Monday, January 25, 2010

The Myopia, an epic burlesque of tragic proportions

"The Myopia, an epic burlesque of tragic proportions" Atlantic Theatre Stage 2, January 19, 2010

What is the dividing line between self-indulgence and masturbation?

David Greenspan's two-act monologue walks that line with occasional steps in either direction, weaving an existential web around a tale of his father's attempt to write a show based on the life of Warren Harding, tying in an allegory of his mother as a giant Rapunzel.  His approach is reminiscent of Wallace Shawn, but doesn't approach the detailed imagery found in Mr. Shawn's work.  Mr. Greenspan doesn't seem to dig quite that deeply.  He is never less than theatrical.

His wordplay is intricate, best displayed in the opening sequence in which he discusses the difference between images on a stage and thinking of images on a stage.  The latter may represent the former, but isn't actually the same. One can quickly draw that kind of comparison to his own writing.  He recites these intermixed stories, playing all of the roles on the stage of a theatre, but does that make it an evening of theatre?  When we listen to radio, the only pictures are in our heads.  The same is here since he only paints the images in third-person with his words, gestures and postures.  No real "happening" happens. 

Director Brian Mertes adds to the apparent indulgence of the evening by keeping Mr. Greenspan seated for the entire performance, moving no more than his arms or body position in the chair.  While this does allow a pinpoint focus on the performer, this static approach often lulls, particularly during the first act when combined with the din of Mr. Greenspan's pitched tenor voice.  It's a lot to ask of an audience.  Things do pick up in the second act as Carol Channing makes an appearance in the story to translate part of the tale.  Maybe an earlier entrance for her would perk up the first act.

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