Posted in based on a novel, based on a play, cheating, cinema, comedy, comedy-drama, committment, couples, film

Isle (sic) Seats

T and B sit in aisle seats at our “in-house theater” where movies are the entertainment.

Here on our little island home, we let Showtime® or Movies!® or TMC® (among others) regale us with cinema past present and future.

Serendipitous

A little tremor passed through me when I picked up the December 3rd issue of The New Yorker to find a reprint of a Nora Ephron piece from 2006. The shudder was the thrill of serendipity.

I had just seen Heartburn and here she was chatting about cooking and food. In the article, Serial Monogamy, she acknowledges that the roman à clef upon which the film is based is a thinly disguised version of her second marriage. The ups and downs and downs of this union are played out by Meryl Streep as Rachel Samstat and Jack Nicholson as her not so faithful husband, Mark Forman.

I never take serendipity lightly or for granted but frequently have no idea what to do with it. This is such a case, a reinforcement as it were of its very randomness.

Cooking

Ephron’s story stirred another chord of memory for me. My mother had been working on a Meditterean cookbook for some time. Her manuscript sits in my closet and I wonder if I should try some of her recipes.

I wonder, but mostly I feel guilty because I know I won’t make any attempt to replicate her best-loved dishes. Then, perhaps, I should just acknowledge that I am too random a cook to follow anyone’s directions. And that I am better off not messing with her signature.

Leaving a bad taste

There are few scenes of cooking in a Woody Allen feature, notably the hilarious lobster bruhaha in Annie Hall and the feasts whipped up by the title character (portrayed by Mia Farrow)  in Hannah and Her Sisters. Allen is a frequent guest in our home–not in person, of course, although I did run into him in the neighborhood once. We generally  find his movies interesting, thought-provoking, and brilliant. We have admired his genius. 

Unfortunately, Allen has had a substantial  helping of problems of late, landing in the fire for alleged sexual misconduct of a heinous variety. His films are suggestive of a guilty verdict.

For instance, I found Play It Again, Sam funny, brilliant and moving upon a recent re-viewing. Then we came to a truly objectionable  scene in which Allen and Diane Keaton appear to exalt the virtues of rape. Is there a point, beyond being outrageous to this? How does Keaton react to the impropriety of the script, I wonder?

In Manhattan, Allen’s man-child character is dating an underage, if extremely mature Mariel Hemingway. This has always made me cringe and turned me off this film, despite its many lovely images of the city, and some very smart dialogue.

Hot Water Indeed

Then there’s Hannah and Her Sisters, a wonderful study of love and relationships in their many permutations, marred  by the introduction of pedophilia. It’s brought in as a small bit in which Allen’s Mickey, a comedy writer and show runner, is battling his network–and his assistant,  played by Julie Kavner–over including a segment in which this taboo is prominent.

Really?  The presence of this in this iconic movie has fuelled and given credence to  the allegations against Woody Allen.

 We are left with a few pictures we can whole-heartedly endorse in the backlist of Allen’s output. Broadway Danny Rose may be his most romantic venture of the earlier works.

It is a critical no-no for a critic to confuse the art with the artist, of course, but the crisis challenging Allen fans looms large.  His early oevre seems to feed into the #MeToo-related issues that plague him. Thankfully, the more recent films are here for us to reaffirm his intense dedication to the art of the cinema and his astonishing talent.

Posted in acceptance, adultery, aspiration, comedy-drama, committment, couples, dalliance, dramedy, infedility, love, love story, loyalty, premieres, romance, serious comedy, The Mint Theatre

Monogamy

Is it really cheating if your spouse approves your infidelity?

Creatives    Directing Jonathan Bank     Sets Carolyn Mraz     Costumes Hunter Kaczorowski     Lights Xavier Pierce     Original Music & Sound Jane Shaw     Projections Katherine Freer     Props Joshua Yocom     Casting Stephanie Klapper, CSA     Product
Max von Essen and Elisabeth Gray in Yours Unfaithfully by Miles Malleson. Photo © Richard Termine.

Exploring the conventions of marriage and the humbug of monogamy, Miles Malleson wrote and published Yours Unfaithfully in 1933. Mint Theater Company is giving this charming and disarming comedy/drama a premiere showing through February 18th, under the direction of Jonathon Bank. For this discovery, we owe them a great thanks.

