Sunday, January 08, 2017


I went to see the play THE SECRET LIVES OF EDWARD GOREY. It was OK, but it wasn't so much a play as a stylized lecture on the life of Edward Gorey, complete with a slide show. Granted, some of the slides were cleverly animated, and the biographical time-line was not a simple chronology,  but still. The play pretty much completely threw out the playwright's rule of "show not tell" - it was almost completely tell.

It reminded me a little of the play POWERHOUSE, another biographical play about a minor celebrity I don't care about and which left me emotionally unaffected. Although POWERHOUSE was much more frenetic than GOREY.

I submitted my Norma Jeane play to the people who produced GOREY, and now I understand why, at least in part, they rejected it - my play, although it refers to - and enacts - several moments from Monroe's life, is an actual play, with conflict and in which events unfold in the now before the audience. I guess the producers prefer the more reminiscence-based approach when it comes to biographical plays.

As I said, I'm not really interested in Edward Gorey. I went to see this play because it is a biographical piece and I was looking for some possible inspiration as I prepare to produce my Norma Jeane play. Plus I had a discount ticket.

I do like Gorey's clean black and white illustration style, which reminds me a little of the work of Aubrey Beardsley - although Beardsley's line was more graceful and Beardsley had a much more erotic imagination. And Gorey's focus on the macabre doesn't really work for me. But you know, it's fine.

The only thing I really find interesting about Gorey is the fact that Wikipedia counts him as an asexual. The idea that someone could go through life without feeling erotic attraction for anybody is so bizarre and incomprehensible to me, I was hoping there would be quite a bit of focus on that. But instead the play seems to think he was just a deeply closeted gay man, who perhaps did not get a lot of action, but in his old age was content with his isolated existence on Cape Cod with seven cats and various weird collections (e.g. a postcard collection of Victorian post-mortem photography focused on dead babies.)  And Gorey wasn't much on intellectual curiosity from what I can tell. I mean, he had a degree in French literature from Harvard but he never went to France.

In spite of all of this, the play got great reviews. There is no accounting for critics' taste.