Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Canadians and Others


I have nothing against Canadians save that their export in shows is always questionable, whether it is “To Grandmother’s House We Go,” “The Drowsy Chaperone, the one about the Canadian wartime flying ace whose name I have forgotten  or now “Come From Away.”

The first trouble with “Come From Away” is the ungrammatical title. You can come from afar but not from away, which is a direction, not a place. The second, bigger trouble is that the show is a bore.

Shows about multiple characters of supposedly equal importance are always problematic, and even more so here, where almost all characters play multiple parts and it becomes hard to tell who they are at any given moment.

Yet another problem is the scenery, which, aside from a back wall and a few tree trunks, consists of twelve chairs, repeatedly rearranged for diverse locations. The authors, Irene Sankoff and David Hein, a married couple, are no doubt proud of their device—just think how much cheaper are a dozen inexpensive chairs than anything more elaborate.

The musical is about what ensued when because of 9/11 no planes were temporarily allowed entry into the U.S. As a result, 38 airplanes from abroad where confined to the small town of Gander on Newfoundland, whose tiny population was redoubled by the stranded passengers. How to feed and lodge them?

What emerges is a show of tremendous good intentions, the proverbial pavement leading to Hell, so that I kept waiting for its gates to gape open and start devouring. No such thing occurred, so that the lack of Hell translated into lack of interest. Worst of all was the absence of even a single decent tune, attributable to the authors’ equal lack of expertise in yet another basic ingredient. This left me and my musical comedy professor wife a couple of very drowsy chaperones. In Canada, “drowsy” can apparently mean tipsy; here it means only somnolent.

But even the chairs could not help representing in each given arrangement one of several different locations, it all contributing ultimately to a no longer avoidable indifference. This said, no blame attaches to the valiant set designer Beowulf Borritt or the equally able non-Canadian director, Christopher Ashley. Nor could the dozen actors, Canadian or American, for all their competence, achieve much with material begging for oblivion.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Another disappointment is Sara Ruhl’s “How to Transcend a Happy Marriage.” Although  having succeeded with several tries mostly well received by others, Ruhl’s  plays worked only once for me. Pretentiousness does not make good bread and butter. What we have here is a quasi-serious comedy trying to be several things: an ambivalent bow to polymorphous sex, a display of the learning worthy of a poeta doctus, a conglomeration of philosophical apothegms, and speculations about whether one should slaughter—and perhaps even hunt down—the animals one eats.

The plot? Paul and his wife George (note the masculine short for Georgia) are a happily married fortyish couple, best friends with the only slightly older Jane and Michael. They all have unseen children, the latter couple an intermittently runaway high school problem daughter, Jenna. All is well enough until they become fascinated by the thought of a temp in Jane’s law office, Daborah,,self-declared member of a sexual threesome, who will casually slaughter a goat for dinner. This young woman lives with David and Freddie, and sleeps with both. That occupies the conversation of the two couples for a whole scene, at the end of which they decide to invite the trio for New Year’s Eve supper.

In the next scene, Jane and Michael are duly hosting that supper for Dah-vid, as his foreign origin has him pronounce his name, the childlike Freddie, and the lovely temp now named Pip. They all have a whale of a good time, first discussing and finally indulging in an orgy for seven. All sorts of shenanigans prevail, involving such things as karaoke singing, verse recitation, and Paul’s revelation that he once slaughtered a chicken and is now ready to do a duck.  

In the next scene, Pip, presently under yet another name, is out hunting with George in the wilds of New Jersey.  Bow and arrows somehow bring the women closer than ever, disrupted only by George’s accidentally shooting a dog she mistakes for a deer. Moreover, unlicensed for hunting, the women are briefly imprisoned (no bail?), but Pip vanishes, changed, as George speculates, into a bird.

