The Playgoer: "Balance" Optional?

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

"Balance" Optional?

I have no wish to harp on this Boston preem of "Rachel Corrie," but I just realized this whole plan of the New Rep theatre to balance it with a more Israel-friendly one-woman show (Pieces) actually doesn't work!

The plays perform only in rep and tickets are sold separately to both.

Not even a discount for the pair!

So how does this achieve the sought-for "balance"? Nothing is compelling the audience to see both plays. Why not just see the one you "agree" with? ("Let's not and say we did," I bet is a tempting response regarding the other one.) I mean, it is an extra $25. If you're going to make me pay for my pro-Likud "equal time" after Corrie, I might as well just stop by Barnes & Noble on the way home, buy a remaindered copy of Bibi Netanhayu's latest screed and spend the extra cash on the stiff drink I'll need to help wash it down.

4 comments:

isaac said...

Hey Garrett,

ALthough I have no experience of the show that is paired with Corrie I do have some experience (of a friendly and working sort) with Zohar Tirosh, and I can say flat out that she is definitely not a Likudnik and I'd be awfully surprised if her show turned out to be Likudnik in any way, shape or form.

The Playgoer said...

Isaac--point taken. I apologize for my sloppiness in getting to my punchline there.

I really didn't mean to (pre)judge the play "Pieces" as any particular kind of politics. I was focusing more on the INTENT to program something opposite to Corrie.

I do understand from what you say--and from the reviews--that it's hardly an Israel or Die tract. And I apologize to Tirosh, as well.

Daniel Bourque said...

I saw the show the other night and wasn't terribly impressed with it either as a text or production. When I was studying theatre in undergrad, I remember hearing all these stories about riots during plays in the 18th century and thought, "this could be my chance!" But alas, there was no one screaming "Anti-Semite!" when I entered the theatre, nor was Alan Dershowitz on hand to castigate me for my choice of entertainment for the evening.

As a play alone, taken out of -ahem- Context "My Name Is Rachel Corrie" felt uneven from start to finish, with the second half far more compelling then the unfocused first. The biggest problem with the play is the text- the idealistic, naval-gazing, solipsistic journals of young women rarely make for writing that holds up over the long term, (whether or not they make for interesting reading is another story) and it's to the credit of Rickman and Vitner as co-authors of the play that they managed to make something out of her messy, dreamy writings that resembled a narrative at all. Director David Gammon's staging did little to help make the play more interesting and seemingly took the easiest way out of everything- having Corrie (Stacey Fischer) roll around on the floor at the beginning swaddled in blankets might seem like an inspired bit of naturalism in reflection of the text, but it's boring to look at and goes on far too long. Why Gammons chose for her to constantly leave the stage to retrieve items also isn't clear, and the design work felt muddled and transitions off. There's way too damn much of Fischer standing around in the dark, and the sound design felt forced with sitcom "laughs" and "commercial" cues during those sequences. As a performer, Fischer has a thin reedy voice that barely held up over the course of the play, but her heartfelt commitment to the role was clear. That her performance wasn't really great or ultimately that fulfilling wasn't really her fault, but rather that the text didn't give her room for breath and forever hemmed in with its literary limitations.

So this was no "Playboy of the Western World" experience if you will. And maybe that's the point of putting the play in "Context" (there's that word again!) to rob it of all the danger that it once (or might ever) have and make it easier to sell. Funnily enough, the marketing was so complete on this "experience" that when I bought my tickets (through Artsboston; which is sort of like TDF/TKTS for Boston theatergoers) the description offered no distinction between MNIRC or Pieces- I had to double check dates between the two to get the right show.

Edward Einhorn said...

With all the complaining about Rachel Corrie, I have not heard anyone say that it is a good play. What's amazing to me is not that it's opposed by certain people, or "balanced", but that it's performed at all. With so many well crafted, beautiful plays that are not seeing any stage time whatsoever (or even flawed plays that never see the light of day), why Rachel Corrie? The answer, I think, that Corrie is being produced not depsite its point of view, but because of it. It is a play about hot button issue, dealt with in a hot button way. So of course it elicits reaction. But it didn't elicit that recaction, it would suffer the fate of most mediocre plays--obscurity.

Edward Einhorn