Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Forget Claire Bloom, for a moment, darlings. I am not saying Philip Roth was any great shakes as a human being, but he was one hell of a writer. That is, in his better books.
My relationship with Philip Roth was similar to that of Joyce Carol Oates. Both are, and were, undeniably talented and gifted, but I would not read every single work. Indeed, when I first read "Portnoy's Complaint," at age 14, which is actually the perfect age to read it, I worked my way through him till around "The Breast," then stopped altogether, until "The Plot Against America." Whereupon I discovered "Sabbath's Theater, "Nemesis," about the polio epidemic, and what I consider his masterwork, "American Pastoral."
Anyone with a serious interest in literature should read Philip Roth. These are the works I suggest, Some of you may be fond of others. But if you are over 14, do not re-read 'Portnoy'. It just does not hold up.
Still, it did more for masturbation than Masters And Johnson.
They say the ornery live longer. With his heart problems, I was amazed to discover that Roth had made it to 85, when he passed. Pretty good for one with his health issues.
I cannot say for certain how many will miss Roth, the person.
Readers such as I will miss Roth, the writer.
May both rest in peace.
Just about everyone lamenting the passing of Margot Kidder, ten days before, thought of her, first and foremost, as Lois Lane. I am of the "Superman" TV generation, so, for me, Noel Neill will always be Lois. Besides, I preferred Margot's more florid work, like the demented un-conjoined Siamese twin in 1973's "Sisters," which, girls, you have to see to believe, and then her turn as incestuous mother to Chad Lowe, Jason Mayberry, in the 2005 'SVU' episode, "Pique." Who can forget the scene where the squad finds them in bed, covered in blood, he having made love to, then killed, his mother? And Margot, as this Upper Montclair matriarch!!!!!!!!! Named Grace, no less!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Such was the stuff Kidder was made of, and sadly, but ironically, it might have figured in her decline. She was so skilled at these types of roles because she hovered so near the brink of their actuality, considering how things turn out.
I shall remember Kidder's work fondly. I also hopes she find the peace she never found in life.
Fame is not the answer, dolls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As I have shown, the title page to Tennessee Williams' vastly underrated play, "Summer And Smoke," quotes famously, from Rilke, "Who, if I were to cry out, would hear me among the angelic orders." That is the question asked by Alma Winemiller throughout, and I am not certain she finds the answer. But more on that later.
During the titular moment in "The Slap," back in 2015. when Harry and Gary confront each other, and Sandy, in that dazzling split black and white dress, steps in to apologize, and Gary hurls back, "How many times does he hit you, Sandy?," the way Marin Ireland clutched herself, stepped back, and revealed by expression that she did not know that everyone else had the number on her marriage, was so powerfully unspoken by Marin Ireland, in the role, that I knew, then, this was an actress to keep an eye on.
My prediction has come true. Get down to CSC before this week ends, and see Marin Ireland as Miss Alma. She is to be reckoned among such Almas as Geraldine Page and Blythe Danner, and, good as Amanda Plummer was at Paper Mill, Main Ireland's impassioned interpretation and exploration is so detailed she makes you feel Alma's pain. My heart and soul (which "Alma" is Spanish for) just went out to her.
Not since Celia Keenan-Bolger stunned as Laura in 2013's "The Glass Menagerie" have I seen a portrayal like this. Staged within a suggestively confined box--a coffin-- the actors move about empty space freely, often so close to the audience, that if an audience member were to move, they might tumble into their laps. So focused does Marin move about as Alma, one would not dare disturb her, but, if such were to happen, I am sure she would not break character.
Hers is the best acting performance I have seen in the last five years. Do not miss it.
But Marin can't do it all on her own. She needs that good Williams' dialogue, and supporting players to tell Alma's story. And she gets it--from Nathan Darrow, as Dr; John Buchanan, Jr., Alma's psychological counterpart, Hannah Elless (excellent last year in Transport's "Come Back, Little Sheba," where she played Marie, and "Picnic," where she played Millie Evans) as Nellie Ewell, whose mother's reputation foreshadows Alma's, and Barbara Walsh as Alma's mentally challenged (but not totally unaware) mother. These are the standouts, but the rest, especially Ryan Spahn, as Archie Kramer, in that final scene, enable Marin to tell us Alma's story.
With a town like Glorious Hill, Mississippi, what could go wrong? Well, when one is trapped in a familial, non-sexual prison with no kind of fulfillment, such as Alma, is it any wonder most see her as a "white blooded spinster." When someone is told something so much, they often become that, when they are not, and Ireland's physical movements, gestures, even turning away from the audience, leaning over a chair, reveals all of Alma to the audience. Like a painting, which serves (the anatomy chart) as a metaphor, all her shades have been filled in.
I personally know something about Alma's famous "telephone number of God." I take something similar myself. For anxiety.
And when, at the end, she hurls that line--"The tables have turned, with a vengeance!," all the pent-up rage, self-hatred and doubt is finally released from Alma in a blaze of verbal colors by Miss Ireland. But it is too late; Alma has become what John once was, and he what she once had been. Which is the tragedy of the play. Neither will find fulfillment in their lives, but Alma, in choosing non-conformity is hovering over a dangerous precipice.
