Posts Tagged ‘Theater’

Mark: 4. Fourth Wall: 0

Friday afternoon

Me:  We’re going to a play tonight, Mark.  I need you to remember, it’s a play.  They have lines.  You can’t be shouting advice at the characters.  The people in the audience don’t like it.  You just can’t.

Mark (scoffing):  I’m in middle school now, Mom.  I know.


Friday evening

Eliza Doolittle (paraphrased):  You are a jerk and I can get along without you.

Henry Higgins (paraphrased):  Ha, ha.  Good one.  Great joke.  Now come home.

Eliza (paraphrased, singing):  The world gets along without you.  Stuff happens without you making it happen.  Even important stuff.  So sod off, Henry Higgins.

Henry:  (paraphrased):  Ha!  Hahaha!  I am a professor and I can argue this turn of events so I still look good!  You’re acting like a forceful independent person and it’s all thanks to ME.

Eliza stalks over to Henry.  Stands before him.  Tense moment of silence.

Mark:  SLAP HIM!

Guffaws in the audience around us, craning heads in the audience across the theater as people try to work out what was funny.

Sorry, Olney Theatre. We’re working it, I swear.

Mark Reviews Olney Theatre’s Mary Poppins

After the painful learning experience (to Mark–the production was excellent) of The Diary of Anne Frank, Mark was excited to have our next show be lighter fare.

Me:  “What did you like best about Mary Poppins?”  

Mark:  “I can’t say.  The whole thing was AMAZING.”

(silence while he considers further)

Mark:  “I liked how it had things from the movie and things from the book, AND new things.  But I missed ‘I love to laugh.'”

(interlude while he sings “I Love to Laugh.”  Feel free to sing along at home!

Mark:  “I LOVED the mean nanny.  I mean, she was the EXACT OPPOSITE of Mary Poppins.  Mary Poppins says ‘a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.’  Miss Andrew says ‘trenchcoat and treacle will work.'”

[points to mama here for holding it together as I realize he’s misheard the lyric ‘brimstone and treacle’ as ‘trenchcoat and treacle’.  Bonus points to Mark, though, for filling in an alliterative variant that more or less fits what he saw on stage–she was wearing something like a trenchcoat. ]

Mark:  “And the word shop.  The word shop was AWESOME.”

(interlude while he sings “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”  Free free to sing along at home!)

Me:  “What about the special effects?  Did you like knowing how some of them worked?”

[we attended a pre-performance workshop]

Mark (in a world-weary tone):  “Yes.  But I think I would have figured most of them out.”

Me [judiciously not mentioning his blase attitude now is in marked contrast to the excited whooping that accompanying Mary Poppins flying right over our heads at the end of the production–we were in the balcony]:  “Anything else?”

Mark:  “I thought the child actors were very brave, getting up in front of hundreds of people like that.”

P.S.  The cast was utterly kind, coming out to meet audience members and allowing photos with them.  Mark isn’t blowing after-the-fact smoke about the child actors either; we had to wait until they came out and he could tell them how impressed he was before we could go home.

P.P.S.  All three children were humming Mary Poppins songs Saturday morning (but not the same song), which I have to assume is a mark of a good experience.


The Diary of Anne Frank

So we went to see “The Diary of Anne Frank” at Olney Theatre Center on Friday.  Given our other experiences with Mark and theater (Godspell  and A Christmas Carol, for instance), I figured I’d better give him a plot summary beforehand.

Mark (listening with widening eyes):  “Are you sure this age appropriate?”

Me (in my head):  That’s a fair question, actually.  We didn’t take you to “Angels in America” last weekend, so what exactly makes the AIDS epidemic age-inappropriate but the Holocaust okay?   Context.  Handling.  Nobody’s naked on stage.  I’m not necessarily convincing myself. because that’s a lame bottom line.  But I say, “Yes.”

Mark:  “This doesn’t sound fun.  Theater is supposed to be fun.”