Lastly, except for David and Freddie searching for the vanished Pip, with even George briefly running after them, pursued in turn by Paul, things are looking up, and even the escape-prone Jenna is back home reconciled.  George delivers a closing monologue, exclaiming, “Oh my God, we’re all straining so hard for transcendence, and there it was all along.”
                                                                                                                                                          
Herewith some specimens of how Ms. Ruhl (Lady of Misrule?) writes, beyond her invention of arcane words like flexitarian, polyamory, and compersive, and her word games such as “something feral, smelling slightly of fur.”

“People judge you, you know, even in Portland.” [Wit.] “Prairie vole” as distinct from ordinary vole. [Erudition.] “In fact, it might be [Pip’s] ordinary relationship with her fearless sensuality, which does not require deodorant or lipstick, that makes everyone immediately think about sex. She is unvarnished and unashamed.”  [Phrase-making.] Throwing “garbage into garbage—it’s like our whole culture.” [Sociology.] “I feel a little foggy, like a boat. Maybe we could all go kayaking.” [Prose poetry.] Stage direction: “They kiss, it’s about forgiveness and love.” [Psychology.]
“ Maybe we should not all be fucking each other all the time. But maybe we could form like a band, or something” [Humor.] Stage direction, with reference to Jenna’s violin playing: “More and more violins are playing [Bach of course] until it feels as though 300 children were playing in one church.” [ Secular piety.]

There is good direction by Rdbecca Teichman, interestingly sleak scenery by David Zinn, apt costumes from the dependable Susan Hilferty, and good acting from the cast. We get a manly Paul from Omar Metwally, a tender George from Marisa Tomei, a sympathetic Jane from Robin Weigert, and a handsome Pip from Lena Hall. That a supposedly white European immigrant, David, is played by a manifestly American black actor, Austin Smith, is only slightly jarring. Todd Almond contributed discreet music.

“Linda” is a silly play by Penelope Skinner with a superb performance in the title role by Janie Dee, who smartly turns dross into gold. I hesitate to pronounce a performance as redeeming an entire dreary play, but this one actually does. Ms. Dee was here 17 years ago in Alan Ayckbourn’s “Comic Potential,”a much better part in a far superior play, but regrettably nothing else until now.
My comment about her performance in the Ayckbourn concluded, “It leaves one pleasurably gasping. I am not sure that I have ever seen its equal, but I am quite certain I have never seen, nor ever will see, its superior.” And here she finally is in a less good role in a much lesser play, but being no less extraordinary. All I can say is hallelujah. 

13 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Gee, we missed his birthday!
    http://www.theaterscene.net/blogs/one-long-extravaganza/john-simon-92/darryl-reilly/

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm very glad to see you writing theater criticism again.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Mr. Simon, the play that you are thinking of about a flying ace is called Billy Bishop Goes to War. It concerns the career of a great Canadian WWI flying ace who may or may not have greatly exaggerated his tally of kills.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Multiculturalism is like a cancer that keeps on metastasizing. It never stops. It grows bigger and bigger and demands more and more Diversity until the native host population is consumed and devoured by it.

    PC or Political Correctness is the mental virus that fools a people into seeing Multiculturalism as a magic cure than as the cancer that it really is.

    Those who ignore cancer because it begins as a small tumor doesn't understand its true nature. Unlike a birthmark or mole that remains fixed in size, cancer cells tirelessly grow and spread, eventually to sicken and kill the person.
    Likewise, those who ignore multiculturalism as just some small thing fail to realize that it is a radical ideology designed to keep increasing foreign populations until the native folks are reduced to cowered and powerless minority.

    It is natural for a society to have minorities. That is not the problem. Every society has some minorities.
    However, multi-culturalism isn't about humane tolerance of existing minorities. It is a radical ideology insisting that MORE minorities and foreigners must be added UNTIL the native majority is reduced to a minority and shamed and intimidated into obeisance.

    It is about immigration-invasion and destruction of native folks and culture.

