This summer I saw Thornton Wilder's Our Town for the first time. Oberlin's Summer Theatre did an excellent job of it and I had a great evening with my good friend, Lizzy. The set was simple (often, the most difficult to create) and it allowed the play to breathe. Last night I saw Will Eno'S MIDDLETOWN at the Vineyard Theatre. Let me prefix by saying this: I love the Vineyard. The people there are fabulous and I had the opportunity to observe a large portion of the preview process for a show last fall that I fell IN LOVE with. So, I have a certain expectation of the Vineyard. It is not to blow me away, but to give space and to believe that your audience is intelligent enough to get it, but your actors are talented enough to play it. And, the Vineyard did not disappoint.
In many ways, like I was warned, MIDDLETOWN was a bit of a 'modernized Our Town'. I had a lot of the same feelings throughout the shows. At no point was I surprised. There were a couple of times when I wondered which route would be chosen, but it was never an actual surprise. However, I was challenged, just a bit. What do I want out of life? Of course, I've thought about this often... especially during the time leading up to graduation and since. I can not remember a time when I didn't think about that... that, or what does life want out of me? It's not the same question.
The script was full of quotable text and I think it's a production worth doing for quite a few reasons.
1. So you have the script. I have intentions of acquiring it for my own bookshelf.
2. It gives room for a discussion during the show process for the people involved (and then later, the people viewing). We're all walking around with these stories, but sometimes we need a motivating reason to tell them. Plan to talk a little bit about the show afterward, you may need some digestion. It's not that we are all afraid to share our stories normally- some are, some aren't, but rather life, like a good essay, flows if one event leads into another.
3. It gives room to accept what is. Paraphrased: The sun doesn't know how hot it is, it just goes around being orange.
4. The 'searching tourists' have a point. It IS kind of fun sitting in the limited seating seats. You see a different show, it's something else and sometimes you just need that.
The things that have potential to be monumental...
5. It's nice seeing all the people you know on stage
5. It reminded me of my senior seminar life view presentation when I declared I want to fight the battle against loneliness. I think that's what all of this is about... the 'It Gets Better Campaign,' Imnotsorry.net, the rally, theatre... all these things that I believe in. I don't want any of us to have to be lonely.
6. It begins the way every show should begin and in many ways, it's a prologue without giving it all away. [This should probably be closer to the top because I loved it!]
In order to not give too much away, I'll let that be. My advice is this: Go see the show. For dates and such, visit the website... There are $20 rush tickets 2 hours before curtain (aka. 6:00pm). Don't go in with giant expectations of being blown away, just remain open and present. Give yourself room.
ps. This was one of the first times I've been excited to see someone I knew from movies on stage... I have only seen Heather Burns play fairly similar characters, but she does the niche incredibly well. And Georgia Engel!! The cast was stacked... in the best kind of way.
pps. I like previews because my brain isn't as harsh on the lighting designer since I know how much change happens between the first preview (this past Wednesday) and opening (November 3rd)