Wednesday, August 23, 2006

What I saw at the OSF

In the couple of weeks that I've been in Ashland, I've seen a few shows.

Here are my shameless plugs for the ones I liked.

Inge had some tough competition when he was writing. Williams. Miller. A dead O'Neill. Albee a little later. But this play is beautiful and beautifully done at this year's festival. Done properly, it's got sentiment without becoming sentimental and the perverted professor who is contemplating a scummy rendezvous with the too young waitress of the play's diner is played dangerously well. And it's just completely devasting to watch the old cowboy go through the door into the barren winter landscape at the end of the play. All I can say is, Yes, please, more please, to this big mid-century play in a genre no one seems to write anymore.

I have to admit that, as a reader, I've always read this play with a little professor in the back of my mind who yelled: THIS IS A GREAT WITTY PLAY. IF YOU DO NOT LIKE IT OR GET IT YOU ARE A DULLARD. (Yes, he yelled in all caps, just like Dave Barry.) Well, I got it, but I never liked it. In fact, I always found it a little boring and too show-off smart for its own good. (Just like Wilde.) Worse, every movie, every theatre production, every everything I've ever seen of this play has been not only boring, but actually unfunny. So, when I sat down to see this show here I was ready to be bored in three acts again. Fortunately, I was suprised. Peter Amster has injected this comedy of the superficial crusty class with some physical comedy bits. And for the first time, I actually laughed as Wilde's ridiculous tale of coincidences and handbags came alive. (I may still, of course, be a DULLARD, but at least I finally enjoyed the play in some form.)

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