Thursday, February 28, 2013

Daniel Kitson on Tour 2013: UK Dates

Daniel Kitson sent a very newsy email out to his mailing list last week and the reason you have not heard from me about it is because it killed me. I died. I died, went to heaven and then asked to be sent back to earth because really I don't want to miss out on his new shows and I shall not let death stop me.  It took me a while to get back, from death, and write up a blog post.  But here you go...

The email has good news for those living in the UK, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and New York.  Sorry the rest of the world you have been left out this time.

Daniel Kitson announced that he would "probably" be making three new shows in 2013. He is launching a new stand-up show called "After the Beginning. Before the End" which he will tour across the UK this spring and summer. It may have a run in New York and London in July.

He described it as "Something like a stand up show":

After the Beginning . Before the End
This is a very specific point in time.
I’ve been waiting to have the idea for this show for weeks, for months. A space held open in my head waiting for the idea. For months. I’ve done previews and I’ve booked the tour and I’ve stared at the internet and I’ve made chicken and I’ve tried not to worry. But the idea has not come and I have worried. I’ve worried and doubted and waited more and more and more. But then today, having dropped my dad off at the train station and met my friends for some coffee, Whilst driving home to write this (very overdue) brochure copy - dreading the thought of heaving half lies and optimistic promises into something vaguely intriguing but not developmentally restrictive - half way home, it happened. Somewhere between East London and South London - It arrived. The Idea. Just like that. Like a child, late home from school, oblivious to the worry and the panic and the phone calls. It just walked in and sat down like it wasn’t even a big deal. So now I’m typing this in my bedroom because the boy who lives next door is playing the James Bond theme on what I assume to be a trumpet.
And you have to trust me.
Two hours ago I didn’t have the idea. Now I do. And it’s going to be good.

In addition, he may bring back his Edinburgh theater show from 2012 As of 1.52pm GMT on Friday April 27th 2012, This Show Has No Title for a short run in London in the fall.  AND he is suggesting he will be bringing a new show to Manchester and New York in the fall--something about this makes me think it is a theater show.  He also mentioned an "old show" might be going to Dublin for a short run in September/October.

Here's the stand-up tour schedule as it stands now.  UPDATE April 25th:  Despite many shows being sold out, Daniel Kitson recommends calling the venues for returns and to see if other tickets will be released later.

(Please note ticket sales dates are in UK format 03/04 is April 3rd and not March 4th--felt I had to explain in case Americans or other backwards nations were trying to interpret this information)

March –2013
ADDED 20th – WIP The Stand Glasgow  (SOLD OUT) 
WIP March 11-16, 18, 19 at Battersea Arts Centre 9.30pm (SOLD OUT)
Melbourne WIP dates in Australia are listed on this Australia tour post. (SOLD OUT)

April –2013
Melbourne and Sydney WIP dates in Australia are listed on this Australia tour post. (SOLD OUT)

