Monday, August 2, 2010

You'd think I'd love a play about hanging yourself to get an erection. Hm.

I feel like I should begin by saying that I love my wife. I love my wife, she's a great actress, and she's not the problem here.

I spent my Saturday night watching the worst play I've ever seen in my entire life. Ever, ever, bar none.

My wife is the type of person who acts. This is fine. I mean, without actors, movies would be, you know, boring and stuff. And I mean, who'd be on TV? I guess there'd still be sports and stuff, but I need my Two Point Five Men (I believe that is the name of the show.) My wife is a pretty good actor. I feel like the more I say it, the less true it sounds, but she really is great.

My wife is so good at acting, she was just in two plays at once. Both at the same theatre, and with the same director. Good for her, right? She likes acting, and she gets to act. A lot. She also doesn't have to see her husband, which is a nice little side effect. It was nice for me, too. Not having my wife around really gave me a lot of time to sit down at the computer and get writing, you know? Just be really fucking prolific. Wait, what? I've only written two things in the past couple months? What the fuck have I been doing then? Oh, right. Work and Twitter. Well, you know, those 140 characters add up.

Anyhow, back to the play. Waiting for Godot. For weeks and weeks, my wife would come home from rehearsal and shout something along the lines of “I HATE MY DIRECTOR AND THE OTHER ACTORS ARE TERRIBLE AND THIS PLAY IS FUCKING AAAAGRHARHARHRHGH.” Pretty much every night. She would eventually regain her composure and ask me when I was planning on coming to see the play. The answer is never.

Some fun facts about this particular production of Waiting for Godot.

--- Waiting for Godot was written for a cast of five men. Apparently Samuel Beckett so loathed the idea of women being cast in this play that he attempted to make it illegal to do so. Since my wife is a woman, it can be safely assumed that he failed in this particular legal endeavor. This did not, however, stop the Beckett Estate from contacting the director and trying to put a stop to the production. Didn't work. Too bad. According to my wife, there was one night where only two people showed up. Apparently the director and Vladimir (using character names because I don't know anybody's real name) decided that somehow the Beckett people went around and started a whisper campaign against this particular production, scaring crowds away. Or, it got no publicity and sucked. Either way.

--- The young lady who played Pozzo is a vegetarian. There's a pretty important part in Act One where Pozzo eats some chicken and Estragon eats the bones. After days of jerking the cast around, deciding whether or not she could even do the play at all, Pozzo finally found out that she'd have to eat chicken. She flipped out and almost quit the play. Now, I was a vegetarian for eight years. I totally get where she's coming from. She doesn't want to even handle the meat or the bones or whatever. I'm back to eating meat, but I still don't like handling meat or bones or whatever. I'm not going to crucify her for having convictions. She's still an idiot for not reading the play before auditioning. Or, you know, being familiar with a famous play. More on Pozzo later.

--- I have a feeling nobody went to the show because of the flier. The image they use is atrocious:

It looks like an ad for the discount Pink Floyd laser light show over at the Hollywood Laserium Cybertheater. The other major problem I have with the flier is the horrible selection of quotes. “The greatest play of the 20th Century ignites the 21th!!!” and “A mind-expanding experience!” Sorry guys, but Inception was easily the most mind-expanding experience of the Twenty-Oneth Century.

I really, really didn't want to go see this play. At least my wife knew it. My only hope was to work every Friday and Saturday night for five straight weeks, that way I'd have an excuse. Things were cruising along nicely until Saturday night. I had the night off, and it was closing night for the play. I couldn't not go. My wife gave me directions from work to the theatre, and even pre-bought me a ticket. No escape.

By the time I got to the theatre, I was exhausted. Waking up at 6am, working nearly nine hours at the Dream Factory, never, ever sleeping – all of these things add up to a very tired Josh Grimmer. By the time I made it into the theatre, found my seat and began to wait for the play to start, I had fallen asleep. My hope was I'd be the only person to show up, and they'd cancel. Sadly not the case. I was startled awake by the director, Ross, making the pre-show announcement. He comes out, tells everyone they're there to see Waiting for Godot. Good start. Then he tells everyone where the bathroom is. It's behind the stage, and to the left. More on the bathroom – and Pozzo – later. Instead of telling everyone to hold their pee until intermission, he said “If you need to go during the show, that means you'll have to walk through the stage! Maybe our actors will interact with you! The magic of theatre in Los Angeles!” This, apparently, was not what he was told to say. Luckily nobody got up during the show to pee. He had to be reminded from backstage to tell everyone to turn off their phones. It was like a visit from Arclight Petey, but somehow even less funny.

---Act One---

Lights off, curtain drawn, all of that. Lights up, and holy shit Vladimir is loud and bad at acting. He's shouting, mugging, prancing and gallivanting about. At one point he leans forward, into the first row and shouts in the face of the people right in front. Like, three inches away, if that. A few minutes later, they walked out. Then Pozzo and Lucky make their grand appearance. The most tragic kind of overacting is when the actor decides to go over the top in an attempt to disguise the fact that they don't quite understand the material. Pozzo was very, very guilty of this. Oh, and she was dressed like a Droog. That still wasn't the worst thing about her. I was sitting in the sixth of eight rows. I was tired and weary and glassy-eyed. I could still clearly see her nipple piercings beneath her shirt.

