Dec. 22nd, 2014

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in chronological order

I've ushered for a bunch of plays, and since I've been slow about posting, I'm aggregating so I'll at least have something written.

In mid-November, I spent an afternoon and evening at three plays by Company One, grouped together as the Displaced Hindu Gods trilogy of Brahman/i, Kalki, and Shiv (all by Aditi Kapil). (I love the art they have for these, btw; check it out at the previous link.)
  • Brahman/i is billed as a one hijra stand-up comedy show; the stand-up is an intersex person who was raised to be a boy until partway through high school, then switches. Zie pokes fun at life in high school as either gender, the role of Indian aunties, and ancient pornographic stone carvings, among other things. There's also a bass player, who turns out to be more integral to the plot than suspected at first.
  • Kalki is the last avatar of Vishnu, who appears during one rainy season to some teenagers facing the awfulness of mean girls (and boys) in high school. It was liberating, seeing the mousey girls get vindicated, even as Kalki left them holding the bag for the oddness. I was impressed with how the set worked (outlines of metal square tubing, with windows and supports set at angles within those frames, with something rigged up to show water constantly running down the windows). And I was left realizing I know far too little about Hinduism to really appreciate this.
  • Shiv follows the daughter of a poet who can't quite break into the big time now that he's emigrated to the US. He loves his daughter, but is not always who or what she needs. Despite that, when she is grown, she takes a job that can let her make up for one wrong done to him. Or so she thinks. Or there's the other description, from their site, which is also accurate: "named for the Destroyer God, sails the cosmic ocean on a makeshift raft piled high with the psychic residue of post-colonialism. Drawn by distant radio signals, she navigates the poetry of her past and the possibilities of love in a soaring, fantastical journey about the destruction that leads to rebirth." The staging included an impressive mattress-raft, also kite lines. This one was interesting too, and again left me feeling I hadn't quite gotten the point the playwright intended, or not in its fullness. Perhaps I have some reading to do...


Later in November was ASP's production of Phèdre (Jean Racine; Hughes translation), which was in the First Church in Boston. I'd not been in the building before, and was surprised at how different the interior was compared to the exterior (much more modern, for one thing). I think I read some of this play in high school French class, but if so, I didn't remember much of it. This staging used the space, light, and sound, with the only set being a huge mound of chain that had ends trailing off in a number of directions, including to the balcony above. I liked it, though at times was distracted by how the walls and the lighting interacted (there were copper foil pieces wedged vertically between concrete vertical standouts (some sense of it in the Globe's photo). Of course, being essentially a Greek tragedy, pretty much everyone's dead at the end.

Most recently I saw Moonbox Productions' staging of Musical of Musicals: The Musical (Joanne Bogart and Eric Rockwell), which, as you might have guessed, is a musical. Not just one, oh no, but five mini-musicals starting with the same basic plot ("I can't pay the rent!" "But you must pay the rent!"), first in the style of Rodgers and Hammerstein, then Stephen Sondheim, followed by that of Jerry Herman, then Andrew Lloyd Webber, and finishing with John Kander and Fred Ebb. The show is delightful, very clever in its spoofing, even when I knew I was missing references. Two thumbs up.

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