Sunday, November 23, 2008

New Day #332

Went shopping for new slippers at Target today and decided to use the little scooter.

This is not the first time I've experimented with a disability. For those of you who haven't been following all year, there was Fun with Blindness Day, and my Wheelchair Date and One Armed Man Day.

Still, it amazed me how quickly using the cart changed how I thought about myself. Every time I got out of it, I felt compelled to limp. But maybe that's because I didn't want people to think I wasn't disabled. It occurred to me afterwards that perhaps I was keeping some deserving disabled person from shopping, which made me feel like a Class-A Asshole.

That said, the slow-moving made for a very relaxing shopping experience, except when I backed up and I beeped like a garbage truck.

In other news, the Oregonian loved Holidazed. Bowels are once again moving.

Here's the review, which sounds like it was written by my mother. Knowing my mother, I wouldn't be surprised. In actual fact, it was written by one Michael McGregor, who is obviously brilliant, handsome and well-hung.

When a theater company advertises an original production with that lofty term "world premiere," what appears onstage is usually a work-in-progress. But "Holidazed," the new play by Marc Acito and C.S. Whitcomb debuting at Artists Repertory Theatre, is that rarest of pleasures: a fresh creation as well formed and finely tuned as an old favorite.

No doubt, a favorite is what it's destined to be. It has all the requisite ingredients: humor, a family-oriented story, a questioning of the trappings that obscure the season's true meaning, and the triumph of peace and goodwill.


It has something else as well: a premiere staging by a superb cast and a talented director with an intuitive feeling for the material.

Susannah Mars shines at the story's center as Julia, a typical suburban mother trying to survive a mother's many holiday duties. This year seems like any other until she gives a bag of Halloween candy to a homeless girl. When the girl asks her name, a random act of kindness becomes a personal encounter, prompting Julia to take her home for the night.

The invitation breaks Julia's conventional life wide open. Not only is the girl, Luna, a runaway and a pagan, she has a homeless boyfriend and a street thug harasser. The chaos they bring to the family's tightly scripted routine make redemptive revisions possible.

As played by Ana Reiselman, Luna makes a wonderful catalyst for change. Sassy but loving, tough but fragile, she is first and foremost a human being, deserving of love and dignity. While paganism may seem strange in a holiday play, Luna's knowledge of it strips away the family's illusions about where their supposedly Christian traditions began, opening their eyes to simpler truths.

This might not sound especially funny, but Acito and Whitcomb milk every situation. Just for good measure, they give Julia a feminist mother who speaks from the grave and two gay friends who pepper the show with bawdy humor. (Family-oriented doesn't necessarily mean family-friendly.)

Todd Van Voris and Michael Mendelson are hilarious as the campy couple and an assortment of other characters. Mendelson dons a platinum wig to portray Julia's prudishly perfect sister-in-law, for example, and Van Voris stops the show as a tipsy grandma disrupting a hilariously ruined Thanksgiving dinner with rantings about terrorists. (Damon Kupper, who plays Julia?s staid husband, Scott, adds a wonderfully funny second performance, too?as an immigrant clerk who mistakes Julia for a homeless person.)

Director Jon Kretzu combines a crisp pace with an easy rhythm to blend humor naturally with deeper meaning. He draws fine performances from the young actors who play Julia's three children and Luna's boyfriend as well, and makes excellent use of both Jeff Seats' supple three-tiered stage and Jeff Forbes' smart space-defining lighting.

"Holidazed" does more than recognize and transcend the holidays' usual attributes -- family squabbles, overburdened mothers, and guilt feelings when you see the needy. It manages to be inclusive while reaffirming traditional values too. And that's an especially deft trick.

7 comments:

Sharon said...

Kudos.

I was in the audience yesterday. Laughed and shed a tear.

MightyToyCannon said...

Bravo on the fab review. May "Holidazed" become the "Christmas Carol" of the next century, produced by theaters across the nation to fill their coffers (and yours).

David said...

Congrats!

maria said...

As we say here in Madrid ¡¡¡ Enhorabuena!!!
What a fabulous review of Holidazed !.

Please, please, have someone make a video recording of the play, so that your fans from far away can buy copies of it. Otherwise, we are going to miss the whole thing, and that is just sooo frustrating.

joanna said...

Yay! Congratulations!

splattworks said...

Congrats on the opening, man! (Isn't that an amazing, terrifying feeling when the lights begin to go down and you realize there's no way out? Whoa...that's slick pavement beneath this motorcycle....)

Steve

Anonymous said...

Oh yay! That's such a wonderful review! Congratulations! I can't wait to see it myself =D