Sunday, November 23, 2003

Breaking my own rules...again

Earlier this week I broke my obviously flexible No Theater Talk rule because with all the bitchy gossip and negative press around Taboo, I wanted to share my very positive feelings about it to do what small part I could to balance out the show's karma and encourage people to go judge for themselves.

I'm about to do it again because it's a bad season to be straight play on Broadway, and my friends who are working on I Am My Own Wife asked me to tell everyone I can how much I loved it. This seems like a good way to do that, no?

I'm not sure what I expected from the show, but certainly not what I got. I'm not usually a huge fan of one man shows, but this didn't really feel like one. Maybe that's because it's not one of those shows where a famous actor stands onstage and talks about his or her "fascinating" life. No, he's playing a role -- several of them, actually -- and playing them so brilliantly that I don't know why Jefferson Mays isn't a big star. The play is structured in a way that allows dialogue to happen without getting too into the hokey convention of watching an actor talk to himself. Again, I credit this largely to Jefferson Mays' excellent work. Each character is so specific in voice and gesture that you really do (please pardon the cliche) forget you're watching a single actor onstage.

I don't want to talk about the story, because it's worth discovering for yourself if you go see the play. But it's a historical piece, based on real people (including the playwright and his experience of interviewing the central figure), and it's a truly fascinating and easily-lost piece of history that I'm very glad is being preserved this way.

Finally, every element of the design is flawless, from the simple set and costumes to the elegant lighting to the intricate sound.

If you like sitting in a theater for two hours and being told a great story by a great storyteller, go see I Am My Own Wife immediately. It's not even very expensive as Broadway shows go, so stop using that excuse!

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