May –2013
WIP date for Perth  is listed on my Australia tour post.
6th WIP at The Hob London (2 shows) (Tickets available 26/4 at noon)
7th WIP at The Hob London (2 shows) (Tickets available 26/4 at noon)
8Th- Liverpool Playhouse - £10 (on sale 18/02/13 at 10am) (SOLD OUT)
9th– Leeds City Varieties - £10 (on sale 18/02/13 at 10am) (SOLD OUT)
11th– Brighton Theatre Royal - £10 (part of Brighton Festival.  Member tickets sold out but 80% of tickets to be released through general booking: Fri 8 Mar, 9am) (SOLD OUT)
12th– Belfast MAC -£10 (on sale 18/02/13 at 10am) (SOLD OUT.)
13th– Lancaster, Dukes Playhouse - £10 (on sale 18/02/13 at 10am) (SOLD OUT)
14th– Manchester Royal Exchange - £12 (on sale 18/02/13 at 10am) (SOLD OUT)
18th– Aldershot, West End Centre - £10 (on sale 18/02/13 at 10am) (SOLD OUT)
19th– Nottingham Playhouse - £10 (on sale 18/02/13 at 10am) (SOLD OUT)
20th– Bristol, Tobacco Factory - £10 (on sale 03/04/13)  (SOLD OUT) (Priority for Daniel Kitson mailing list (a password is needed and you must be on the mailing list to get it), TFT Fans and Business Club members: Wed 3 April, General on sale: Fri 05 April)
22nd– Durham, Gala - £10 (on sale 18/02/13 at 10am) (SOLD OUT)
23rd– Scarborough, Stephen Joseph Theatre £10 (On sale now) (SOLD OUT)
25th– Edinburgh, Lyceum – £10 (on sale 18/02/13 at 10am) (SOLD OUT)
26th– Coventry, Warwick Arts Centre - £10 (on sale 11/03/13) (SOLD OUT)
27th– Norwich, Arts Centre - £10 (on sale 18/02/13 at 10am) (Website says seated tickets have sold out. Please contact 01603 660352 for standing availability)
28th– Newbury, Corn exchange - £10 (on sale 4/03/13 – earlier to members) (TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE)
30th– Harrogate Theatre - £10 (on sale 18/02/13 at 10am) (SOLD OUT)
31st– Sheffield Lyceum - £10.50 (on sale 18/03/13) (Tickets will be on sale to Sheffield Theatre members 16th, Daniel Kitson mailing list members 18th by phone and in person only--NOT ONLINE (a secret phrase has been given to mailing list members to use for this), general sale 23rd) (SOLD OUT)

June –2013
2nd– Cambridge Junction - £10 (on sale 18/02/13 at 10am) (SOLD OUT)
3rd– Cardiff - £11.50 (on sale 18/02/13 at 10am) (SOLD OUT)
5th– Lincoln Performing Arts Centre - £10 (on sale 18/02/13 at 10am) (TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE)
8th– Oslo, Park Theatre (Parkteatret) – NOK130 (On sale now) (TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE)
9th– Oxford Playhouse - £12 (on sale 25/02/13) (SOLD OUT)
10th– Taunton – TBC (Sadly the Taunton Brewhouse has closed and the show is cancelled)
11th– Leicester – Just the Tonic £10 (on sale 18/02/13 at 10am) (SOLD OUT, Says contact the box office)
12th– Birmingham, MAC – £10 (on sale 18/02/13 at 10am) (SOLD OUT)
14th– Hull Truck Theatre - £10 (on sale 26/02/13) (SOLD OUT)
17th– Glasgow, The Arches - £10 (on sale 18/02/13 at 10am) (SOLD OUT)
ADDED 18th– Exeter Phoenix (replacement gig for Taunton) (SOLD OUT)

19th– Colchester Arts Centre - £10 (on sale 18/02/13 at 10am) (SOLD OUT)
20th– Margate Theatre Royal - £10 (on sale 18/02/13 at 10am) (Call box office for tickets)
24th– Amsterdam, Toomler – E12.00 (Can still reserve or at least I think so based on my non-existent understanding of Dutch) (Email  )
26th– Hebden Bridge Picture House -£10 (on sale Fri March 1, 9am)(SOLD OUT)
ADDED 27th– Galway, Roisin Dubh – E12.00  (On sale 01/03/13) (SOLD OUT)

London– July 24-25, July 27-31.  See more info here.
New York – July 7-13.  See more info here.

Please note that tickets sold by touts may not be valid at the venues.  And of course there are other reasons not to pay money to touts as Mr. Kitson himself says "If you buy those tickets not only are you being swizzled but you are giving money to criminals in all but law. None of the money goes to the venue or to me (your hero king) it all goes to some avaricious fuckmonkey who has signed up to the mailing list of a performer they have no interest in seeing for the sole purpose of stealing tickets from people who would love to see the show and then profiting from my work and your adorable eagerness. I know there are various market minded justification for this - but frankly, they can all go fuck themselves into a ditch." 
He will be doing some work in progress shows in Australia in Melbourne (at the Tuxedo Cat during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival), Sydney (Comedy festival) and Perth (Comedy festival).  And maybe a night in Darwin.  Sadly nothing for my friends in Brisbane. 

