Saturday, February 9, 2013

"clive." dana lyn. ethan hawke.


we saw the new ethan hawke project clive last week.  it officially opened yesterday.  our friend dana is in the cast and comped us tickets.  we got great second row seats, and talked with the star/director briefly, when he dropped by dana's table after the show.

we knew dana was in the production but it was still a funny / fun surprise to open the sunday times arts a couple weeks ago and see her.

i really dig the play.  evocative atmosphere- squalid urban underbelly, three penny opera. because it's, in fact, based on an early brecht play- baal. but the new group version has a very american, almost southern gothic feel.

rewritten by jonathan marc sherman, the script has a cool back and forth rhythm between rude explicit dirty or just plain bad stuff, and poignant allusions to nature, punctuated by humor. perfectly chosen americana music. intense energy.  at points, very funny!  dynamic chemistry between hawke, who plays a hedonistic rocker of vile raunchy charm, and vincent d'onofrio, who opens the play alluding to the devil but who ends up in a very different place. brooks ashmanskas is just super in several roles, including a swishy (east village?) landlord and even one of a jocular pair of canadian mounties - yes, mounties(!)- who appear unexpectedly, like two shakespearian buffoons! 

to me the production had one shortcoming- the author apparently constrained himself to stick to brecht scene for scene. there's no real story arc, just a spectacular downward vortex.  this makes it hard to get emotionally hooked anywhere.  mike says i have to explain this further so i will, later.

wondered if this could work on screen- the story would have to be fleshed out and probably less stylized?  or maybe totally stylized like baz luhrmann's moulin rouge? i'm imagining club scenes- limelight?  the club in a church would be a great setting for this pilgrimage of depravity!

another thing that makes it fun- the show has a really hip downtowny / brooklyny quality- the music choices, the groovy outsider art set design, the german cabaret theater connection and the vintagey costumes all have a williamsburgish aesthetic.  dana said the guys who designed the sonic sculptures, which are a big element of the set, also picked the tunes. link- grimes.  music plays a big role in the production and dana performs much of it, both on the sonic set furniture, which i'll describe in a later post, and also on violin and piano.  

dana is the last character on stage at the end of the play and she mournfully fiddles the lights down with whatever tune feels right.  we found out later that last week she played an irish air because she knew mike, who's an irish fiddler himself, was in the audience. i love dana's chamber music group yeti camp which i tried to describe here. apparently she also leads a 13 piece burt bacharach cover band- dionne werewolf- looking forward to that! dana lyn link.

i hope to see clive again before it closes- it offers a lot to chew on!

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