Friday, June 06, 2008

After The Prime

I went to see a piece of theatre called November. It features a chummy, clutzy President, Nathan Lane, trying to get re-elected. The plot had to do with pardoning turkeys at Thanksgiving and a lesbian speech-writer who wouldn't give the President the incredible speech she wrote unless he allowed her to marry her girlfriend.

This play was supposed to be a comedy. With this kind of humor: a frustrated Nathan Lane goes to open a bottle of beer, but he can't do it. He puts it between his legs and tries to twist the top off. The geriatric audience (why?) is laughing. This is so funny that he can't open a bottle of beer, and the climax? He hands the beer to the lesbian who opens it immediately. Are you rolling on the floor yet?

The play had nothing to say, so of course it swore a lot. This is playing on BROADWAY. And it was written by DAVID MAMET who is, by all accounts, a great playwright.

I was talking to friends and they're like--yeah, well, everybody has their time. You know, after a while do great artists just run out of things to say? The great lyricist Howard Ashman (Little Mermaid, Little Shop of Horrors) died of AIDS in his prime. Would he, had he lived, eventually written something as dull and dry and unfunny as Mamet has? Come to think of it, what recent work relevance has "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf's" Edward Albee written?

What in the world has become of Stephen Sondheim?

5 comments:

Lucky Pierre said...

I had never found Nathan Lane all that amusing, and after a particularly horrendous run in with him, I now just find him kind of creepy. He was totally wasted one night at a gay bar around Hells Kitchen (name forgotten, but if I heard it I'd know). Anyway, he demanded attention from some of the hotter young guys. When they ignored him, he freaked out and started screaming that he was "NATHAN LANE!" and they were "NOBODY!" Ick.

Anastasia Beaverhausen said...

Did he get a standing ovation? Everything I go to see in New York - plays, musicals, concerts - gets a standing ovation, no matter how awful or just plain indifferent they are.

Anonymous said...

Ok,, Nathan Lane seems only funny in "high camp drag" to me at best and I don't think he is acting,, ( dish) As far as David Mamet,, he has way to much under his belt to write something that sounds degrading to gay men.. but then again, he is known for his "exploration of masculinity" according to the wikipedia.. ,,hmm .. sounds like it backfired on him,, Karma!

stephen in az.

Michael said...

Did you catch The Tonys last night? Interesting to hear Sondheim's acceptance speech for the Lifetime Achievement Award (as read by Mandy Patinkin). He spoke of the pressure of living up to expectations, and how winning a lifetime achievement award does nothing to lessen that. It was fascinating to hear that a musical theater genius has the same fears as the rest of us, and, if anything, magnified by his status. Awesome that he admitted it in such a setting.

Jesse said...

Michael--thanks--Awesome Stephen Sondheim had the courage and humility to say that. (I didn't see it, sadly--was at a Tony's party but left because nobody let me sing along!)

Anastasia, No--Nathan Lane didn't get a standing ovation. Unless you count us standing up to leave.