Saturday, September 29, 2012

Well, duh

I don't think I've ever LOL'd at a theater review before, but I couldn't help it when I was reading Ben Brantley's review of Adam Rapp's THROUGH THE YELLOW HOUR:
As a doomsday scenario, much of “Yellow Hour” might have been written in the 1950s or even earlier. Of course then you wouldn’t have had the requisite Rapp foul language and effluvia, not to mention full-frontal nudity. When, toward the end, a character asks, “Should I take my clothes off?” your instinct is to cry out, “Well, duh.” For better or worse, Mr. Rapp remains true to form.
I guess Rapp should be grateful to Charles Isherwood for declaring that he would no longer be reviewing the work of Adam Rapp - that job has been given to top-dog NYTimes reviewer Brantley.  Although Brantley doesn't seem to like his work much more than Isherwood.  Brantley thinks that Rapp is unoriginal - 
(Rapp) tells stories with infectious enthusiasm. But he also, almost always, tells stories that you feel you’ve heard before.

Which reminds me of the review from 2006 from the Village Voice's Michael Feingold of Rapp's RED LIGHT WINTER when Feingold said: 
Despite my admiration for Adam Rapp's writing, I've stayed away from his plays the last few years - no easy task, given his prolific output - because they were starting to give me the locked-in feeling of a gifted artist endlessly circling round and round the same material, looking for someplace else to go but unceratin what direction to take next. In Rapp's case, this sense of imprisonment was particularly grueling because of the relentless sordidness in his work: characters always at the bottom of life, actions always the harshest and ugliest.
So in the six years, Rapp has gone from repeating himself so much that Feingold "stayed away from his plays" to Ben Brantley suggesting he's repeating cultural tropes.

This time around the Village Voice assigned the Rapp review to Alexis Solomon. She also seems to think it's derivative:
If you have some comfort with female nudity and have sat through at least one Sarah Kane play, there’s little here to shock, but plenty to provide welcome shudders and less-welcome eye-rolling.
Unfortunately she doesn't go into details about what makes it eye-rolling. Although I can imagine.

But really it doesn't matter - it's long-ago been determined that Adam Rapp is  brilliant and he will get as many chances as necessary to produce the same old dystopian, macho schtick again and again, because producers and audiences agree that the quality most necessary for An Important Play is portentousness. 

Well, duh.

I saw an article in the NYTimes today "Can Art Still Shock" which has an interview with Adam Rapp, which has the usual predictable macho bullshit:
I refuse to see theater simply as entertainment. It should challenge an audience and push them away from what TV generally gives them. And sometimes a good punch to the stomach or a kick to the shins can be a very good thing. The English playwright Howard Brenton once said, “Theater’s a real bear pit.” I believe in this very much.
Clearly Adam Rapp doesn't watch much television if he thinks that it is any less likely to "challenge" an audience than theater. But critics and writers at the NYTimes absolutely lap that shit up. And Rapp knows it which is why he gives them a physical assault as a metaphor for "good" theater.

The most amusing aspect is that they all seem to think it's such a huge accomplishment to shock and offend people.

Shocking and offending people is the easiest thing to do in the world, and because of this, there is an entire etiquette advice industry expressly designed to help people avoid it. And if you bother reading etiquette columns, like Dear Prudence or Dan Savage, you can see how shocking and offensive people are - often while trying their best not to be.

Any dim-witted oaf can shock and offend people.

And that's why it's so popular with most people in the art world. It's easy to do and as creatures of privilege they will never have to suffer the consequences of shocking and offending others.

And what that's about is displaying their high status in the human hierarchy. How boring and typical.