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Showing posts from July, 2018

The Blue Room

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Arthur Schnitzler (Austrian) wrote La Ronde (German title Reigen) in 1897, but it was so scandalous that it wasn’t formally produced until 1920, in Berlin. Schnitzler was charged with obscenity - it was too much even for the Weimar Republic - and he withdrew it from production. 
La Ronde - need I say? - focuses on sex. It’s the rare example of a play without structure that works perfectly, and this is so because of its concept. There are ten scenes, each centering round the act of sex. One character in the first scene shows up in the second with a new partner; the character we just met in the second scene shows up in the third with a new partner, and so on. The girl in the first scene, whom we did not see again in the second scene, we meet again in the tenth, to complete the ring.
David Hare adapted La Ronde into a play called The Blue Room, first produced in London in 1998. It’s designed to be performed by one actor and one actress, each playing five roles. I’ve never understood how th…

The Property

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Photo by Hunter Canning
Ben Josephson ’s play The Property, presented by New Light Theater Project at The Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row, centers around a weak-willed woman, Irene, whose tenant - he’s renting the cottage - offers an enticing alternative to her nerdy husband, Eddie. Her self-absorbed high-school son, Todd, is no comfort to her, and her overbearing ex-husband, Vernon - he’s returned after 16 years - is a liability. The play is essentially plotless. The relationships and the lack of overt action suggest Uncle Vanya, but Chekhov’s characters are actually doing things beneath the stasis, and they’re steeped in the activities of daily life. Mr. Josephson’s characters do nothing but talk, mostly about themselves. The play’s divided into three acts, each of about a half-hour. Greg and Vernon show up in Act One, and it’s a long stretch until the next piece of action, in Act II. There is, at least, some interesting characterization in the dialogue. “You, mother, are a mess and you…