Sunday, February 17, 2013

Double Heart: Clague Playhouse

Once I played a priest.

My sophomore year at college we did Christopher Durang's The Marriage of Bette and Boo, an hilarious semi-autobiographic comedy about family, alcoholism, stillbirth and Catholicism.

There's this hilarious bit near the beginning when the entire family is gathered around in eager expectation of Bette's first-born child. The doctor walks to the center of the stage with a small bundle, turns the audience and drops it on the floor.

"It's dead," the doctor says. "The baby's dead."

Opening night, the Studio Theatre packed with well-dressed, half-tight students of the school of theater, broke into great, giddy guffaws. Outrageous!

The show opened on parents weekend, and for the second performance of the run, the auditorium was filled, rather than with kids in their very-late teens and early twenties, with the parents of these same students. The moment came.

"It's dead," he says. "The baby's dead."

Gasps, and then hushed silence.

Amazed, I asked the director, one of our professors, about why they had that reaction. He shrugged.

"Maybe after having a little more life experience, there are things you also won't find so amusing."


This afternoon we brought the tour to Clague Playhouse, which was entirely full. On Friday night we visited East Park Retirement Community in Brook Park. Though the audience was not strictly of-a-certain-age as was our friends at East Park, life experience was greater there than say, our fans at Elyria Catholic High. And while the high level of approval has been constant, the reaction to different parts of the production can vary greatly, and I feel largely based on this particular demographic.

In the original draft, the clown Pene disappears partway through, you know, like the Fool in Lear. Daniel told me we needed to see him again, and this should have been obvious -- he acts as comic relief near the end of the show, we need to see him again. However, though he drops no children, though the tragedy is not his fault, sometimes pee and puke jokes just can't bring about a smile to an audience who finds the course of events to have been a little near the knuckle.

Talkback at Eastpark Retirement Community
(Thanks, Vern!)

The post-show discussions have been really interesting, a lot of personal reactions to the decisions the characters make. One of my favorite today, however, was when Margaret asked me to share some of the allusions to other works from Shakespeare. I threw out a few, but I couldn't remember all of them ... so here's a (partial) list:
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Henry V
  • Othello
  • Julius Caesar
  • Macbeth 
  • Several others which inspired a word or phrase, that I can't even recall.
... also, too: Molly Ivins, the Firesign Theatre, Groucho Marx, Gilbert and Sullivan, The Tall Guy and Radiohead.

Tomorrow we travel to Kendal at Oberlin, performance at 7:15 PM. Please join us.

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