Archive for February 2018

There Are Tides

So the American reality my family lived out was that money is transmutable into education, and education into money, and that in the normal course of events the locus of that privilege may move back and forth between the one and the other as the times require. Families with education could (and mine did) ride waves and then wait between them. But moving back and forth is tougher for families that can’t obtain good educations. And up to my generation, the family history discussed last time suggests the best educations, the ones available where I and my forbears studied, were, practically speaking, reserved for people with European ancestors. Blacks were thus largely denied whatever advantages such educations might have afforded them in catching either of the big waves that had benefitted my own family.

A Lackluster Script Spoils THE GRADUATE at Dundalk Community Theatre

Ben’s character may be a phony pastiche, and Elaine’s a confusing cypher, but in Elaine’s mother Mrs. Robinson, novelist Charles Webb struck gold. Bored, lecherous, alcoholic, deeply dishonest, vengeful, and possessed of a twisted motherly loyalty, she is real and vital and scary as hell. Dyana Neal’s Mrs. Robinson is pretty much perfect. She has the intimidating stare, the commanding manner, the resolute lack of curiosity about any aspect of the world aside from sex, tobacco, and alcohol, the maternal protectiveness, all down pat. If Anne Bancroft is looking down from heaven, she probably approves.

A Community’s Accomplishment and the Homosexual Gaze: ALL SHE MUST POSSESS at REP Stage

All She Must Possess does not suggest that the Cone Collection was Etta’s work alone, but rather depicts it as the emanation of the entire community, including not only Etta Cone, but her sister Claribel, Gertrude Stein, Gertrude’s brother Leo, Alice Toklas, and the artists, for whom Matisse stands in as representative. It was out of that community’s joy in creation and discussions of it (Expressionism vs. Cubism, for instance) that the collection, a thing of transcendent value, is shown as having emerged, with Etta’s role as being the primary shaper of the final product. But the play is generous in giving all of these participants in the joint creation some “screen time” in which to demonstrate their contributions to the enterprise, whether it be Leo’s joie-de-vivre, Matisse’s artistic exuberance, Gertrude’s self-assuredness in exploring the limits of what speech can do, or even Alice’s bitchy possessiveness as Gertrude’s helpmeet.

No Escape from the Hall of Mirrors in THE DEATH OF WALT DISNEY at Single Carrot Theatre

It becomes apparent that Walt’s effort to write about his demise, to force it into the role of conversational subject rather than himself becoming that death’s object and thereby losing the ability to write about it, is part of his struggle, and part of the reason he keeps reaching for the clicker with all those “cuts tos” in a futile effort to rejigger things in a way that will avert the conclusion. His motto is “Unless you’re one of the most important people who ever lived, what’s the point?” But there remains no point if you have no consciousness left to enjoy your importance. Hence the sight near the end of doomed Walt struggling to slow down and stretch out indefinitely the experience of his own final moments.

When Everything Falls Apart: SKELETON CREW at Center Stage

As Dominique Morisseau’s Skeleton Crew beautifully demonstrates, a factory means so much more than just what rolls off the assembly line. It is a roof over its workers’ heads, a community, a source of mortgage payments for one’s home and tuitions for one’s children, of health care and financial security in one’s old age. And when it is threatened, all of these things are threatened too.