Monday, October 22, 2012

Pinter the Poet

Sands in A Celebration of Harold Pinter.

There's a Pinter lovefest going on over at the Irish Rep, with British actor Julian Sands of A Room With a View fame performing Pinter's poetry and prose--interspersed with reminiscences from himself and others--in the John Malkovich-directed A Celebration of Harold Pinter, which I enjoyed on a Saturday afternoon.

Not included in the hour-and-a-quarter show, although it's one of my favorite bits of Pinter prose, is this gem that appeared in The Guardian in 2003, when the paper solicited greetings for President Bush's on his first state visit to Great Britain:

Dear President Bush,

I'm sure you'll be having a nice little tea party with your fellow war criminal, Tony Blair. Please wash the cucumber sandwiches down with a glass of blood, with my compliments.

Harold Pinter

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Author, Author (and Director, Director)

Larry Pine and Gia Crovatin in "Lovely Head."

You don't often see names like Neil LaBute, Estelle Parsons or Craig Bierko in shows at La MaMa, let alone all three of them involved in the same production. But they're all part of AdA (Author directing Author), two one-acts from LaBute and Italian up-and-comer Marco Calvani. As you might have guessed from the title, the catch is that each author directs the other's play, and by the end audiences are likely to want membership in this mutual admiration society.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Up in Smoke

Jennings and McCormick in Ten Chimneys.

Having appreciated the stage work of Carolyn McCormick and Byron Jennings, who are married in real life, for many years (not to mention the former's appearances on Law & Order, I was pleased to have the opportunity to see them onstage together. In Jeffrey Hatcher's entertaining but uneven Ten Chimneys, they star as famed theater actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, who were married in real life.

It's a particularly grand showcase for McCormick, who reaches full diva mode on more than one occasion. Were we living in the 1930s, when the play is set, a time when actors could become famous from stage work alone, I wonder if they would have emerged as a starry duo.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Dan From Downton

Dan Stevens

One of the great things about writing features for the Theater section of Time Out New York is getting to do in-person interviews. Filmmakers are already finished with their product, so who knows where they might be; and musicians are likely to be on tour somewhere. But stage actors and directors have to be in New York, and even writers who don't live here are likely to be around for rehearsals.

And who would want to pass up the chance to meet one of the stars of Downton Abbey, especially when it's Dan Stevens, a.k.a. Cousin Matthew, who's making his Broadway debut in The Heiress with Jessica Chastain. When I spoke to him in September, he'd just returned from a quick trip to London, where he and his fellow Booker Prize judges were meeting to vote on the short list, and not long after we start our interview, who should saunter over to us in the lobby cafe of the Signature Center (where the cast was rehearsing) but Ms. Chastain herself, with a reporter from British GQ. Sometimes the pageantry of writing about Broadway is as good as the actual pageantry of attending a Broadway show.

After the interview, I left the building at the same time as Stevens and the show's press agent. We walked past a couple of Signature employees, and when we got outside, Dan headed off to lunch and the press agent and I stopped to chat for a bit. One of the employees we'd passed, a very giddy young woman, came outside and practically pleaded with us to help her get a picture of Stevens. Since I don't work for the show, I couldn't help her, and the press agent was returning to his office for the rest of the afternoon, but he assured he would be returning in a half hour after, and even suggested that age-old tactic of standing behind a pillar, waiting till he walked by and then "accidentally" walking into him.

Some of the best theater in New York does not happen on the stage!