Monday, March 25, 2019

Weekly Margin 2019, W12: Hillary and Clinton, What the Constitution Means to Me

3/18/19: Hillary and Clinton
What: Lucas Hnath's new play, about an AU Hillary and Bill, during the New Hampshire 2008 Democratic Primary, when Hillary must consider the option of dropping out of the race to become Barack's running mate.
And? The AU-ness of the play at first just seems like a winking disclaimer as to the speculation involved in what happened behind closed doors eleven years ago (it also lets the actors off the hook from attempting a caricature). However, the frame of it, introduced by Laurie Metcalf before she steps into the play as Hillary, posits that there are infinite universes, and infinite Earths--some very different from our own, some strikingly similar--and thus this Hillary could have a different future than the one we, Greek tragedy-style, know awaits our Earth's Hillary. It makes her plight doubly tragic, in some ways: the idea that somewhere, there's a Hillary who did win, but that somehow she can't manage it. I've never really gotten into any of Hnath's work, but this is the closest I've come to engaging with it. It's an interesting exploration, and makes a fair case for why Hillary's manner can seem so manufactured, inorganic. It's helped by the powerful performances from both Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in the title roles. Not a must-see, but an interesting thought experiment.

3/20/19: What the Constitution Means to Me
What: Writer-performer Heidi Schreck recalls a teenage pasttime (slash college fund-raising activity) of traveling around to compete against other teens with speeches about the constitution. She uses this memory (and a re-creation of one such speech) to reckon with her own conflicting feelings about the constitution, whom it protects, and how that reflects on the very real experiences she has witnessed in her life.
And? This one is a must-see, if you can swing it. I know that description makes it sound kind of dry and lecture-y, but I promise it's not that. I loved it. It's stirring, it's smart, it's funny, it's heartbreaking, and it's inspiring. This was my first Heidi Schreck play, and I hope to see many more.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Weekly Margin 2019, W11: Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus, Jack & Melissa Present

3/14/19: Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
What: Taylor Mac's newest play, a dark comedy about three servants (a clown, a maid, a midwife) left to clean up the mess of Titus Andronicus.
And? This was my first Taylor Mac, and I really wish I'd been able to catch the much-lauded 24-Decade History of Popular Music, because this one didn't work for me. The humor is at least a third scatological, which isn't my favorite, and I found the design for the stacks of corpses (deliberately not-realistic-looking oversized cloth dolls), a mass of gray limbs, too reminiscent of images I've seen of concentration camp mass graves. Which, while the show does engage with some of the tragedy of Titus (mostly regarding Lavinia), it's more interested in other elements, and I can't think this was a deliberately conscious evocation. I'm sure some people are engaging with this show and getting a lot out of it, but I never keyed in.

Nathan Lane as Gary. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

3/15/19: Jack & Melissa Present
What: Jack and Melissa, a real-life couple and comedy duo performing an evening of sketch comedy and music.
And? It's been a while since I got to see my friend Jack perform, and he and his partner Melissa are delightfully absurd, strange, and engaging. I was happy to see, as a few interstitials, some of their web characters making cameos.