Notably he says he is probably not going to be in Edinburgh for the festival.

Since I was going to be in London in June for some theater I thought I'd try to get tickets to the tour.  I got up at 4:30am NY time ON A HOLIDAY to buy tickets yesterday.  I managed to score tickets to Cambridge and Cardiff.  So say hello if you happen to be at those shows.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Really Really: Don't

Really Really made me appreciate David Cromer was in the driver's seat as director because his work imbued the play by new writer Paul Downs Colaizzo with far more credibility than the material deserved.  With dislocated spaces, rhythmic pauses and an understanding of the disconnection of the social media generation, I found his direction stunning to watch even if the play itself left me cold.  It's the story of a keg party, a sexual assault and the fallout among friends, frenemies and peers with a lens on the individualistic, self-involved Me generation trapped between hovering parents and a unknown, bleak future.

The play seemed controversial for controversy's sake--like a kid who knows he's not supposed to pick his nose but does so anyway, flaunting his indiscretion.  Yes the audience was atwitter afterwards but I'd really prefer a play that makes you think than just a play that sets off a firecracker in the theater to judge how you would react to it.  I'm sure the writer thought he was trying to say something about the Me Generation, class issues, sexual politics, and our notions about sexual assault but each topic got such a blunt, drive-by treatment that I felt like we were ticking off a long list of "what's wrong with millennials" according to boomers.  If he was trying to bring to light the issues of his generation he's taken an incredibly insulting and dismissive approach to it.  Since everything was delivered in extreme, loud, and broad strokes the impact became dulling over time.  Tell me again how shitty people can be and that you are the first generation to be shitty to each other ever and we can't imagine how shitty you can actually be. Also can you hand me that hammer I'd like to bash my own skull in but keep talking, don't mind me. 

And then there was the excessive subtext as text...making these characters pure constructs rather than people. Boo I say.  Boo.

So let's get down to brass tacks, plot twists and all.  SPOILER ALERT--AND I MEAN ALL THE SPOILERS....the lead character Leigh (Zosia Mamet) is raped at a party by all around nice guy and the guy she's had a crush on for years, Davis (Matt Lauria) who was so drunk he has no memory of what happened.  She uses the rape to cover up lies she's told her rich but dull boyfriend Jimmy (Evan Jonigkeit) in an attempt to blackmail him to marry her.  After Davis tries to find out what happened and try to understand why she has made these allegations, she then has consensual sex with him.  And then to make sure she doesn't get caught by her boyfriend for cheating on him she pretends that this consensual sex was rape. And she may actually turn into a snarling crazy person at this point when she expresses some sort of glee in destroying Davis's life for what seems like her own pleasure and not for what he did.  I mean if she could have gone full Poltergeist head spin that might have delivered the right tone to this moment in the show.  Davis then, in a rage, rapes her in full view of the audience. 

The murky waters of real and false rape allegations are not well traversed here mainly because it does not seem the writer's primary interest--it seems as if it is just the saucy vehicle for his generational analysis. 

Authenticity was to be found in this play, but it was fleeting.  The most effective moment in the entire play for me was the scene between Davis and his roommate Cooper (David Hull) where Davis is freaking out at being called into the Dean's office over the assault and as he's talking to Cooper but Cooper, mid-conversation stops talking and starts texting someone else.  The pause as Cooper texts, responds, and texts again as Davis is suspended in time waiting for his friend's attention to return to him said more about the generational issues than the lectures on what the Me Generation thinks of itself.  When you want your friend's support, understanding and attention and the friend is distracted by the gossip as it explodes in real-time on his phone, it says everything you need to know about the characters' self-involvement and disconnection.

