spf reviews, first in a series of eight kagillion (or: you wish to go to the festival?: the perks of being industry)
as part of my prestigious shiny job, i get to... have to... get to... go to about half of the seven trillion shows in the summer play festival. [take a moment for the requisite into the woods moment. the festival? the festival? bonus points if you're referencing [title of show] at the same time.] anyway, this saturday marked the start of my spfmania. and i figure that since not everyone is as (forcibly) committed as i am, i ought to use my experience to do a service for all of you, telling you which of the spf shows, of the half of them that i'm seeing, are good. and which aren't. so let's get off to our inauspicious start.
millicent scowlworthy by rob handel. directed by ken russ schmoll, and featuring, unexpectedly, at least five actors i know through work or went to college with. a group of high school students reenacts the twisty, mysterious circumstances around a school shooting that happened many years ago. in the end, disappointing. lots of great performances (i always love maria dizzia, and brand new nyu mfa hannah cabel is proving to be consistently great), but the play just doesn't hold together. we never know why the kids are reenacting the story (aside from what we can infer about keeping the memory alive, which is too vague and unsupported for me), and we don't get the complete story about the shooting, which is a reaction to another crime in the community. i'm not a big advocate of obviousness, but i needed something a little more to hold on to. an interesting, mysterious premise was laid out, but never really went anywhere.
splitting infinity by jamie pachino, directed by matt shakman. an astrophysicist and her life-long best friend the rabbi debate god and the foundation of their friendship. as a closet astrophysics geek slash erstwhile jew, this seems made for me, but what is essentially an exploration of the human need for faith doesn't work so well when you're (i'm) a hard and fast agnostic.* the astrophysicist and her grad student set out to prove god doesn't exist - never addressed is the fact that even if you could somehow scientifically prove that, it would never beat faith, because faith exists separate from tangible proof. (they do mention briefly that you can't prove a negative statement, only a positive. but then they go to the illogical next step of 'if we set out to prove god exists, and fail, we've effectively proved that he doesn't.' um, that's not how it works. all you can say is that you couldn't prove that he exists.) my scientific ocd aside, there's also a bit of the the busy world is hushed problem of people arguing when i can't understand quite why. but for the most part an interesting, engaging show, if a little sentimental at the end. beautiful staging and set, and fantastic performances by ann dowd as the scientist, and especially paul kropfl as the young rabbi (in flashbacks). one of his main credits is the chosen, so i hope he can handle parts other than big-time heebs, but he was so fantastically, understatedly good, that i... you know... have faith. (ouch, right?)
coming up this week: gardening leave and the butcherhouse chronicles.
*an explanation of how 'hard and fast agnostic' isn't a contradiction in terms would be too much of a launch into my personal philosophy, but we'll just leave it as a firm belief that there's no way to know whether or not god exists, so we should just be good people and hope for the best.