Day Five…

I saw three shows yesterday, and it was definitely a good day.

I had a couple of lovely stretches between shows when no-one was available on the phone for business, so I got to stroll. I mean, these were half hour strolls, so it shouldn’t really count, but still, strolling is not something people generally do in Manhattan. We’re head-down fast walkers. So, strolling first the West Side Highway at Houston and then the City Hall area at 9 o’clock at night were both real treats.

Anyway, I realized that I had some time earlier in the day than I had planned so I scanned the Fringe Guide for shows that might start early enough for me to still be able to see the two shows I had planned, and I cross-referenced it with a set of reviews and decided to go check out Barrymore’s Body.

Several things drew me to Barrymore’s Body. I love movies from this period, (I think everyone who does stage work wishes to God we could go back to movies that read like plays and asked their actors to act) and I wanted to see how they handled the impersonations of Bogart and, especially, Peter Lorre, one of my favorite actors of all time.

What these guys did was not so much impersonations as distillation and channelling. I didn’t talk to any of the actors, but it seems like they watched all the movies and thought “Okay, if these guys act like this in movies, how would they act when they’re just being normal”. It was transporting. Christian Baskous was perfect as Bogey, slightly less sneering and cool than he is in the movies, slightly more human, and incredible. Dan Truman played Peter Lorre with such affection and precision that I am sure every review of the show is gonna shit themselves over his performance. He’s so perfect, you wonder how he does anything else. Gregory Steinbrunner may have a harder time wowing people with his Paul Henreid, it is a slightly more thankless role and it’s not a character that people have been impersonating forever, but his acting is wonderful. People make too much of accents when talking about actors, thanks to fucking Meryl Streep , but he had to have the accent of an Austrian who is convinced he sounds completely American, and he pulls it off wonderfully.

The play did expose the limitations of stage craft, it was impossible for them to change the sets fast enough to keep pace with the story and, in the second act, once a few larger set pieces were on stage and you knew you had met the entire cast, a lot fo the tension was gone. It shouldn’t be this way, but the fact is, you don’t worry about the cops coming if you’ve already met all the actors in the program.

But these are top notch performances in a play that is an actual *story*, which is hard to find in the theater sometimes. It’s worth it just to hear Lorre and Bogart talk shit about the piece of crap they’re working on right now. I would definitely say to go see this show.

Then I went down to my theater where I saw Bitches Funny Presents “Cows Gone Wild” and I had a good laugh. No, I didn’t really, I had a laugh, not really a good one. But I’m a prick, what do I know. They did about thirty sketches and only a few of them were tailored to my sense of humor. I don’t really find funny stuff all that funny. I liked it when someone did bad stand up, I liked it when they came out dressed in robes and did a chant for two minutes that made no sense, only to show us later on that the asses of their dresses were cut out, I like the sorta surreal stuff. But an interview with Karen Carpenter? (Hint: there’s a joke there about how she should have eaten more). Beating the shit out of that Six Flags guy? Arabs who own Dunkin’ Donuts aren’t to be trusted? I know it’s all funny, it just isn’t funny to me. Because, like I said, I’m a grouchy old prick.

I did see my friend Matthew Kinney on the street before the show and we compared notes on the rest of the Fringe and on our own show, and then I ran into Matthew Brookshire (he did some choreography for The Bitches) who I had produced during Gideon’s Indivisible Festival and it was cool to see him. It’s fun to realize there is a spinning connection that we all have, Mr. Brookshire working with a company, founded by Missi Pyle , who worked, in Cincinatti, with Jordanai, who produced a festival in which Mr. Brookshire performed… it’s nice.

But it got weirder as the night went on. Next is the best show I’ve seen yet at The Fringe and the twilight zone I ended up in…