As for the performances, I think Zosia Mamet was intentionally opaque but she came across as flat. Either she was yelling or blank.  Leigh is supposed to be a bit of cipher so I blame much of this on the script but it did not help give any life to this lifeless character who could have used a dollop of emotional truth from time to time.  As much as I disliked the over-the-top dialogue she was forced to deliver Aleque Reid did a very good job as Leigh's Pomeranian obsessed sister and Lauren Culpepper was great as Leigh's roommate the hyperactive, overachiever voice of her generation. 

The fractured and rotating set reminded me a bit of the fractured space used in Act II of Cromer's Sweet Bird of Youth.  But here it made more sense and kept the feeling of the ground shifting beneath our feet as the story unfolded in truths and lies. 

For me, I was able to sit back and enjoy Cromer's grown-up directing work even if it was wasted on this half-baked juvenilia.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Adam Guettel at 54 Below: Worshiping in the Church of Guettel

When Steven Pasquale reached for the last note of Il Mondo Era Vuoto from The Light in the Piazza during Adam Guettel's 54 Below concert on Friday night, the entire audience audibly exhaled--as if to give up their own oxygen so that Pasquale could push through for the final thrust of emotion.  The
audience seemed unified in awe.  To stop breathing was a small sacrifice to make to hear something as beautiful and shattering as that.  I was not sure if I blacked out for a moment overwhelmed with what I was feeling or if the lights actually dimmed because Pasquale was pulling the power he needed from them.   Maybe a little of both.  It was the rare moment where you know without a doubt you are experiencing something historic and momentous.  There was a moment of silence between Pasquale's finale and the applause--I know I was too stunned to move.  But the applause came loudly and enthusiastically.  And rightfully so.

Adam Guettel said he had not performed a show live since 1999 (though he occasionally would make bad one off appearances without preparation or rehearsal) so this week's polished and rehearsed cabaret at 54 Below was special. I might have been the rare Guettel virgin in the esteemed crowd which was made up of a musical theater legends--Mary Rodgers Guettel (naturally), Stephen Schwartz, David Yazbek, Jason Robert Brown. The Friday night show was largely structured around each show (Guettel said he had changed the set list order from other nights).  Segments from Floyd Collins, The Light in the Piazza and Myths and Hymns were interspersed with a few songs from his new shows Millions (based on the Danny Boyle film of the same name) and his adaptation of The Days of Wine and Roses.

For those who are curious, this was the set list on Friday for the 8:30pm show:
Daybreak (Floyd Collins) (Guettel, Pasquale)
Baby Moon (Bashor)
Hero and Leander  (Myths and Hymns) (Pasquale)
Find Me (Millions) (Guettel)
Feel for This (Millions) (Guettel)
Saint Who (Millions) (Guettel, Pasquale, Bashor)
Ballad of Floyd Collins (Floyd Collins) (Guettel)
The Riddle Song (Floyd Collins) (Guettel, Pasquale)
Days of Wine and Roses Song
Il Mondo Era Vuoto (Piazza) (Pasquale)
The Light in the Piazza (Piazza) (Bashor)
Say It Somehow (Piazza) (Pasquale, Bashor)
Finale (Millions) (Guettel, Pasquale, Bashor)
How Glory Goes (Floyd Collins) (Guettel)
Encore: Awaiting You (Myths and Hymns) (Guettel)

I had long heard of the cult-like worship of Adam Guettel--a talented but tortured composer and lyricist. But listening to the cast recording of The Light in the Piazza recently I did not feel what I felt listening to the music live. 

