05 February 2007

In Case You Forgot

Neil Genzlinger is a douche.

Okay, I know I'm not supposed to say that. And I don't even mean it. But I am completely at a loss to understand how a person could see Victoria Martin: Math Team Queen and come out with anything other than a warm glow.

I need to stop seeing shows closing weekend, because these phone messages are pretty useless: "Hey, so if there is any way possible that you can see Victoria Martin: Math Team Queen before it closes tomorrow, you must. There's an 8pm tonight and a 3pm tomorrow. It's amazing. Go go go." Because of course, no one shells out $40 that last-minute, especially not for a show that had just been slammed by the Times: "nothing beyond easy, tired stereotypes," "this play, intended to be a light comedy, ends up being surprisingly oppressive," "it’s nothing that hasn’t been done repeatedly, and better, on television."

Maybe Kate Walat (the playwright) wasn't trying to do anything new. But even I, the tyrannical enforcer of the theatrical New, can put that aside to be won over by something so delightful, so wonderful, so funny and good. It's frothy, but it's not just fluff. What makes it a solid piece of theatre, aside from sharp dialogue and bright production, is that these characters are real, solid, 3-D people, not the cardboard cutouts that populate weaker members of this genre. Walat uses a well-worn framework - popular girl has to join the math team, turns out to be smart and good, is turned on by her shallow friends, learns the power of Being Yourself - but she's written it richly and sensitively, and it's also really fucking funny. And maybe that is new, too, in its way.

Okay, it wasn't perfect, and, as these things sometimes do, it ran into a little trouble at the end - the balance between tying up loose ends and not being too neat is tricky, but I don't let shakiness there ruin a great two hours. (Also maybe the two fastest hours I've ever spent in a theatre.) The cast was top-to-bottom brilliant, and I have a crush on about 60% of it. The set and all the design were positively vibrant, as was the direction. It was fast, it was fun, and when I say it was sweet you have to know that it wasn't sappy, wasn't cloying. Just wonderful, lovable characters, and sharp, good writing that all hit you right in your heart. I wish I had seen it earlier in the run so I could be telling you all to go see it, but hopefully some of you did that on your own.

1 comment:

Moxie said...

Nice title :-) Your review is spot-on. No idea why the Times had to be so rough on this, other than punishing theater that doesn't appeal to snobs.

I too have a crush on about 60% of the cast... especially the red-headed percentage. I am SUCH a sucker for the redheads, it is just embarassing.