    There is no negotiating with multi-culturalists. They will not accept any limits on the percentage of minorities. If a nation is 99% white and willing to accept multiculturalism until the nation is 90% white, multiculturalists will only insist on more diversity. If the white majority settles for a 80% white nation, that won't be acceptable either. Indeed, the more you try to negotiate or compromise with multi-culturalists, the bolder and nastier they get. So, if you seek compromise for a nation that is to remain 60% white, the multi-culturalists will again say NO!
    Then 50%? 40%? 30%? No, the multi-culti process is radical & ravenous and continue with zeal even when whites become 10% or less of the original population.

    THAT is multiculturalism. It is a cancerous mechanism that never compromises and insatiably presses fore more conquest and concessions.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I once had an idea for a Canadian themed musical. This is a true story. I forget what the specifics were, but the play involved the mystery of a missing pair of hunters. The hunters were husband and wife. Turned out the husband had a sweetheart whom he sang songs with quite often, then one day they kissed and that's all she wrote. They were in love.

    I don't remember much, (this was 1974-ish) but I know the entire cast was dressed like campers or large trees, and we had a dancing bear. Some of the cast was dressed up as other animals. We had midgets playing inside of squirrel suits. One big midget played, "The Badger". The Badger did a phenomenal job. He had a great voice.

    Anyway, the real story is how I almost got this thing done. My best friend was a cigar dealer and scored Cuban cigars for Steven Stills. I found out and begged him to talk to Steven about letting me get fifteen minutes with Neil Young. We wanted to use some of Neil's music and even wished he would come in with us on the idea. So, CSN&Y were having a party for one of their new records, and my friend and I got an invite. Neil was going to talk to me about it!

    Well, not to be anticlimactic, but, I talked to him, he was very nice, he agreed to think about it, but we never heard from him. Neil is a fantastic person, though. One of the nicest people I've ever met.

    By the way, the dancing bear was a real bear. He was some kind of circus bear they had trained. His name was (of course) Smokey. The reason they named him Smokey was because one of his tricks was smoking cigarettes. I asked the trainer if he was ever dangerous, and he no. He said, at one time he had had a bad personality, but then they pulled all of his teeth and claws out. When they pulled all that out, he became completely subdued. The most he would do was tackle someone and gum on them for a couple seconds.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Globalist use the Numbers Game to hoodwink peoples around the world.

    Globalists say if a nation has a certain population, that NUMBER = NATION.

    So, if Nation A has 50 million people of A-ethnicity, that nation MUST maintain that number in order to 'survive' as that nation. So, if the population is anticipated to decline to 40 million, it has to get 10 million people to maintain the magic number of 50 million. So, numbers trump ethnicity. According to this view, Nation A with 40 million people of A-ethnicity is less A-ish than Nation A with 40 million people of A-ethnicity and 10 million people of B-ethnicity.

    Take Poland. Its population is 40 million. Suppose Poland's population is destined to decline to 20 million in 100 yrs. Now, a sane person will say Poland will be Poland whether it has 40 million or 20 million since Poles live in Poland. But globalists will differ and say 20 million people(even if non-Polish) must be added to keep Poland Polish. So, Poland is essentially a number. According to globalists, a Poland that is 20 million Polish and 20 million Nigerian is more Polish than a Poland that is all Polish at 20 million. Indeed, by globalist rules, a Poland that is 40 million Nigerian(with no Poles) is more Polish than a Poland that is 20 or 30 million all Polish.

    Globalism says there is no deep connection of ethnicity, territory, and history for a nation. Anyone who barges into Poland has a 'human right' to be Polish. So, if 10 million Nigerians barge into Poland for gibs-me-free-stuff, they are Polish. And if real Poles condemn such invasion and demand that the Negroes return to Nigeria, they are un-Polish since such 'xenophobia' is not what 'European values' are all about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies


    1. Using this globalist logic, we could argue that Jews were not Jews after WWII. After all, if a people are defined by a number, then Jews were no longer Jews since they lost millions in the Holocaust, anywhere from 4 to 6 million. Let's assume the number of Jewish dead in WWII is 6 million.

