Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday theatre: Awake and Sing


While I did want to see a play, I didn't want to put it in the effort to go.  This was the same day I went to Pastiche, so I was just really feeling like it was too much work.  I wouldn't be doing a thing, just watching, but driving that far and being surrounded by strangers for two hours is actually quite stimulating for me.

I came really close to not going...

But I bit the bullet and bought my ticket ahead of time, so I was forced to go since I could not get a refund.

I was wearing the same outfit I wore to Pastiche since the play was right afterwards.


The service at the restaurant I went to, Pastiche, was quite slow, so I ended up leaving later than I wanted to.  Sure, the theatre was only ten minutes away, but I like to be early for things like this so that I can prepare myself, take my time, not be rushed.  I greatly need extra time to gather my courage or else my stress levels go way up and intrude on my ability to enjoy myself.  Thankfully, I managed to get to the theatre about fifteen minutes early, so it was okay.

The Rogue Theatre, located near the University of Arizona.  I've actually been here several times before, so I have good memories of this place.  I had not been here in a couple years, though.  I picked up my ticket outside, entered the theatre, and took my seat in the middle of the first row that was not reserved.  This was opening night, so there were quite a few people there already.  I was actually one of the youngest people there this time.  I saw may be two or three others that looked to be my age or younger.  Everyone else appeared middle-aged or elderly.

The first thing I looked at was the stage.  It looked like the living room and dining area of a house, though there was also a bed set up to the side.  My guess just from looking at the set was that the characters would be part of a family.  The brick wall outside the window suggested that they were in a poorer area of town or something, probably because they were poor.  I couldn't gather much else beyond that.

As we waited, a man whose name was listed as Jake Sorgen in the program provided live music to the side of the stage.  The instrument sounded like a saxophone, but it did not look like a saxophone, so I was not sure.  I don't know a thing about music, so I looked it up later.  It was indeed a saxophone, but a certain type of saxophone called a soprano saxophone, the main difference from other saxophones being that it was not curved but straight.

He was quite good!

The play I was seeing was called Awake and Sing, and I knew absolutely nothing about it before that night.  I didn't even look up its stories or reviews, just hoped that I would be entertained.  As I waited for the play to begin, I looked through the program to get an idea of what the play would be about.  The director's notes said that it was about family, a Jewish family trying to achieve their middle-class goals despite their working-class environment. be honest, that did not spark my interest, but hey, maybe I would be surprised.

At last, the play began.  In that first scene where most of the characters were sitting at their dining room table eating and talking, I could tell that all of these actors were quite talented.  There were two that stood out above the others, though.

The first was David Greenwood who played the role of the grandfather of the family, Jacob.  I actually know Greenwood personally and have interacted with him on several occasions.  I also saw him in at least one other play, The Decameron which was also performed at The Rogue Theatre.  He played his character quite well, and I enjoyed watching him deliver some of his more impassioned lines.

The second was Cynthia Meier who played the mother of the family, Bessie.  I actually think Meier was my favorite actor.  She was very funny, provoking, and actually really believable.  Her accent sounded pretty natural to me, like it was her real accent.

The other actors were also quite good.  I enjoyed Terry Erbe's Pittmanesque portrayal of Uncle Morty, and Matt Bowdren's portrayal of Ralph Berger was wonderfully Guyllish.

But...I was bored most of the time.

Yes, there were some funny and some intense scenes that sparked my interest, but otherwise, I was just waiting for the play to end.  The story was not compelling to me, and I found that I did not really care much for the characters.  A lot of the time, I was confused as to what was really going on.  At intermission, I remembered thinking that I didn't really know what the plot or conflict was, and I didn't actually care to know what happened next.  I of course stayed, but the second part was not anymore interesting, unfortunately.

I just kept hoping that the end would come soon.

It finally did, and the ending was very strange to me, almost annoying.  Yes, I think I got the overall story, but it was boring.  If I tried to tell the story to someone else, I feel like I would get bored just telling it, even if I tried to shorten it.

I stayed afterwards for the discussion with the cast and director just to see what others thought or if I could get a better idea of what the play was about.  I would say about a quarter of the people remained, and of course, they all loved it.  Why else would they stay for the discussion?  Most of them probably didn't have a review to write like I did.  Many described the play as "moving."  I myself did not feel anything in particular at the end, but I am only one person with one opinion.  So, it's apparent that people do like this play.  Perhaps it was just a bit over my head, or perhaps I am too young to fully appreciate it.

I had a very clumsy moment after the discussion ended.  I stood to take a picture of the cast sitting in their chairs on the stage, but I forgot that my phone was in my lap, and it fell through the gap in the bleachers.  Ooh...boy, that was annoying because I knew that I would have to ask someone to help me get it, and I really didn't want to interact with anyone.

Luckily, David Greenwood noticed that I had dropped something, so he saved me from having to initiate the request and asked if I needed assistance.  He did not seem to recognize me.  Yes, I did know him personally, but we weren't friends or anything.  He was friends with someone I knew, not me.  It had also been a couple years since I had seen him.  So, I was not offended, and in some way, I was actually relieved because I didn't have to have a conversation with him.

Or, maybe he did recognize me, but since I did not act as if I knew him, perhaps he was not quite sure and chose to not risk looking foolish by asking.

I kind of think Greenwood is an introvert, too.  I'm not positive, though, but that's the vibe I've always gotten from him.

Someone retrieved my phone from beneath the bleachers.  I was really embarrassed, but grateful.  I hurriedly left after that, feeling humiliated that I had done something so stupid.

Anyway, while it wasn't a horrible experience, I can't say that I liked the play.  The set was nice, the music was nice, and the actors were great, but the story was so boring and so long that I don't think I could ever see it again, not even if someone else bought my ticket for me.  I give it two stars because the acting talent was wonderful, but that's probably its only redeeming quality, at least in my eyes.  Again, it could just be that I'm not old enough or maybe sophisticated enough to understand it, but my boredom was real even though I was definitely trying to get into it.

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