It's easy to get lost in Kelli O'Hara making things sound effortless on a cast recording (she makes everything sound effortless damn her perfect perfectness). But seeing the band and singers push, pull, and strive to get hold of the muscular and dynamic Guettel music was what I needed to appreciate what he does.  Unlike Sondheim who seemingly works from the head, and on occasion, his intellectualism can be emotional, Guettel for me was working from that place deep in your guts where you hide your fears and anxiety.   My notes from the concert are all comments of extreme physical violence--feeling like I was being drowned, dragged to the bottom of the ocean. Grabbed deep from within like someone was operating on my organs without my permission.  I mean these things in a good way. 

It's not that music is not beautiful--it is. And it can be lyrically complex--The Riddle Song from Floyd Collins in particular and he even manages to squeeze the word transmogrify into the lyrics of his new show Millions. But I wasn't crying I was filled with butterflies of expectation and tangible anxiety.  The work is elegant, clear, and powerful, but downright scary at times--like maybe we won't all make it through.  I had a moment thinking that Steven Pasquale might burn down the joint with his voice--but what a way to go. 

In his nervous between song chitchat Guettel explained the themes of Floyd Collins--is there nobility in failure--and Piazza--not everyone finds love and what if I don't.  There is certainly darkness in these works but the fearlessness of where to go with it musically is what makes it unique. He does not shy away from pushing the music to challenging and extreme places.  But it was not all seriousness.  Guettel called Steven Pasquale a "chocolate bar of a person" and exclaimed early on "God he's a good singer."  He joked that they don't make musical theater for the money or for the "incredible respect we get from the hip-hop community."  He also called Floyd Collins, the show about a miner trapped underground, "a perfect family show...and it sold like one." 

Pasquale was a charming and effervescent Homer in the scenes from Floyd Collins and did a gorgeous rendition of Hero and Leander.  Having seen him in Far from Heaven this past summer at Williamstown (that show is scheduled to come to Playwrights Horizons this spring with Pasquale in it) I knew he had a rich and beautiful voice. But his convincing and committed performances really sold the Guettel songs.  I am sorry to hear that Pasquale's new TV was cancelled but I hope this means we'll get to see more of him singing on stage in New York (If you need more convincing to fall for Steven Pasquale check out this funny interview with him).  Whitney Bashor had the challenge of singing the song Guettel wrote for Audra McDonald, Baby Moon and the title song from Piazza but she did a lovely job.  Guettel might not have Pasquale's voice but his intense performance of Find Me and How Glory Goes made me glad I got to see him exploring the depths of his own work.

I went in not knowing what I was to experience at an Adam Guettel show.  I walked out an acolyte in the Church of Guettel.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pygmalion: Social Commentary through Comedy

"What is life but a series of inspired follies..." G.B. Shaw

Without the "distraction" of My Fair Lady's fantastic score and memorable songs, Pygmalion speaks volumes about a culture in transition. As my first Shaw (only a century or so late to the party), I found the San Diego Old Globe's production of Pygmalion was a fantastic introduction to Shaw's work. Charlotte Parry's Eliza Dolittle is heartbreaking and when she finds her voice and begins to use it, the richness of Shaw's play becomes apparent.

Lightly foreshadowing the rise of Bright Young Things, and a generation that would have looked nothing like it's parents, Shaw presents an upper class girl desperate to be part of the in crowd of her generation even if that means dropping the trappings of formality from her mother's generation and a lower class girl trying just as desperately to separate herself from her father's wicked ways and climb out of the world she was born into. Suddenly each class wants what the other has--a loosening of the rules for one, a tightening of respectability for the other. The walls between them begin to weaken because may those things start to become possible.

