Monday, June 4, 2012

Great Deeds

Conor Lovett in Title and Deed

You never know who you'll run into at the Signature Center. Tuesday night John Guare was there, to see either Title and Deed or Medieval Play, I imagine. He wasn't in the audience of My Children! My Africa! because that's the show I was seeing, and with the audience on three sides of the stage, he'd have been noticed. I did spot Jay O. Sanders and Maryann Plunkett, as well as Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis in the house.

During intermission I also spotted Will Eno in the lobby. Title and Deed, his 70-minute monodrama, which I'd seen a few days earlier, had already concluded for the night, and he was waiting for the actor who stars in it. He knew about the minor mishap that occurred the night I saw the show: About 15 minutes in, the stage lights went down, the house lights came up, and Conor Lovett, the performer, looked perplexed and bewildered. But having been fooled by One Man, Two Guvnors into thinking that a metatheatrical device was something that happened by chance, I wondered if this wasn't part of the play. Even after a young woman in a headset came into the house and explained that the fire alarm had been triggered but everything was fine and the show would resume shortly.

Lovett didn't wait. He stepped into the house via a ramp that leads from the stage and was able to pick up where he left off, though he certainly found a better rhythm when the lights returned to normal and he got back on the stage. (Will told me that the problem was smoke used in Medieval Play that got out of control.)

Title and Deed is another Eno gem that zings from quirkiness to profundity beautifully and effortlessly and before you even realize what's happened. "You look like you were just born. Most people get over that," is what the character in this play recalls an ex-girlfriend saying to him. Funny, but haunting, too.

I'm not that great at describing the plots of his plays, but themes are another matter. The soul's need to find a place of permanency in a world where everything is just temporary is what I'd say the play is about. Indirectly it relates to the economic crisis this country is in and yet is about so much more.