Thursday, June 11, 2009

I Never Really Blog About Theatre...

...mostly because it's such a small world and one negative comment can easily make it back to the person you're talking about, and I'm not really into that. I've had to spend years working on my ability to speak respectfully of shows I hate, whether its because I'm giving an usher speech, or because someone close to me was involved, or because I need people to come to it so I can keep my job. (Don't get me started on my Bob Saget days...) Now, off the job and in un-influential circles however, you may may find me ranting with vehemence and sometimes, tears. I recently saw a show that was so insulting to my intelligence that I walked out after 40 minutes, and kept my eyes closed for 30 of those minutes...But anyway, my modus operandi with theatre tends to be internet silence rather than critique. It's just too small a world.

But I recently got an email from my friend Garth, about a show he'd just seen. I was so touched by his instinct to tell me about it, not to mention my wish that I could beam back to NY to see it, that I thought I'd repost it here. So, here's a little theatre blog- by proxy.

I wanted to tell you about a show I saw that I think you would really have loved. It was called "The Success of Failure (Or the Failure of Success)" by Cynthia Hopkins, the third installment of the Accidental Nostalgia trilogy. Maybe you saw one of the first two installments of the trilogy at St. Ann's Warehouse when you lived here. I had seen the second one, which was okay (musically exiciting but theatrically a little thin), but this show was one of the most succesful pieces of theatre I've seen in ages. Act I: a one-woman space opera about a suicidally depressed, alcoholic space pilot who is sent on a mission to save the earth. In the end she has to destroy the earth in order to save allow a race of super-sentient beings to escape the universe, which is collapsing. Act II was Cynthia Hopkins explaining with heartwrenching honesty how her own battles with alcoholism and depression led her to make this trilogy of shows. Normally I'm not a big fan of confessional, one-person shows but she was such a completely frank, engaging performer, with something important to say, and she shared of her spirit so generously that I fell completely in love. The show also included a lot of high-tech multimedia elements, not normally something I'm a fan of in live theatre, but she used them so well, and in a manner so clearly in service of the story she was telling that it worked.

In both the space-opera act and the confessional act, Hopkins portrayed the way depression and despair feed off of stories and ideas both personal and cosmological. In the end, she didn't tie it up with a bow: we're left with the sense that she's hopeful about having found a new way of being in the world, but without a simplistic portrait of a solution or a quick fix for all her problems.

More than anything, I was left wanting keenly to be more alive, inspired to be, to do and to feel more, which is exactly what I want from theatre.

You should google accidental nostalgia trilogy to find the website with some clips from the show.


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