I sometimes find myself in Manhattan. I found myself there last January through May, interning for a prominent national entertainment weekly (how cryptic). I found myself there in October to see Elaine Stritch, Woody Allen and Sweeney Todd. And I found myself there this past weekend to see a bizarre trio of folks: Wallace Shawn, Phylicia Rashad and Cynthia Nixon. Let us ponder the shortest, squealiest of them.
Wallace Shawn. So I didn't actually see him, but Shawn and his brother Allen have finally produced The Music Teacher, a play-opera (plopera?) of theirs that's been shelved for decades, at the Minetta Lane Theatre in the Village. It's a blithering/fascinating trainwreck. Shawn is like a more specific Woody Allen: nebbish, monologue-ish, but focused purely on existential matters (whereas Woody broadens his nerves to romance and pop culture). Sometimes Shawn and Allen work together, and the result is good.
I recently watched Shawn's Vanya on 42nd Street, a pseudo-experimental bit of theatre-film (thilm?) that gave us Julianne Moore (can you believe she's just now readying her Broadway debut?). Vanya is a satisfactory experiment that halfway succeeds, and The Music Teacher is a satisfactory experiment that fully fails. Both are steered by the same narrative force -- a vastly preoccupied man vocalizing absurdist concerns about his place in the universe -- and both emerge half-baked, quasi-realized, etc. Now I'm starting to write like Shawn, so it's time to stop. I'm going to go play with my My Dinner with Andre action figures.
Look who got to meet President Obama!
4 hours ago