Thursday, May 04, 2006


At least once a year, me and the Lipbalm catch a show on the Great White Way... or, off the Great White Way. Last year, the show of choice was my pick -- the Mantello-directed revival of Mamet's "Glengarry Glen Ross," starring Liev Schreiber and Alan Alda... only, not starring Schreiber the showing we saw. Thus far, our 2006 show was Tuesday night's preview showing of Friel's "Faith Healer," with a dream team cast of Ralph Fiennes, Cherry Jones, and (wait for it... wait... hold... holding... we're holding... and... release) IAN MCDIARMID!

The fucking EMPEROR! PALPATINE! The man who mastered my childhood! And everything afterwards! The reason I wanted to go into acting and never did!

The show is an import from Ireland and is only at the Booth Theatre for a few more weeks, so I wasn't going to let a Fiennes and McDiarmid title bout pass me by.

The performances are marvelous, pretty much consisting of four interrelated monologues -- but the characters never occupy the stage at the same time. So, despite the power of each actor, there is something disconcerting in not seeing them act against one another. Moreover, while stirring, the monologues each dip over 30 minutes in length -- do the math and you'll see that the show almost touched three hours. Call in a Red Bull or seven, people.

The show's biggest flaw was the length, something easily remedied by a dramaturgical flyover and trim. Seriously -- it could have easily afforded a twenty-minute edit and been all the more powerful for it. Also, Cherry Jones, one of my favorites, was directed to be histrionic at times, a disappointing style choice by director Jonathan Kent. The show was stolen, however, by McDiarmid's turn -- the man shows why he is a legend of the British stage scene for 30 years. Fiennes is great too, but I don't worship at his altar like I do THE EMPEROR!

Also satisfying is the people watching -- the opportunity to go to the thee-aht-tuh affords you a glimpse at all the wealthy, pulled faces and rent-controlled biddies who come out to people the audience of serious dramas. It's half social register, and half voting-booth operators.