Sunday, September 28, 2008

Plays about death

A friend of mine used to joke about the need for a daily catharsis having led him to acting, and at the time I related to that. I'm no longer in need of a daily catharsis, but this weekend I saw three plays about death. Maybe it's fall. Maybe it's me. I enjoyed all three plays immensely, but that's a lot of cathartic action in one weekend.

Thursday: The Hypocrites' Our Town. I've made the bold statement that this might have been one of the top five audience experiences of my life. Easily top ten. This was the right play for me at the right time, which is a gift from the universe, but from the Hypocrites too, because I'm convinced it would be the right play for a lot of people at any time. I left feeling full -- not wrecked but open and optimistic and a bit overwhelmed. I wanted to be surrounded by people afterwards, which made for a long night, but a nice one.

Saturday matinee: The People's Temple at ATC, all about Jonestown from the creators of The Laramie Project. I'm glad I saw it, though I left the theater feeling a bit dizzy. It's hard to wrap your mind around so much pain, especially when there are living survivors who've been coming to see the production. I can't imagine being able to do that in their place. Can't imagine being in their place, not really, though I can imagine getting myself into a situation like that under the right circumstances, and that's scary. The play reminds me of the documentary Capturing the Freedmans in that you leave as mystified as you entered as to what transpired and what went on in the minds of the central figures.

Saturday night: No Darkness Round My Stone at Trap Door, winning the prize for weirdness (a compliment). This piece is full of yearning, dissatisfaction, constant death and reanimation. Over and over, couples seem on the brink of a connection and then crash into the walls and fall down dead.

One of the actors cuddles and pets another for a long time during the play, and I felt jealous of them during the show. Petting seems like the kindest response to so many dark thoughts floating around.

Oh, and while I'm on plays about death . . . I loved R.U.R. at Strawdog, which I saw last Sunday. It's playful and sunny in comparison with these other three, and it scratched my apocalyptic itch. Trivia of the day is that the word "robot" originated with this play, and I adore that from the first conception of "robot," we're thinking about them taking over.

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