Creatives    Directing Jonathan Bank     Sets Carolyn Mraz     Costumes Hunter Kaczorowski     Lights Xavier Pierce     Original Music & Sound Jane Shaw     Projections Katherine Freer     Props Joshua Yocom     Casting Stephanie Klapper, CSA     Product
Max von Essen and Mikaela Izquierdo in Yours Unfaithfully by Miles Malleson. Photo © Richard Termine

 

 

Stephen Meredith (Max von Essen) is blissfully enjoying his wife’s beneficence. Anne (Elisabeth Gray) has given her blessing for him to “get into some mischief” with Diana Streathfield (Mikaela Izquierdo) in the hope that an affair would rejuvenate Stephen and end his writer’s block.

Neither she nor Stephen imagine any other consequence. They are acting on their convictions that a strong marriage can withstand other and lesser alliances, just as Stephen’s father, the Rev. Meredith (Stephen Schnetzer) acts on his principles when he is shocked to learn of Stephen and Diana’s dalliance. Anne’s confidant and the Merediths’ friend, Dr. Alan Kirby (Todd Cerveris) preaches the counterbalance of the head to the heart.

The brilliantly deft production of Yours Unfaithfully is a welcome addition to the Mint archive. As is customary in a Mint production, sets and costumes have a panache as well. The scenic (by Carolyn Mraz) and costume (by Hunter Kaczorowski) design are admirable. The top-notch ensemble brings Malleson’s smart vision to life with an easy flair. It’s a tribute to all involved that one can’t peg Yours Unfaithfully as  drama, or drawing-room comedy; it transcends labels and stands on its own.

For more information and tickets, please visit the Mint website.

 

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Shine

via Daily Prompt: Shine with thanks to Ben Huberman, The Daily Post for the inspiration

NoLateSeatingThose who crave the spotlight most often become entertainers. Their talent demands it. It is their calling to shine.

We applaud them, and in so doing bask in the glow of their accomplishment. They are center stage with the footlights on them, but we are illuminated by their performance.

Their light shines on us as they render and interpret and presnet their truths. Greater  performers shine brightest, and we shine brighter too.

Posted in academia, committment, feminism, Hannah Patterson, motherhood, Women

Having it all….

Trudi Jackson, Daisy Hughes, Alan Cox, and Mark Rice-Oxley  in “Playing With Grown Ups,” part of Brits Off Broadway at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

“I am woman, hear me roar,” the radio blares. In the background a baby wails in distress as only babies can.
In Hannah Patterson’s drama, “Playing With Grown Ups.” at 59E59 Theaters through May 18th, the choices — have a family, enjoy a career– seem to be constricting. For Joanna (Trudi Jackson), at any rate, the ones she’s made are stifling. Her husband, Robert (Mark Rice-Oxley), pays lip service about wanting to be a care-at-home dad, while he’s wrapped up in his work. Robert has to worry about the possibility that as a film professor he may soon be redundant.

Daisy Hughes and Trudi Jackson in “Playing With Grown Ups,” part of Brits Off Broadway at 59E59 Theaters.
Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Even Jake (Alan Cox), Robert’s head of department and Joanna’s ex, is on edge. Jake’s seventeen year old pick up, Stella (Daisy Hughes) is the only one wise beyond her years, as she calmly observes the “grown ups” in mid life crisis.

Mark Rice-Oxley and Trudi Jackson in “Playing With Grown Ups,” part of Brits Off Broadway at 59E59 Theaters.
Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Stella’s role as confidante, muse, or siren is a bit tenuous, although Daisy Hughes is extremely winsome. Just as Robert and Joanna have the off-stage Lily crying over the baby monitor, Stella’s oft-quoted mother bolsters her character.  When Joanna asks if she’s read Sylvia Plath, Stella says, “Please. My mum’s a psychotherapist. I grew up on Sylvia Plath.”

Daisy Hughes and Alan Cox in “Playing With Grown Ups,” part of Brits Off Broadway at 59E59 Theaters.
Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Somewhere midway through, “Playing With Grown Ups” loses some steam, whether because of the script or the direction by Hannah Eidinow is unclear. It soon picks up plenty of emotion and energy as it draws to its inevitable conclusion.

The acting is excellent. Not a misstep from any of them: Trudi Jackson’s steady meltdown; Mark Rice-Oxley’s cluelessness; Alan Cox’s detached bonhomie, and Daisy Hughes’ sweet knowing innocence are all spot on.

As a sample of the proto-feminism in  “Playing With Grown Ups,” let us submit this favorite dialog exchange: (Stella says) “There’s so much going on with women at the same time…..” (Joanna inserts) “One seamless, endless state of doing.” (Stella) “Men make a song and dance of doing one thing. Really loudly….”

To learn more about “Playing With Grown Ups,” please visit www.59e59.org.