Good God. What a perfectly awful something I saw this evening. Unfortunately, it involved two friends...Caesar and D.L.
I call it a something because it wasn't actually an anything. It was an evening that felt like at least two to three hours, although (I learned from checking my watch afterwards) it was in fact only about an hour and ten minutes long. And it was deeply terrible.
Take a bunch of poems written by students and teachers from the Bronx about their lives. Think of the worst possible way you can assemble them into something stageworthy. Cast it (with a couple of exceptions) with complete amateurs. Then do it...and force other people (primarily friends and family) to see it. Call it theatre.
It was excruciatingly bad. It was on the edge of nausea bad. Caesar did his level best, as did a gal named Mary (whom I also know), but they were voices crying in a completely ghastly wilderness. The bright spots in this evening are as follows:
1. Caesar will never, ever, ever again be able to taunt me about that awful play about Iraq I did.
2. I got to see my Irish actor pal Joe, whom I adore. Like me, he came to support Caesar in this tangled wilderness of awfulness.
3. After meandering through miles and miles of Harlem, we ended up at a place that absolutely suited my appetite. This was because we were on 122nd and Riverside. According to D.L. (who directed this fiasco), we were all going to Dinosaur Barbecue, which was "about a five minute walk." Dinosaur Barbecue turned out to be on 131st and 12th Avenue. And too crowded and noisy. So we ended up at 122nd and Amsterdam at a mercifully quiet little cafe. And the small plates were lovely. Prosciutto, salami, cheese, caponata, smoked salmon...oh, yeah.
All of this almost made up for the show, but not quite.
And this was the perfect evening to put into play the backstage greetings I learned from my pal Marty and the gang nearly 50 years ago...actually, I think we formulated them. These are the weasel lines you use when you go backstage to see friends (or wait at the stage door for them) when the show is an unmitigated disaster.
To An Actor (clasping both his hands in yours): DAARLING! I've never seen anything like it! (And never want to again.)
To the Director: Your VISION! Amazing! (What were you taking, because I should deeply love to avoid it.)
The the Costumer: You are truly, truly gifted. (And should probably try to return the gift. Do you have the receipt?)
To the Composer: Such a wonderful blending of old and new! (And aren't you glad all those GOOD composers are dead and can't sue you for horrendously awful plagiarism?)
To the Set Designer: Your work just MADE the show! (Into this month's DON'T column in Better Homes and Gardens. And how DO you do those chairs that the actors can't sit on properly?)
To the Producer: Your theatrical acumen is astounding! (You know, the way you have an unerring eye for what will open on Tuesday and close on Saturday.)
Ah, well. Ice cream and bed. Well, some people take sleeping pills. I think ice cream is better...and there's a good half of that pint of White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle downstairs.