Now, I'm not the mayor of Squaresville, Daddyo. I like a good nipple piercing. (Nothing bigger than a B, by the way. Looks kinda weird.) I like tattoos, weird hair, crazy make-up, whatever. If you alter your body in a way that makes you more interesting to look at, then I'm game. However, I assure you that your character doesn't call for pierced nipples. I'm not saying you should take them out, just, you know, wear a bra.

Side note: One of the problems with Ross telling the audience that the play might take a turn for the interactive if someone went to the potty was it gave me a nigh-irresistible urge to heckle. I didn't, but boy did I want to. “We could hang ourselves!” “PLEASE DO.”

In addition to Vladimir screaming at the people in the front, Lucky has a giant screaming monologue that he delivered to the last person in the front row. It was awful. Just awful. Nobody else walked out, but it was really fucking uncomfortable. Apparently Vladimir and Lucky were asked by the other actors to step back a few feet for their screaming, but they refused. THIS IS THEATRE, MAN. THEY JUST HAVE TO FUCKING DEAL WITH IT. Yeah, except they paid you money.


Lights off, lights on, intermission. I made a bee-line for the bathroom. As I got there, Pozzo was leaving. She had the same look on her face that you get when you hit a seagull with your car. She had shit this bathroom up like nobody's business. After I had done my business, I made it a point to leave the seat up so that it was perfectly clear that I wasn't the source of that horrifying stink. Back to my seat. Back to sleep.

---Act Two---

I woke up about five minutes into Act Two, when Vladimir started screaming again. No rest for the patron of the arts, I guess. The thing that bothered me the most about this particular performance was the remaining audience member in the front row. He was laughing and guffawing with with an intensity normally reserved for Gallagher shows. He was loving this shit and snapping pictures with great joy. I spent much of Act Two drifting in and out of sleep, checking text messages (bad patron!), and sighing loudly. I have no idea how women fake orgasms – I can barely fake watching a play. As Pozzo and Lucky roll around blindly on the floor, Vladimir screams and Estragon makes snide remarks, I could do little to keep myself from screaming and running out.

Finally, the play ended. Turns out, the guy who loved the play was a repeat customer. He spent a lot of time talking to Pozzo after the show, looking at her nipples. To be fair, I'd do the same if given the chance. The people who walked out during Act One, right after Vladimir shouted in their faces? Personal friends of Vladimir, who came at his behest. My wife thanked everybody for a singularly awful experience, and we left. On the way home we talked about how bad the play was, how much she hated Pozzo's stench, how Vladimir spits when he talks, and how much of his spit landed on my wife's face. She was given a check in the amount of fifty dollars for her efforts. Whoooo.


I really do love my wife. I think she's just fantastic, at pretty much anything. Maybe not dancing. Okay, she's a terrible dancer. But she is – she really is – a great actress, and I'm willing to support her in any way I can. Unless it involves going hours out of my way to see a play that we both know is going to be awful. I don't know how many more plays I can take. I really do try to care, I just have such a hard time. When she did A Company of Wayward Saints, I saw that probably five or six times. It was a great play, she was great in it and – most importantly – it was six blocks away from our apartment. I just honestly can't remember the last time I went to one of my wife's plays and had a really good time. I want to be a good husband, I just don't think I have the energy to see another shitty play where some guy screams about his prostate.

At least it was revealed afterward that I had been snuck in, and my wife didn't have to give Ross eight dollars. Gotta feel good about that.


@stellar225 said...

This is my third and final try to comment on this post.

Flier: awful.

Experience: awful.

Supporting your wife: awesome.

Auntie Z said...

Tis is the best thing I have read this week. And I teach LITERATURE.

Tina Rowley said...

Why can't more people be quietly bad at acting?

There's nothing more strenuously bad than a bad play. I know the shit is hitting the fan when my head begins to shake involuntarily, a la, NO NO NO NO, THIS IS NOT HAPPENING. NO, NO, NO, MM-MM. MM-MM. Shake, shake, shake.

I had an acting teacher once, this cool Russian guy, who used to say that seeing a bad play can make you physically sick. I think that's why my head shakes! DON'T. GIVE. ME. CANCER. YOU. FUCKERS.

The only thing worse than seeing a bad play is being in a bad play. Aurora, I feel your pain, woman. I have been in some shiny hot clunkers, and it's brutal. Endless death march feelings. And those are always the ones where you're lucky to get fifty stupid dollars.

So, yes to Lin: supporting your wife is definitely awesome. Suck it up, though, babe, because she's got it 5000 times worse.

P.S. "The greatest play of the 20th Century ignites the 21st." That's just beautiful. God love 'em. I love thinking of the person who wrote the copy for that one. I'd like to see the drafts.

Tina Rowley said...

Oh, by the way, I thank me, too! Thanks, me!

Josh Grimmer said...

Lin: She's a great wife. Worth it. (Sorta)

Zina: As soon as I learn to read, I'll take your class. I swear.

Tina: It's not the 21st century. It's the 21th. TWENTY ONETH! Awesome.

Thanks for reading, everyone!

Jeremy said...

I believe it is pronounced "Twenty FIRTH Century", after Colin Firth and his amazing work in the yet to be completed Bridget Jones Trilogy. The flier is what I imagine is the cover of Pink Floyd's next concept album, based on The Care Bears.