Eliza Dolittle (Charlotte Parry) sells flowers on the streets.  In a chance encounter with famous linguist Henry Higgins (Robert Sean Leonard) he bets his friend Colonel Pickering (Paxton Whitehead) that in six months time he can pass her off as a society lady.  Dolittle shows up at Higgins's home and takes him up on his glib offer.  Something in his offer has sparked something inside her.  She may be poor but she's not stupid and grabs this opportunity.  Over time she becomes the model student but even as Higgins's language instruction opens up a new world to Dolittle there is something darker lurking.  Contrasted against Eliza and her father Alfie (Don Sparks), a drunkard who lives in sin and tries to shake down Higgins for money, are the posh Eynsford Hill family.  Silly, traditional and a bit dim Mrs. Aynsford Hill (Maggie Carney), daughter Clara (Danielle O'Farrell) and son Freddie (Robbie Simpson) make appearances at the home of Henry's mother (Kandis Chappell) while Eliza is learning to fit in.  They represent the world she is desperate to blend into.  But Clara and Freddie take a shine to Eliza because of the way she speaks and her unexpected frankness--all the things she is trying to shed.

What could just be a fish out of water comedy, ends up being a more serious affair beneath the surface.  Shaw gets to explore some meaty themes.  His characters make for entertaining vessels to deliver the message.  Henry Higgins clings to his belief that treating everyone poorly but the same is the answer. This equality can be unfeeling and hurtful. Of course he's a wealthy man who can get away with this experiment in equanimity as he goes home to his warm house with running hot water and someone to find his slippers for him. It's a privileged perch to argue he's the voice of equality.  He's also a man.  His philosophy is called into question throughout the play but I liked that in the production (and in the play) he is trapped in his way of thinking and it pains him to maintain his views in the face of overwhelming opposition.

Contrasting the wealth and society position of Higgins is Eliza's father, Alfie, a common dustman.  Higgins, without much thought, makes a joke of Alfie and this joke backfires and thrusts Alfie into society himself.  Alfie suggests one gives up freedom and happiness when one has money. His life becomes poorer when he gains money but once he has money he cannot resist it and walk away from it even if it means a less fulfilling life.

Eliza has always been essentially respectable, hard working and moral at her core ("I'm a good girl I am" is her refrain) but no one could recognize that beneath her dirty clothes and her guttural uttering. Becoming a society lady involves shedding the surface dirt but she does not realize that should she commit to life in society she will no longer be independent and free. In society, her only choice is to marry as she is now too respectable for employment.  By learning to talk and act properly, she can no longer earn an income and maintain her society standing.  Of course the only people who recognize Eliza's impending doom are women--Mrs. Higgins and Higgins's housekeeper. The two clueless "confirmed" bachelors, Higgins and Pickering, never recognize that the only women in their circles are wives, wives to be and widows. 

What Eliza thought was an opportunity comes at a cost she never expected.  Eliza articulates the difficult reality of her day--as a flower girl she never had to sell herself but now that she is a lady she has no other choice.  Parry's performance and painful declaration "What will become of me" brought tears to my eyes.  Removing the romantic overlay that My Fair Lady added later, the dangers of Eliza's situation become much more clear and the desperation of her situation is far from comic.  Certainly there is a lot of Shaw moralizing about the issues he has with society but Eliza, as performed by Parry here, is a fully-fleshed out character.  I found the moralizing well-balanced against smart writing and strong performances so I did not mind it so much--and probably most of the audience was just focused on the comedy. 

Paxton Whitehead was perfectly cast as Colonel Pickering--stiff upper lip, warmth toward Eliza, and enough bumbling. I struggled with Robert Sean Leonard again as I did in his Broadway turn in Born Yesterday. There's a stiffness and falseness about him that gets in the way of connecting to the emotional aspects of his character.  It's not a fatal flaw but a niggling complaint at the back of my mind because 20 years ago I saw him in Long Day's Journey Into Night and he shattered me with that performance.  I guess I'm always chasing that particular rainbow.  But I will say his accent was not very good and in a show all about accents it was particularly frustrating.

The supporting cast was a mixed bag. I enjoyed Kandis Chappell's haughty but deeply knowing performance as Mrs Higgins. Maggie Carney did a fine job as the spacey socialite Mrs Eynsford Hill. The cast was filled out with graduate student performers.  