      Now, by some estimates, the Jewish population of Europe prior to WWII & Holocaust was 10 million. So, Jewishness = 10 million people. Since 6 million were lost in the war & extermination, it means Jews were no longer Jewish since 6 million were gone and the magic # of 10 million was lost. In order for Jews to be Jewish again, the 6 million losses have to filled in by any bunch of people. So, using globalist logic, Jews should have recruited 6 million gentiles to become 'New Jews' in order for Jews to be Jewish once again. And since Poles lost 3 million in the law, they had to get 3 million more people(even if non-Polish) to be Polish again.

      Now, you see how stupid such logic is. Whether there are 1 million Jews, 3 million Jews, 5 million Jews, or 10 million Jews, the fact of Jewishness isn't about statistics but ethnics. If a Jewish nation has 1 million Jews or 10 million Jews, it is Jewish if Jews are the predominant ethnic group of the nation. If Nigeria has 100 million people and if all of them die due to some epidemic, it is not Nigeria again if 100 million Hindus or Russians resettle it. It will be New India or New Russia.

      But globalists are playing a clever numbers game in persuading nations that their essence and identity are pegged to some demographic magic number. So, if Japan currently has 100 million, it must maintain that number in order to remain Japan. If the population goes down to 70 million, that ain't Japan no more. It needs 30 million additional people --- even if non-Asian and disruptive to Japanese society --- in order for Japan to remain Japanese.

      Globalism is controlled largely by Jews, and if Jews want to use such logic, then we should say Jews in Europe are not Jewish since there are only 1.5 million Jews in current Europe. Since Jewish population of Europe was 10 million in 1939, there has to be 10 million Jews in Europe today in order for Jews to be Jews. So, what current Jews-in-Europe need to do is to turn 8.5 million gentiles into 'New Jews' in order to reach that magic number of 10 million.
      Only then will there be Jews in Europe again. Therefore, unless Jews accept 8.5 million gentiles as 'New Jews', there are no real Jews in Europe since demographic numerology says there must be 10 million Jews in Europe in order for Jews to 'survive' as Jews.
      Sounds crazy? Well, that's what Jewish globalists tell goyim around the world.

      Don't you believe it.

      Delete
  8. Muslim Terrorist Attacks in the West are partly the Continuation of the Clash of Cultures between Arab Islamism and African Savagery

    There's long been a violent Clash of Cultures between the Muslim World(especially Arab) and the Afro-pagan World. Arab Muslims considered black Africans to be wild, savage, lascivious, and beastly. So, Arab Muslims not only enslaved black Africans but castrated them to tame their Jungle Nature. It was Jihad Justice against Jungle Junk. This went on over many centuries. Scholars say Arabs enslaved millions of black Africans, seeing them as little more than animals.
    But Arabs also spread Islam among black Africans, and many black Africans became Muslims and waged Culture War on other black Africans who were seen as mired in tribal-pagan-savagery.
    As both the West and the Muslim World were dominated by spiritual institutions, the main thrust of their moral-cultural narrative was directed against black African savagery that was regarded in a negative light, not good for much of anything. White Christians and Arab Muslims felt that black Africans had value only as slaves or converts to Christianity or Islam. They didn't find intrinsic value in black African-ness.

    That was then, this is now. With the ebbing of religion and morality in the West, Pop Culture became the main mode of cultural expression and experience. Also, with the fading of traditional mores of worship, the new religion became Political Correctness or Cult of Social Justice. PC came to be controlled by Jews.

    This gave a huge advantage to blacks. With the rise of electro-amplified Pop Culture, black music or black-inspired music came to dominate the modern world. The most popular music among Western elites is reggae. Among ordinary people, it's Rap or Hip Hop. Also, sports as the new national culture led to worship of blacks as heroes since blacks are most athletic. Also, the erosion of moral values led to sexual licentiousness, and the cult of black twerking booty and hung black dong became iconic in the Western/Modern mind. Black savagery, once regarded as the lowest mode of human existence, became the most popular and in demand(even though this techno-savagery often appeared in the form of imitation by white, brown, Jewish, or Hindu performers).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So, if the religious-moralistic Arab Muslim World and the White Christian World once had in common their low regard of black savagery as just backward, animal-like, crazy, and beastly, those facets of blackness came to be admired, adulated, fetishized, sensationalized, and even revered in the Age of Electronic Mammon.

