Today’s post will be written in two parts. So check back late tonight for my thoughts on dark play or stories for boys.
Also, THIS is now where you go for the list of every Humana play ever in order.
We just saw The Unseen, which I really liked. Y’know, I think this is the best year since 2003 (Omnium/Faculty Room). It’s definitely better than the last two. I can already say that, and we’ve got one play (rumored to be the best of the fest) to go today, and Batch later on. Sweet. I’m having fun.
Okay. The Unseen by Craig Wright. Despite all the BS I heard about from the talk-back, I really enjoyed it. It remains to be seen if it sticks with me, but I believe it will. It’s gotta be Wright’s best play. It had a very strong sense of itself, a palpable world. The actors were great and the characters well-drawn. I’m not sure if it was meant to be an allegory, but it definitely had leanings in that direction.
I was really drawn in by Wallace. Great actor, and I really liked trying to figure out what he was doing. The reveal of his nature was good and I loved it when it turned out to be true. It was probably a bit of a stretch, but at least it was unexpected.
The entrance of Smash into the world of the play was bizarre. I felt pretty well grounded, but then Smash entered, scary, and then acted goofy. It was very bizarre at first. Some of the stuff that Smash said, about the ordinary circumstances of his life, first had me thinking allegorically. Odd moments with him. I’m sure I would not have pushed it that way, but I dug what they did with it. Of course, Smash’s violent descriptions at the end really went for the guts, and the play really needed it then.
It was pretty clear where the first 30 pages (which Wright finished first) ended. The rest of the play was unfocused, and not as interesting. The acting suffered a bit too. Anyway …
Here’s the allegory as I was putting it together. Wright didn’t even hint at this in the program notes (and I did like he had to say there), but this is where the play took me. It’s not complete, but it’s something.
Wallace and Valdez are the populace of the USA. The unseen prisoner who dies represents the countries and people who suffer and die (in Africa, East Europe, Asia) for our freedom. Smash’s fooling of Valdez with was like the media lulling half the population away from thinking about the problems of the world just for the fuck of it. Wallace is the other half of the citizenry, the half that either goes crazy trying to figure out the world or gives up in despair. The torture is life in America, the way our rights, our income, and our ambitions a torn apart by those in power. The prison itself is an extension of the droning, suffering, beehive lives most people lead. Smash, supposedly someone with power, is just another unenlightened individual who can’t find his way out of the system. Kind of like they say that enslaved peoples suffer more (duh), but the masters are also trapped by the system.
Granted, it gets pretty weak after the first couple details, but I do think Wright was at least alluding to some of these issues.
So, I liked it. I liked most everything about it. It’s the kind of play I hope to see at Humana. Interesting, reaching for something, and well-acted and such.
Great thing about a laptop, you can write in the car on the way home.
Great thing about this trip home, there are no tornadoes nearby. (We had some last year.)
So … dark play for dark boys or whatever it’s called, by some guy whose name I don’t remember right now.
Did I like it? Yes. For the first hour, it totally had me. I was loving every single moment. The direction was fantastic and the acting was really entertaining. It was perfectly cast. I was relaxing in the knowledge that I was in good hands. Awesome.
Then it kept going. I made the mistake of not checking the sign outside, and hadn’t put myself in a 100 minutes/no intermission mindstate. Mistake. About 75 minutes or so into it, I started to drift a bit. A little after that, they did the CSI thing and the momentum actually slowed down. Then the ending “You’re always full of shit.” Ha ha ha. Kind of a let down, really. Couldn’t they come up with something that would make as much of an impression as the rest of the play? Couldn’t they have pushed the excitement all the way up to the last moment? What she discovers is not the journey. The play was over as soon as Nick got stabbed, maybe even before.
So, a near miss? Almost a massive hit? I wonder why they didn’t take an intermission. Was it conceived that way? They didn’t seem that concerned with preserving momentum. And they didn’t rush towards the end, they took time for the CSI joke when they could have kicked in the overdrive.
Anyway, great play. I see why everyone says it will be produced a lot. Small cast, young characters, funny and fun and modern and hip, lots of simulated felatio. Good times. My second favorite play of the weekend. Only time can tell, but right now I dig Strike-Slip the most.
Hmmm, I guess I was wrong. The Unseen is fading pretty quickly from my consciousness.
Here’s an updated Top Ten list of my favorite Humana plays (not including SITi shows).
2. The Faculty Room
4. Big Love
5. Finer Noble Gases
8. The Ruby Sunrise
10. After Ashley
And it’s official. This was the best year at Humana since 2003, and it was better than 2002 as well. Only 2000 and 2003 have been better, in my humble opinion.
Let’s end with this from Adam Bock.
“Imagine a great big building stuffed full of people all working together to make new plays.”
Oh my God. What an amazing thought. Could anything possibly be better?