Me:  “Sometimes.  But sometimes theater is supposed to educate.”

Mark:  “Hmph.”

He’s okay through the first act.  At intermission he asks to go home:  “I don’t want to see this.  Theater is supposed to be fun.  This is NOT fun.”

Me:  “Theater is supposed to educate too.  Sometimes that means making us uncomfortable.”

Mark retorts:  “Well, it’s working then.”

It’s not helping Mark that Otto Frank is played by Paul Morella.  Mark is a Paul Morella groupie.  He insists on going to the one-man Christmas Carol every year and usually mouths along (silently, mostly) to his favorite parts:  “Marley was dead to begin with…”  Mark is just devastated by Otto Frank’s epilogue, made worse because his actor-hero seems so seriously unhappy.  His fists are clenched when the lights come up.  “I.  Am.  Going.  To.  Invent.  A. Time.  Machine.  And.  Stop.  This.”

Good job, theater.  Seriously.  The response to overwhelming injustice should be This should not have happened.  I want to keep it from happening.   But humans being what we are, it’s hard to get there with numbers.  We get there with stories.  Stories about individuals.

This, child, is why we’re here.





The Power of MOM

So we’re at Godspell Friday night.  Now, Godspell has some medievally moments of direct address and audience interaction.  Also the songs are pretty catchy and repeat themselves, so Mark was singing along regularly.  It’s karmic justice that I have a kid who does not believe in the fourth wall, given my research obsession with direct address.

All was well, more or less, during the first half.  The singing could be kept under control, and he agreed to dance in the aisle right by our seat.

Second act…not so much.  Because we get to the crucifixion.

Mark:  “[to me] What are they doing?  [to the actors] WHAT ARE YOU DOING?  [to me] HE’S DYING.  DO SOMETHING!”

Not sure what he thought I could possibly do but I’m choosing to be flattered that he thought I could do so.

What Fourth Wall?

So we went to see a one-man performance of ‘A Christmas Carol’.

Despite the unfortunate description that makes you think it’s doomed to failure, remembering the hilarious, dreadful one-man Hamlet that Kevin Kline is obsessed with staging in Soapdish (yes, I AM old), it was awesome.

The actor starts by explaining that Dickens did these sorts of performances, and invited the audience to feel comfortable responding if something moved them.

Me (in my head):  Uh-oh.

Because Mark doesn’t exactly need encouragement in this area…

But all went well (enough) until the very end.  Mark quailed at the ghosts, hissed when Scrooge said that the poor ought to  die and reduce the surplus population (along with everyone else–the actor was particularly excellent at this moment, shockingly matter of fact and calm), and mourned Tiny Tim.

And then there was the end.  Bob Cratchit comes in 15 minutes late, Scrooge starts chastising him, and Mark can’t tell he’s teasing.

Bob:  “I’m sorry, Mr. Scrooge. It’s only once a year.”

Scrooge:  “I’m not going to put up with this any longer.”


Scrooge:  “So I’m going to double your salary.”

Mark:  “OH!  Oh.  That’s okay then.”

Mark Reviews ‘Once on this Island’

Watching the male lead, Daniel, marry another girl after the female lead has saved his life because she loves him…

Mark (fists clenched):  “Daniel is a dirty double-crosser.”

To Be (Before Tea) or Not To Be

I hear quarreling in the kitchen as I’m coming down the stairs.  Uh-oh.  The kids have woken up crabby and are already fighting.  

Sam and Kate whip around as I come into the room.

“Mom!”  Sam pounces.  “Tell her Hamlet is SO about the need to take revenge.”

“UHNT-UH!” Kate objects before I can get a word in edgewise.  “It’s about putting OFF taking revenge.”

Sam:  “We just STUDIED this in my English class!”

Kate:  “Well, I went to go SEE it.”

Me:  “There’s not necessarily agreement on what Hamlet’s about.”  Certainly not before my morning, increasingly caffeinated, tea.

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