Sunday, October 19, 2014

Estro-subgenius and goat cheese balls

Celia & Val
My friend Valerie is performing in a play that is part of the Estrogenius show and comped me in Saturday night.

I'm sure glad I didn't pay because although Valerie was good, of course, most of those plays were just awful.

I should say that I'm not big on the whole Estrogenius thing, being associated with the dread Manhattan Theater Source, which seems to be living on without a building. So I might not be completely objective, but our friend Celia didn't like them much either.

But Celia, like most human beings, doesn't have an extreme, insanely visceral reaction to bad plays, like I do. I don't know why I have such extreme reactions but I do. Luckily I was able to sit in the corner in the back row, so I didn't have to annoy many other audience members with my writhing in agony, banging my head against the brick wall that was conveniently right next to me, etc..

The first play was about three female coal miners. The play never told us why female coal miners, which is pretty damn rare. The three female coal miners had no luck finding coal, and their boss lady, dressed in office casual came down into the mine to tell them they were on the verge of being fired.

So two of the miners hold hands and "cast a spell" that we are not allowed to hear - they do it silently in their minds - and then the other miner finds coal.

There's a canary in the coal mine with them (which of course should mean that this play is set no later than the 1980s, which would really beg the question why female coal miners) and right after they find coal, the canary dies. And for some reason, even though boss lady in office casual seemed to have no trouble coming down into the cave, and then getting out, the miners can't get out in time to avoid being overcome by carbon monoxide. One of them tries any way, and the other two just lay down and die. THE END.

The next play in the line-up was about a widowed woman who wanted her best friend, a woman, to sleep with her. Because she was lonely at night in bed. I mean, basically she wanted to have a slumber party with her friend, but it's made into this big big deal. The dialog for this one was so bad I ended up jamming my fingers into my ears because it was so annoying. To give some idea of how poorly thought-out the dialog was, at one point the friend is telling the widow that she feels bad because she has it so much better than the poor lonely widow. She says something like, "I get to go home to Bob, who is probably watching the game in his underwear while drinking a beer, and I'll have to tell Bob to stop being such a slob, and then I get to go to bed with him." Which should make the widow feel better about being alone, but that's not what the playwright was trying to say.

The next play was a relief from the uniform awfulness of the first two (and the ones that came after) because it actually made a coherent point and did it without relying completely on exposition the way every other play in this show did. The play was about an African American woman who had once interviewed for a job as a maid, back in... I'm going to guess the 1960s, and was told that she had to enter the apartment through a special servants door. Flash forward to the present, and the woman's daughter, a successful lawyer, has bought the same apartment and the woman and her granddaughter decide the one-time servants door will be a special door for the granddaughter. The dialog and pacing could have been better, but it was a precious gem of a play compared to everything else in the line-up.

My friend Val performed in the next play, and boy was it a bad play. And she had a horrible thankless role. It's roles like this that really make me feel for actors. Her role was basically to be the bitch who doesn't want anybody else to self-actualize. It had something to do with lobsters and the bitch's father-in-law giving a boat to the bitch's daughter, but the plot was so clumsily organized, the dialog so clunky with the relentless exposition that I don't really remember the details. The play ends with the bitch's husband getting a big clunky metaphor-laden speech about following your dream, and then everybody else leaves the room and we are left with the bitch standing there being a loser.

The last play in the line-up was so irritating that I again felt it necessary to jam my fingers in my ears half of the time. It involved the female protagonist - a writer and an obvious Mary Sue - having long exposition-laden conversations with a cute guy, including how she bonded with a mother black bear. The bear shows up at the end (not on stage, unfortunately) and I couldn't help wishing the bear in the play had the same attitude towards people as this bear in New Jersey.

Or at the very least, there could have been stage directions borrowed from Shakespeare: "Exit, pursued by a bear."

The ceiling at Euzkadi
Fortunately our post-show drinks were a lot more fun. We went to a tapas place nearby in the East Village called Euzkadi that had these amazing fried goat-cheese balls. And we killed two pitchers of sangria. That was nice too.

Also the decor at Euzkadi is inspired by the cave paintings at Lascaux, which was pretty cool.