Scott Lemieux loves the theater. But he never comes late. That's why the blogger is a tramp.
Couple weeks ago he saw the revival of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross starring Alan Alda, Liev Schrieber, Gordon Clapp, Jeffrey Tambor, Tom Wopat, and some young actor I've never heard of who must be having the time of his life working with all those guys.
Scott gives the show a rave. He thought the movie was one of the best films of the 1990s. But, he says, this production is even better.
You may think that you don't really need to see the play if you've seen the movie, but you do; if you have the opportunity and like, or think you might like, Mamet at his best you have to see it. The rhythm of the dialogue is a very deep pleasure indeed when performed this well, and seeing a live performance is an irreplaceable experience. The greatest potential concern would be comparing this cast to the one assembled for the film, and yet despite the less-famous names it's a wash at worst. To my eye and ear, only Jonathan Pryce's Lingk and Kevin Spacey's Williamson are clearly preferable to their counterparts in this production (played respectively by Tom Lopat and Frederick Weller--the latter's sometimes forced readings and excessive early telegraphing of Williamson's buried toughness and canniness are the only significant flaws in the performance I saw.) If anything, Alan Alda's Levine, Gordon Clapp's Moss, and (especially) Jeffrey Tambor's Aaronson are better than the estimable performances of [Jack] Lemmon, [Ed] Harris, and [Alan] Arkin. And, most surprisingly, Liev Schreiber's Roma holds its own. Pacino's Roma is about as good as acting gets, but Schreiber's is also superb, and is arguably truer to Mamet's conception of the character.
When we moved down here one of the things we looked forward to was that, being only an hour or so from New York City, we'd get into Manhattan a few times a year. Hasn't happened for me yet. The blonde's been twice. Once to chaperon the sixth grade's field trip to the Cloisters and once to see Spamalot. You may ask how is that she got to see Spamalot without her loving husband?
Priced the tickets to a Broadway musical lately?
A friend was going and we flipped a coin to see which of us would get to go with him.
Which means Glengarry Glen Ross ought to be all mine.
She'll find a way to tag along, I just know she will.
We were planning to see Denzel Washington in Julius Caesar but we were scared off by the lukewarm reviews. If Broadway ticket prices were like London's West End's, not much more than the price of movie tickets, a lot more people would risk going to see shows the critics were iffy about. But we aren't going to spend a month's mortgage payment to see a play we've already seen done superbly and with one of the same actors playing the same role and doing with it what he did with it when we saw him. Did you follow that?
The actor was Colm Feore. He played Cassius. We saw him at the Stratford Festival in Canada in 1990, and he stole the show from the actors playing Antony and Brutus. Which, it turns out, is what he's been doing in New York, or so says Terry Teachout.
According to the posters, Denzel Washington is the star of “Julius Caesar,” which opened Sunday at the Belasco Theatre. The fine young ladies in the balcony signified agreement by squealing when he made his entrance in a sharp-looking business suit, this being a modern-dress version of Shakespeare’s classic tale of dirty work in ancient Rome. Don’t let appearances fool you, though: The real star of this mostly horrible show is Colm Feore, who is high-strung and lustrously precise as Cassius. Next to him, Mr. Washington comes off like a well-meaning amateur, standing stiff as a weathervane and gabbling his way through Brutus’ lines.
Terry blames Washington, but it's all Feore's doing, I'm sure. When we saw him do Cassius, Brutus was played by Brian Bedford, a far more accomplished Shakespearean actor than Washington, and Bedford, who we saw another time work magic as Salieri in Amadeus, spent most of Julius Caesar rocked back on his heels, staring in helpless wonder at the show Feore was putting on.
I swear he was as lost in the enjoyment of watching Feore work as we were and there were moments after Feore finished off a speech when Bedford took a beat before beginning his line, as if to say, "Oh, is it my turn again?"
Feore turned Julius Caesar into the Tragedy of Cassius and it was wonderful!
Denzel must be having a similar problem. It is awful hard to concentrate on your part when the actor playing opposite you is on fire. Sometimes you just can't resist the temptation to sit back and watch him go to town.
From 1986 to 1995 the blonde and I made an annual trip up to Stratford. We were usually joined by Nancy Nall and her husband Alan. And during those years Colm Feore was the company's main leading man. We saw him play Iago, Petruchio, Richard III, Hamlet, the Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance, Cyrano, Benedick, Angelo, Iachimo, Mercutio, Athos in The Three Musketeers, and Cassius, and he was never less than brilliant---except as Benedick, but that production of Much Ado was totally misconceived.
It should be noted that in those days he could make young women in the audience squeal and squirm in their seats as well as Denzel.
At least, the two young women on either side of me used to squirm and squeal.
That's Nance and the Blonde in front of the main theater at Stratford in 1995. The gleams in their eyes are her Kate and our 9 year old.
For some reason, in 1990, when we saw Julius Caesar, Alan didn't go with us. It was just the three of us. I'd like to tell you about a menage a trois, but the two of them barely noticed me.
They only had eyes for Colm Feore.
So, imagine their delight when, after the show, as we walking down the wide lawn from the theater to our car we met up with Feore hurrying away from the stage door.
Our paths intersected and without having to chase him down we walked right up to him, natural and casual as can be. He said hello. I said hello. Then I started to tell him how much we had enjoyed the show, how much we had admired his work over the years, how we were looking forward to...
At this point I looked off to my left, wondering why I, who usually could barely get a word in edgewise when I was in the company of Nance and the blonde, was doing all the talking here and I discovered there was no we at the moment.
We weren't there.
We had faded deep into the background.
We two hardbitten newspaperwomen were standing twenty feet away from our idol, giggling and blushing like we were a couple of freshmen girls who'd just met the captain of the high school football team and he'd remembered our names!