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18.10.10

House of Blue Leaves

by John Guare

This is coming back to Broadway? I wonder why. I mean, it's a funny play and I enjoyed reading it but I can't imagine what will be new about it - or so relevant to today - that it has to be produced NOW. I guess we'll find out... Ben Stiller is set to star. Click title above for article.

Reading Guare's introduction to the play was almost more entertaining than the piece itself. He says that growing up a 14-minute train ride from New York felt just as far away as if you lived in another state. All he wanted to do was get there. Get to New York. He asks:
Why do my dreams, which should be the best part of me, why do my dreams, my wants, constantly humiliate me?
This idea of humiliation, or rather - the avoidance of it, becomes the focus of the play. Each character's best qualities seem to be their downfall.

Artie, the main character, writes songs, and claims to be "too old to be a young talent." He hasn't been discovered and is living miserably with his wife Bananas who has gone, you guessed it - bananas. He is awfully cruel to her and tells her of a dream he had where their son was the Pope and only loved Artie.
What a dream... it's awful to have to wake up. For my dreams, I need a passport and shots. I travel the whole world. 
His dreams are his strength and his weakness. He wants desperately for his songs to be in the movies but he can't seem to make it happen. As it turns out, the actual Pope is coming to New York and has caused quite a stir. Artie's lover, Bunny, wants Artie to brings his songs to the Pope to be blessed. My favorite part of the show was when Artie's wife asks him to play one of his songs and then she shows him that it has the exact same melody as "White Christmas." Revenge is sweet.

Many ridiculous things occur - three nuns chase the Pope around as if he were a Beatle, Bananas tries to scald Bunny with hot water, Artie's son Ronnie blows up part of the apartment building, Bananas swallows some hearing aids.. Artie's friend Billy, a big movie director comes to the apartment and Bunny is overjoyed! She senses the sweet smell of success and in a moment of passion, proclaims to Artie:
All my life I been treated like an old shoe. You turned me into a glass slipper.
That's love, I guess :) ... though it doesn't take long for her to leave him for Billy and fly off to California. Before he goes, Billy tells his friend:
Do you know what the greatest talent in the world is? To be an audience. Anybody can create. But to be an audience ... be an audience ...
I don't really agree. Anybody could create, but not everyone has the courage to. Or the desire. Likewise, anyone could be an audience. To be a good audience, that is, a real listener - someone who can listen selflessly and respond from the heart.. that does indeed take talent.

Tomorrow's Play: How I Learned to Drive by Paula Vogel

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