Monday, March 19, 2018

A Monday in March Flashback

Howdy, all!  I'm trying to get my energy back after seeing so many big messy plays, so I've slowed down a bit.  I am seeing something on Thursday, and then I have some birthday treats coming up, but I didn't want you to forget about me.  So here is a throwback/flashback review from 2007.  I'm not quite sure why I chose this one, maybe just because I loved the experience of seeing this show so much.  Or maybe because I'm terrified we're headed back to war, thanks to the horrible person currently living in the White House.  Who knows?  On a lighter note, you'll notice that my long-windedness is a relatively new development...

2/21/07:  Last night I went with a co-worker to see Journey’s End, the 1920’s play about Brits in a bunker during WW1.  I loved it.  I really loved everything about it—the acting, the writing, the set, everything.  Thumbs WAY up.

The set is a bunker, seemingly only lit by a few candles.  I will admit the set is dark, but that only forces you to pay attention.  I don’t know how it would play in the balcony, though.  I can see how it might be too dark from up there, but you never know.  I loved the realism and the hush the lighting forced on everything.

photo credit: Sara Krulwich
The play is written in such a way that it’s not didactic at all.  It’s very conversational, yet you get to know all of these characters pretty intimately.  There’s a lot of humor to break the tension, but it never seems forced.  You really get a sense of the honor of these men, with both their faults and their dignity.  How men respond in times of war, that kind of thing.  

All of the actors are spot on.  Boyd Gaines is giving a gorgeous performance, as usual.  I really marvel at his range.  He’s wonderful here and the heart of the play.  Hugh Dancy is quite good, but perhaps a little one-note, as the tortured captain of this company.  Plus, shallowly, he's just beautiful.  In the context of the play, watching this beauty possibly be destroyed is very moving.  Jefferson Mays, in a tiny role, is superb.  It’s the type of role that you probably wouldn’t even remember at the end of the evening if it wasn’t played by such a fabulous actor.  Stark Sands, much to my surprise, is a really grand stage actor!  He was the flake son in the Charles Busch movie, Die Mommy Die, and he was fine in the movie, but it really didn’t prepare me for the depth he brings to this role of a young idealistic soldier.  And his accent was on the money.  All of the accents were good—whoever was their dialect coach should be commended.  There were some older actors in the cast who were also quite good—John Ahlin as the heavyset soldier is excellent.  This is a seriously wonderful company of performers and it's a treat to see them all work as a unit, just like the band of soldiers they're portraying.

The last four minutes or so of the show are devastating.  I couldn’t breathe, tears were running down my face and I literally couldn’t applaud at the end of the show.  I was just too stunned.  It’s quite a coup de theatre.  I found it incredibly powerful and moving and I don't think I'll ever forget it.  Even my co-worker seemed moved and he’s become awfully blasé after seeing his hundreds of shows.

I do have one tiny quibble:  there is an awkward scene break for the intermission.  The play itself is in three acts, and where they have to take the break (to avoid having two intermissions, which I would've preferred) becomes awkward in the second act for a scene break (there’s a huge change in tone that’s a little hard to hang with), but that’s a minor complaint for such a grand night out at the theater.  Yet another strong revival of a little-performed play starring real theater actors, not just stars, that reminds you what a statement a good play can make.  I'm so glad I saw it.

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