Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Politics and Plays, New and Old

So glad to see that my home state of Pennsylvania gave Hillary Clinton such a resounding victory in the primary yesterday. It was odd to see all the Clinton/Obama supporters out in force when I was in Pittsburgh over the weekend. Even if the primary process feels like one of those time loops that the Enterprise would often get caught up in various Star Trek episodes, I'm glad to see that Hillary's tenacity — perhaps stubbornness is a better word — is paying off. They're not only qualities I admire, they're qualities I embody far too often.

Although I didn't check out Rabbit Hole at the Pittsburgh Public Theater or Dakin Matthews as King Lear during my trip, I have been spending many an evening at theaters in New York. I was surprised at how dated much of Paul Rudnick's The New Century felt. "Mr. Charles, Currently of Palm Beach," which nearly caused me to bust a gut laughing when I first saw it at the EST Marathon about 10 years ago, hasn't aged well in our post-Will & Grace world. I wish Rudnick had written a whole new piece for the fabulous Peter Bartlett instead of attempting to freshen up the old one with a John McCain. The only one of the four segments that I thought was genuinely funny and moving was the one featuring Jayne Houdyshell as a midwestern mother who'd turned to crafting after the death of her son from AIDS.

Manhattan Theater Club's small Stage II was packed for Tuesday night's performance of The Four of Us, a really smart, only occasionally self-indulgent play about how the friendship between two young writers falls apart in the wake of success and jealousy. Sure, ince the play's supposed to be based on author Itamar Moses' friendship with Jonathan Safran Foer, I was a little more interested than I might ordinarily be, but I was impressed and moved at how well and how subtly Moses depicted the power struggles and shifts that occur in friendships over time and the pain that occurs when one person needs more than the other is able to give.

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