Friday, May 05, 2006


My friend Michael took me to see this play last night. I must first tell you that I expected (I'm not sure why) this play to be similar to an Agatha Christy play like 10 Little Indians and such. I was wrong. Actually I was so wrong that the play wasn't even a mystery. The play was based on the film DOGME from Scandinavia. It's set was a raked, naked, black carpeted stage with a black painted brick wall background. Very stark and cold. The lighting was the same stark, naked and used sparingly and in isolated areas on the stage. From scene to scene we saw set pieces fly in and out ( bed, chairs & a huge dining table that sat the entire cast). As far as the story goes, we find we're joining a Danish (well to-do) family celebrating the father's 60th birthday shortly after the suicide of one of this father's twin children. All the children have come home for this event and are staying the night in the mansion they grew up in. Through the course of the evening Christian (the surviving twin played by Michael Hayden) accuses his father, in his birthday toast, of raping both he and his twin sister through their childhood at bathtime. Now I find this a very brutal subject matter, but what makes it uglier is the fact that the family goes on and pretends that Christian is just causing trouble and no such thing ever happened to him or his twin sister. Later we find that Christian also accuses his father of being responsible for his twin sister's suicide (which was slitting her wrists in a bathtub). Again, the evening goes on as if Christian is just trying to make trouble. Lot's of wine and food ensue and the audience watches the entire cast have dinner after finding out all of this. Silence. Is the silence the meaning of the play? It may well be, but I kept feeling the Scandinavian direction of the play throughout the entire play. The clean lines of the set. The silence and lack of music, but instead the director played the sounds of a little girl laughing and the trickle of water in a bath. Not so much scary as disturbing. I won't tell you the ending, but you won't leave the theater uplifted with a Hollywood ending - that's for sure. As for the cast, playing the matriach of this family Else, was Ali MacGraw. She was awful, I've seen better performances in community theater. I wanted to send my friend Michael onstage and have him read the role cold, out of the script, and it would have been better than her horrible, awful performance. And she's a star? Oh my. Also, the two other children were played by Jeremy Sisto (Michael) and Julianna Margulies (Helene). Jeremy Sisto basically played the same character from Six Feet Under and honestly, not that good. He kept tripping on his own lines and had to start them over again. I would venture to guess he did this 10 times before act 1 was over. I was unimpressed. As for Julianna Marguiles, she was great. She absolutely had the tools for stage acting and used them impressively. The lesser known actors in the show were truly the talent though. With such a raw, difficult script they brought their characters to life with layers and depth Ali MacGraw could only hope to read about one day. On the whole, don't spend your money on this one. It's an actor's show - and if your not in the biz you'll most likely only be shocked by the stark, harsh reality.


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