Here I am, in the flesh. Well, you know what I mean, and it’s time for some more B.S., which, are my initials, too, not just what I’m full of.
I’ve been around and about, licking the wounds of failure, as many of you already know–I was rejected once again by yet another publisher, but I’ll get more into that another time. While I’ve taken a few days off from blogging, I’ve been keeping busy with lots of things going on in my head and lots of things going on in real life like my normal day to day, wondering when and if the Lou crew in whatever form will ever reappear, we’ve been to a wedding and we’ve been to a play and that’s what I’m focusing on today because nothing gets my blood pumping like a critique of a Broadway show.
On Saturday afternoon, we saw the New York Theater Workshop production of Lillian Hellman’s “The Little Foxes“. Right off the bat, I’ll tell you, I gave it an 8, as did Ariel, and on the way to find some dinner afterwards, Ariel and I picked it apart and surprisingly, we maintained our scores.
The main thing I had to wrap myself around was the dichotomy between original dialogue, set in the turn of the 20th century and the current day sets and costumes–think Wall Street business attire. I have to admit, even though it was written with a certain sensibility, the flagrant volleying of the “N” word had me a little uncomfortable, realizing there were people “of color” in the audience, and I thank the constant reminders of political correctness for that, (not that I go around using that word) and I cringed each time it was used, wondering what was going through the heads of those audience members. The minimalist set was a plush purple carpeted floor and staircase leading nowhere behind a partition, and 3 walls (the ceiling was white, not carpeted). From the ceiling hung 4 electric light fixtures and off on stage right was a small organ or other keyboard type instrument. This was director Ivo van Hove reimagined production of the savagely brutal story of greed and the self induced destruction of the Hubbard Family.
But the cast, every one of them, gave their all for that 2 hour, intermissionless performance to the point where Elizabeth Marvel, who played Regina Giddens tasted the blood from a cut on her knee, a result from having been violently knocked to the floor. The production was rather violent and aggressively manic, a curious difference from the causticly understated and brilliantly effective “less is more” performance I’m accustomed to seeing from Bette Davis in the 1941 film version. Marvel continued her scene in spite of the cryptic indications from fellow cast members about the wound on her knee and when she finally realized it and before she was quickly handed a tissue, she swiped at it and licked it from her finger. I doubt it was part of the script, but it was a rather fitting move as at this point in the show; Regina’s claws were unretractable as she badgered her sickly husband to team up with her scheming brothers in the name of unrivaled wealth.
Not only did the modern costuming and electric lighting feel incongruos, it also seemed disjointed how Cal, the butler/houseman still spoke in that stereotypical “black” jargon of that period amid the modern setting, or how a horse drawn carriage was used to transport the visiting investor to the train, or how Alexandra, who left her just widowed and money hungry mother via airplane, as evidenced by the video monitor which was used to describe off stage activities.
But then as we found things to pick apart, we decided this juxtaposition of two eras was indicative of the timelessness of the story. So, kudos to the production, to the cast and to Elizabeth Marvel for delivering the one line we were both anticipating, “I hope you die, I hope you die soon. I’ll be waiting for you to die,” in a manner that fit how she played the part. She meant it.
Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vine: for our vines have tender grapes. ~ Song of Solomon 2:15