After seeing the second preview, I was away until opening night, last Thursday. I brought my mom to see the show and enjoy the brief reception afterward; the last production of mine she saw in person was more than four years ago, so it was really, really nice to have her there. And the opening performance was flawless: I couldn't have been more pleased, or prouder of the work we all did to bring this play to the stage.
Sadly, the two reviews we've gotten so far have been mixed-to-unfavorable. Both critics were plainly unwilling to accept the play's built-in challenge (a woman sitting at a table monologuing, often rather elliptically, for an hour and a quarter), and therefore wholly oblivious to the meticulous structure and superb writing that Tracy has built within those formidably stark parameters.
One of the reviews -- seemingly on some kind of vengeful mission to spoil every last plot revelation, starting with its headline -- arrives at a provocative but woefully ill-supported conclusion, of the casually obnoxious "here's what they should have done" variety.
The other is a collection of astute observations bobbing atop what turns out to be a pretty deep well of incomprehension, for which the writer ultimately opts to blame the show, with a regretful shrug, rather than attempt any deeper engagement.
All of us who worked on this play knew it wasn't an easy ask for audiences, but it's discouraging when even the designated explainers -- the critics -- miss the boat this completely. Even some of the capsule audience reviews on Show-Score (where we currently rate a 76, not terrible but certainly not great) are more on-target.
At least Tracy's extraordinary performance is rightly acknowledged by most (viewers and reviewers) -- though the physical production has gotten, in my obviously-biased opinion, undeservedly short shrift.
I did find one other review which, while still not fully apprehending the script's jigsaw architecture, is at least on-board enough to appreciate what's there rather than jumping to complain about what isn't. I'm guessing that this reviewer may have at least vaguely intuited that there are deliberate dramaturgical reasons (even if she can't quite put her finger on them) for the play's structural austerity, its slow parcelling-out of information, and the way it privileges psychological nuance over dramatic fireworks.
Or it could be that I'm inclined to give this reviewer the benefit of the doubt, in part, because she manages a few nice words for the creative team.
And even still -- one more whine, last but not least: nowhere in any of these reviews is the gorgeous, exquisitely subtle lighting of my colleague Kate McGee given its due.
Signature's new revival may not be perfect (according to Peter Marks, linked below), but I'm intrigued by Lee Savage's design concept, blurring the psychic geography of "into the woods/out of the woods" in the unit set of an overgrown cottage:
Plenty of ITWs have played with juxtapositions of inside and outside, culture and nature, architecture and wilderness -- often framing the evening within a domestic interior that opens up, breaks apart, reveals or is taken over by forest at various points in the story.
What interests me about this one is that it seems to place the entire narrative in an (I'm guessing, from the photos, fairly static) environment where such juxtapositions have already advanced to a point of signal ambiguity; where those dualities have all been scrambled, may have been chimerical to begin with, and aren't likely to be reestablished as tidily distinct categories anytime in the foreseeable future.
Lots of the snow has melted since Thursday, although there are still some slippery areas, both on the streets and on the sidewalks. It's supposed to be in the 50s for most of the next week, so that should take care of those spots.
Nothing really to report today. Yesterday I finally sort of cleaned the bathroom, meaning that I cleaned the areas that mattered to me, and I cleaned them as well as I could. None of it would pass muster with my mother, but I feel pretty decent about it.
Also -- speaking of current screen whodunnits in the classic Agatha Christie mould -- See How They Run (now on HBO Max) is an enjoyable watch, even featuring a droll third-act appearance by Dame Agatha herself (played by Shirley Henderson). Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan head a delightful all-star cast, and if everyone's coasting (with the possible exception of Adrien Brody, who earns his paycheck by taking quite a slapstick beating in two back-to-back fight sequences en route to becoming the evening's first corpse), they're nonetheless having an infectiously good time -- like so:
It's been lightly snowing all day. I heard it was supposed to start snowing heavily, but it hasn't yet. This afternoon I heard a total of one to three inches, which is much different from the six inches I heard yesterday evening.
Today someone finally called me, so I know the new phone works now for telephone purposes.
Technical details: I got an iPhone SE, replacing my first generation SE that I purchased in November 2017. I loved the old phone, and I did an awful lot of thinking about whether I really needed Face ID or a better camera. I probably could have stuck with the old phone for another six months to a year, but I wanted something that ran the new operating system.