound or so of firing neurons, within which there is no "soul" in control; "the brain is a story-telling mechanism, and the story it tells is --- You." So, if one could scan and totally duplicate every single atom in your body, that duplicate would contain your every memory and idea --- it would BE you. If some day (This is The SCIENCE FICTION THEATER Company, remember) all a person's atoms could be scanned and the information sent somewhere and re-constituted, the result at the end would be identical to the person --- so the original could be -- whoosh! -- destroyed, because two "people" can't live the same life, can they?
But what if, by an anomalous malfunction, it wasn't?
Now complicate that premise with another, simpler problem: the hero's wife has a "butterfly tumor" in her own brain that gradually interferes with her life and memory and, since it's unoperable, will kill her.
Eric McGowan and Alissa Cordiero play that pair of genuinely star-crossed lovers, with Chuck Schwager as her father and the operator of the teleportation machinery. Brian McCarthy provides fascinating ever-changing projected abstract backgrounds, and effects involving pictures (or in some cases live-action shots?) of actors, with live actors interacting with them. Dan Grund directed. I think they all did a stunning job of making this English play come to life this side of the Atlantic .
Oh, and one irrelevant note: I'm told the seat I sat in at the Cutler last night would cost anyone else $79.00; the Scioence Fiction Theater Company will charge you only $20.00 --- but hurry, because as of tonight half the seats in The Factory are already taken; apparently I can't say the same of the show at the Cutler.
===Anon. (a k a larry stark)
To check on Tom Garvey's differing opinions, Click HERE and scroll down.

"On Ego" (30 March - 15 April)

To which I replied:

Well, maybe I can make it to the Factory Theater tonight, I'll have to see. But, you know, you do play on a kind of tilted playing board with this type of jibe; you know as well as I do that I'm not about to trash a small production if it doesn't work out, or even say the sort of snide things you've said about "The Andersen Project." Which I note, btw, you haven't actually reviewed - nor have you offered any analysis here of what you liked about "On Ego;" meanwhile I'm still mulling over the complexity over what I think you've mistakenly imagined is an "irrelevant slice-of-quaint-life" and a "self-indulgent send-up of the French." (??) Oh, and by the way - do I take it then that you DO know what "a real play" is, after all? Thanks for your note, Tom

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