More Guts, Please

ACT Neuters a Gallows-Comedy Masterpiece, a New Company Makes Zombies Scary Again

Comments

1
it's not GREEN glitter. Just glitter.
2
Couldn't agree more about Inishmore. It looks like they were afraid to lose subscribers, so opted to keep things as light as possible under the circumstances. Sean Griffin was the only performer who seemed to be able to find what was funny in the script without losing the stakes. Maybe Hunt was having an off night when I saw it, but I'd count her in with the rest of the cast--nothing there to make anyone uncomfortable. A big disappointment. I don't know what ACT's other McDonagh productions were like--I had hopes that they'd prepared their subscribers with the other plays, but perhaps they softened those as well.
3
@ 1. Well they must've lit it green. Because it presents itself to human eyeballs as green and glittery.
4
ACT performed "Lieutenant" as vaudeville, as an entertainment unto itself, without any regard for the underlying tragedy: a horrible civil war. Portraying the Troubles as a yuck-fest was borderline offensive. The satire in McDonagh's text was completely disrespected.

In a commentary attached to the Stranger's ACT page I discuss the problem of less-than-convincing stage gore, a variation of the Uncanny Valley problem in CGI. This is a big problem and it's getting worse. Too many stage directors are undermining the theatrical experience by misusing their bag of tricks.
5
I think we should cal the real IRA and tell them about the show. I hope the director values his kneecaps.
6
I've agreed at least 90% with Brendan's two recent reviews ("Inishmore" and "Carnage"). Maybe the directors of these two productions should have exchanged scripts. Wilson Milam who helmed "Carnage" directed "Inishmore" on Broadway where it garnered glowing reviews.
7
Dear Brendan,
Thanks for trying, and I realize you're understaffed, but your theater section is essentially worthless, worse than worthless actually because you consistently review plays too late in their runs for people to go. If you'd like to be a useful theater section, please review plays as real theater reviewers do -- during previews or opening weekends -- when those reviews might be useful to would-be theater goers. When you write a review, as you have above, about a play about to close or which -- absurdly! -- already has, you might just as well headline it, "Haha, I got to see this play and you didn't. Suck it assholes!" which is not, you know, the job of a theater reviewer. Review in a timely fashion or don't review at all. You are hurting the newspaper, and you are hurting the theater scene.
8
@7: Um, this play runs for two more weeks. Cool anonymous comment, though!
9
@7: It is disappointing to find that the play Taphonomy had already closed. However, far from hurting the "theater scene", making sure he calls out good work when he sees it is a good way of letting people know to watch out for the *next* work from this group. That's far from worthless; it's *essential* for the theater scene. I do agree, though, that it would have been nice for Brendan to have posted something on Slog immediately after seeing the play. Maybe he did, and I just missed it.
10
ACT's production of Martin McDonagh's "A Skull in Connemara" several years ago was brilliant. (The director eventually went on to direct another production of it in New York.) Their work on his "Pillowman" a few years later...not so much. And Brendan is right on the money this time around: "Lieutenant" was a big messy disappointment. Watching actors "play drunk" can be painful, and the usually reliable MJ Sieber was embarrassing. The violence and gore were far too jokey. I've never seen another production of "Lieutenant of Inishmore," but from a friend's detailed description of the New York production, yeah, it sounds like ACT really muted everything, not just the gun-shots.
11
Blanks are potentially fatal up to 20 feet. In a production with this much gunfire it was wise not to use them. I agree that the show didn't delve into it's darkside as it should have. Elise Hunt was meh and totally miscast.
12
@ 7. Sorry about the tardy Taphonomy review. I wasn't planning to see it (so much to see!), but kept hearing about it and thought it'd be better to see and let people know what happened (and possibly get excited by this new company) than not see it at all. Less than ideal, I know. But I do what I can.

And criticism isn't always prescriptive. It's also archival. That's why we keep reading Parker and Tynan and the rest (or least why I do).
13
You are right on the money Brendan.

It truly felt like they were trying to keep everyone happy; give the young folks cursing and violence, but not too much so the old folks don't get offended.

As it turns out they didn't make anyone happy. I, a younger person, didn't like it, and neither did many of the older patrons. I heard couple after couple complaining as they were leaving that this was "the worst show they had ever seen at ACT." That the whole show was just "dead cat humor."

It just goes to show you that you can't please all the people all the time. And you should never try.
14
Hmmm....I've tickets to ACT tonight, so we'll see. Their production of Albee's "The Goat" (a few years ago) is still one of the best things I've seen on a local stage, but apparently subscribers flipped out. I also thought ACT's "Pillowman" was decent, but again, the seniors were unhappy. Theatre subscribers are literally dying off. But sounds like this "trying to please everyone" results only in mediocre mush. I haven't seen a show here in 2 years, because the line-up has been so uninspired. I've been anticipating the McDonagh for a year now.
15
This was eerily similar to my experience with God of Carnage. After several negative, scathing remarks about the show, I paid a cheap price to see the show and actually liked it for what it was, but could see why it angered thespians: It's an exhibition of vast mainstage theatre resources on a throwaway comedy.

And you were right about how soulfully great Elise Hunt was as Mairead. But I thought Jeffrey Fracé's Padraig was a finely seething, troubled ball of vengeful rage. Yeah, the others were cartoon characters in line with Kurt Beattie's chosen tone of a light, cartoonish black comedy, but put this Padraig in a more serious production of Inishmore and he'd fit right in with that motif.

I liked it, but I also paid far less than the original $50 ticket price to see it. I'd have been pissed to pay $50 for this, and amidst some entertained theatregoers at the Falls Theatre, I saw some sour faces. Brendan's not the only one who's getting tired of disposable mainstage Seattle theatre.