Marin Ireland as Alma made me think of a William Inge character, Deanie Loomis, played by Natalie Wood, in "Splendor In The Grass." She faced a similar struggle, as Alma. But
that story takes place roughly fifteen years after 'Summer,' ending on a more hopeful note, with Deanie getting the help she needs, finding her place in society. As Marin Ireland marches offstage at the end of "Summer And Smoke," the look on this beaten woman suggests she knows what she is in for, that she is marching to her own execution, her own self-destruction, eventually arriving at that same emotional cross road as Blanche Du Bois.
Speaking of Blanche, wouldn't Marin Ireland be wonderful in the role? Or even as Miss Lucretia Collins in "Portrait Of A Madonna?"
Before this production, I thought Moon Lake Casino a magical, romantic place.
As this production, thanks to Miss Ireland, makes clear, it is only the first of the many circles of Hell!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That Dawn Powell certainly knew how to write roman a clefs about her crowd, girls. If I was more versed on my late Forties Manhattan history, I might be enable to identify the reality behind the characters she writes about. Perhaps a more enlightened reader out there can do that; be my guest!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What a set of characters. Frederick Olliver and Lyle Gaynor--Lyle is a woman, girls--who are some Kaufman and Ferber play writing team, who just cannot keep it together, either personally or professionally. For those who remember Shelley Duvall, as L.A. Joan, in Robert Altman's "Nashville," her stand in here is Dorothy Brennan, aka Dodo, whose behavior is what her name suggests--a wannabe filberty gibbet from Baltimore, who wants to be discovered by the right people, at all the right parties, by doing as little actual work as possible. Sort of like so many of us when we were young, who learn early, once hitting this town, what Dodo, even at novel's end, fails to learn. Nevertheless, her machinations and presence make her the most fascinating character in this novel. Equally odd is her mother, who views her relationship with her daughter, as one more between sisters, than parent and child. This is by way of falsely keeping her youth, thinking she is fooling everyone, when she is not. I guess Dawn Powell, in creating them, had to reign them in--otherwise they would over power this novel.
Basically a sketch of assorted wannabes losers--they are the locusts-- the novel offers cultural organizations and bars as gatherings and places of hope for people on this artistic periphery, making it clear that, no matter how high an opinion they may have of themselves, they may never get any farther than they are now.
I am sure Powell included herself among these, as her life and legacy bear out. Never popular in her day, except among this crowd, her novels are being re-discovered by such as I, and are claiming for themselves a legacy widely deserved, but hitherto unrecognized.
Would Powell were here to see the enjoyment reading her books engenders in many readers. This was my fourth one, and I look forward to my fifth.
Keep at it, Dawn. No one skewers the city scene, circa 1940's like you.
You were the Tama Janowitz of the day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Saturday, May 19, 2018
I actually used to own this disc, darlings. It was give to me, back in the day, when I must have been seven or eight, by my paternal grandmother, who knew the score better than most around her. If only I still had it, now!
This past week, Baby Gojira has been dancing up a storm! I think he has been trying to cheer me up--he is so sweet!!!!!!--so, now I want to give him something in return, to him and all my readers, to cheer all up!
As anyone who knows me well, understands, one cannot keep me out of a book store. And if I emerge from one, empty handed, as I have on occasion, I feel depressed.
Well, for those who keep up with me, I have been trying to track down "The Northanger Horrid Novels." I know the folks at "Three Lives" would get it, but I have not been in that neighborhood, recently. Near David's doctor is a "Shakespeare And Co." store, which is supposed to cater to the students of Hunter College. Well, I went in there, and posed the search question about these novels, and the clerk there never heard of them, I am not sure he got the Jane Austen connection, and the search was so cursory, nothing resulted. Shame on you, once! That's enough, for me!
After our excursion at The Met, we visited The Corner Bookstore, the most charming little place, at 1313 Madison Ave, by East 93rd. I am telling you, it is so warm and cozy, a film version of "She Loves Me" could be shot in there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The staff is engaging, and very nice looking, with one of them resembling a young Stanley Tucci. He was busy with a window display, so this charming young girl not only took the time to look up the novels I was seeking, which I ordered, she was able to find a book recently having come out, that I mistakenly referred to as "The Gunnysacks, or "The Gunnywacks," but which turned out to be "The Gunners" by Rebecca Kaufman, author of "Another Place You've Never Been," which I also plan to read.
I am here to tell you, darlings, that this is the "Three Lives" of the Upper East Side. So, when in that nabe, forsake all others, and GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Maybe these folk should initiate a training program at "The Strand!!!!!!!!!!!"
We finally made our way to The Met, and, if you thought the fashion houses were something, wait till you get a load of this!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let me first say, it was so strange to be in the Medieval Hall without the Christmas tree being there; I almost felt as though I were in the wrong place or time.
But, once we made it downstairs to the Anna Wintour Costume Center--and make no mistake, it IS ANNA's, darlings, and she helped put this together. It was an overwhelming feast for the eyes and ears that was almost too narcotic inducing to be in too long. One could get drunk on beauty.
And, to single, and looking gay guys--if you are seeking to meet someone, let me point out--THIS IS THE BEST SHOW IN TOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As for what to show, how do I choose????????????
Is this Lady Gaga????????????
This costume, minus the cross, could be used in a production of "Follies!!!!!!!!!!"
Look at the richness of color! The patterns! Not this particular one, but, I am telling you, some of these garments were made by hand by sisters of the Convent Of St. Claire! Mrs. Danvers, in "Rebecca," was right, after all!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh, my God!!!!!!!! Can you see those jewels through the black? Live, they are even more dazzling!!!!!!!!!!!!
What a day, girls! I had the best sleep, last night, in weeks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!