      White girls now grow up to Rap music and Jungle Fever. White boys now grow up admiring black athletes who routinely beat up white males and colonize white wombs. Cuck-dom is the state of the Modern West, and most white men(except those in the Alt Right) have accepted their cuckdom. Much of Pop Culture in the US and EU are variations of Jungle Fever where white girls imitate black girls and fantasize about having sex with blacks and having mulatto babies. And there is hardly any resistance from white males since they've been lobotomized and castrated. (White fathers are more afraid to say, "I wish my white daughter marries a white guy" than "I'd be proud to see my daughter be knocked up by a black guy." ) Indeed, after these Muslim bombings, these cucked out males condemn Islam in defense of concerts that promote Jungle Fever among white girls and Cuck-wussiness among white males. For most whites, Homomania and Jungle Fever are their main cults or neo-religions.

      But blacks prevail over whites not only with sports, music, and sex. Because of the Slavery Narrative(and milking of 'white guilt' by PC) and the bellowing voice of the Negro, whites also see blacks as the Magic Race, the Holy Race, the soulful people of god. Your average white American worships MLK more than God; your average European worships Mandela more than Jesus.

      Delete
    2. But if White Christian West surrendered to Black Savagery, the Arab Muslim World is still in a state of Culture War with Black Africa. Arab Muslims never felt sorry or apologetic for their imperialism in Africa or black slave trade. If Christian morality is steeped in the cult of guilt, such is absent in Islam. Muhammad preached to his followers to be warriors, hardy and ruthless. So, Arabs don't feel sorry or guilty about their historical role in Africa. Also, if Christianity is a spent force and only survives in its secularized form of PC, Islam is still very much alive as a spiritual and moral force. As such, it still continues to see black African culture as savage, backward, beastly, and satanic. If the West gave up its traditional certitudes and now worship Negroes as heroes, studs, angels, and demigods, the Arab Muslims still regard themselves as culturally, morally, and spiritually more advanced than black Africans, indeed by light years.

      So, it must be strange when Arab Muslims come to the West and realize that black techno-savage culture is favored over Muslims by the white natives who are into reggae, jungle fever, black sports, and Magic Negro devotion.

      Even though Muslim terrorism is characterized in terms of Islam vs 'Western Values', it is really a Culture War between Arab Islamism and Black Africanism(that has culturally colonized the West and is now sexually colonizing the wombs of white women, with the sheepish approval of pathetic cucked-out white males). It is Jihad vs Jungle, a Clash of Cultures that's been going on over a thousand years. This battle is now being waged on Western Soil since both black Africans and Muslims have been allowed in huge numbers.

      This aspect of the clash might pass under the radar and elude detection because some of the Muslim attackers are black Africans and most of the victims are white Europeans. (Of course, PC pushes the notion of all People of Colors being united against 'white racism'.) But devout black Muslims have made the cultural shift from Jungle Jive to Jihad Justice. They've come to reject Afro-pagan-savagery. Also, those white victims are like 'whiggers' in the sense that their main modes of entertainment and enjoyment are immersion in black sports, sex, and music. In that sense, the so-called Clash of Civilizations we see today isn't Islam vs the West but Islam(still a spiritual-moral force) vs Whiggers(whose main objects of worship are electro-amplified Afro-savagery and homomania).

      Delete
  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You're criticizing the title of the play for being ungrammatical? If this were anyone but you, I'd think you were kidding. The title is a phrase that is *explained in the play* to be a regionalism -- a quaint expression, if you will. Seriously, John, you really are an irrelevant, superannuated joke. Time for the cream of wheat and lap blanket now, there's a good lad.

    ReplyDelete