A lush set, by Alexander Dodge, indicated the time and place well. The direction by Nicholas Martin was unobtrusive and I found the staging of the final scene served Shaw's intent well.  As much as the audience found the comedy rollicking, I thought this production highlighted the deeper meaning of the work well. 

And now I've got to read more Shaw.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Water by the Spoonful: What is Family

Whenever any writer talks about a sofa covered in plastic, I am immediately transported to my grandmother's house--with a dirt cellar, an uncomfortable wedding portrait mounted on the wall over the plastic covered sofa, and being force fed homemade pasta and cookies.  It's the type of cultural shorthand that I don't mind when handled well.  Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for drama, Quiara Alegría Hudes's Water by the Spoonful, makes reference to a plastic covered sofa and yet walks a delicate line through material that could easily fall into melodrama.  But she largely stays on the right side of the line, creating fragile poetry with an intersecting story between addicts in recovery and an immigrant family in dissolution. The play showcases some terrific performances even if the production at times is uneven.

Eddie, (Armando Riesco) a war vet and Subway sandwich employee, is taking care of his mother who is in failing health. He meets up with his jazz loving academic cousin, Yaz (Zabryna Guevara), who is going through a divorce.   In parallel, we meet HaikuMom (Liza Colon-Zayas) who runs an Internet forum for addicts. In this forum a Japanese adoptee, Orangutan (Sue Jean Kim), an IRS employee, Chutes and Ladders (Frankie Faison), and a hotshot Internet entrepreneur, Fountainhead (Bill Heck), come together to give support, demand honesty, and ultimately forge strong bonds that extend beyond the bounds of the World Wide Web.

Voicing some interesting angles on class, race, ethnic communities in America and how addiction runs across race, class, and socioeconomic lines, Water by the Spoonful gives voice to vivid characters and what it means to be a family in America today.  I liked the sibling-like relationship between Eddie and Yaz and the difficult reality of one cousin moving on and the other staying behind--but the closeness between them was palpable, real and sincere. 

In the middle of the show several story lines connect up in a diner scene--which was near perfect--showing life as it is and not as it seems online.  The characters' lives are peeled back in that scene with expert care and a great deal is communicated with precision.  The rawness of the pain caused and the pain felt by the characters in that scene was well worth the price of admission. 

Maybe some other scenes felt overdone and overwrought because the diner scene worked so well for me. I found that some of the delicacy of the work was lost when it was followed up by moments that were staged in an obvious way.  I wish director Davis McCallum suggested rather than demonstrated.  I appreciate the difficulties of trying to create an online community on stage and the Windows 8 style projections tried valiantly to solve this challenging problem. But in the end maybe I would have liked to have just seen them as monologues or even progress from this stylized computer format to performed dialogue.  At some point the actors staring off into space and not making eye-contact with people bothered me. Especially when the theme of the work was about these connections.  The way people can come together when what binds them, in part, is the pain they have caused others.  Finding a way to make your life without causing yourself and others pain in the process.  But the voices of the addicts were honest and biting.  I believed their scenario despite the awkwardness of the staging.

However, I did not think Eddie's flashbacks to war worked.  Maybe because this is a trilogy there are tendrils of connections for those scenes to the other plays that give them more context but here I found again the literalness of wrestling with ghosts to be over the top.

For my quibbles, the performers were top notch.  Armando Riesco, who I have always noticed in the movies he's done (I don't know why but I liked his small role in Fever Pitch), brings a devastating honesty to Eddie and I wish I had seen the other two plays in the the trilogy where he performed the same role.  It was fantastic to see Sue Jean Kim in another role after her very good turn in Assistance (even if I did not like that play). Bill Heck plays a smaller role but he really grabbed my attention and so much more so than in the awful revival of Angels in America.  Here he shows bravado melting off his face and humility weighing on him with uncomfortable resonance.

It's a very moving play and even if I struggled with how some aspects were staged I was grateful to see it.