That's Something You Don't See Every Day, Chauncey

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Archive for January, 2016

This is what’ll happen if you ain’t giving your girl what she needs.

Posted by kozemp on January 28, 2016

This is not going to be particularly polished, or even coherent, because I desperately need sleep, and my knee hurts like hell and has taken on a shape more reminiscent of a softball than a human joint, and there is a small blue bottle sitting on the kitchen counter that is going to fix ALL of those things all at once, but once again I am in the position of needing to get something down while it is still fresh in my mind.

I just came back from the world premiere of The It Girl, by Amanda Schoonover, Brenna Geffers, and Anthony Crosby, at the brand-new Drake Theater. (Technically, I suppose, at the Louis Bluver Theater at the Drake, but I can be more interested in splitting that particular hair later.)

I am struggling here to accurately describe what the show IS. I can pull out the old English Major Douchebaggery merit badge and go on at exceptional length about what the show says, and what it is about, and how it presents those things, and how well it does it, and how important the things it’s saying are, but I am really stuck on a basic description of what you get when you sit down.

The best I can come up with – and partially because I don’t want to spoil the joy of discovery that comes with watching the show become what it is in front of you – is that it’s a about the life and career of silent film star Clara Bow. This is a bit like the way I once talked about describing LA Confidential, where as soon as you say that you want to add “but it’s SOOOOOOO much more than that.” And it is. But I can’t tell you what any of those things ARE because knowing it would ruin a lot of the magic of it.

What I can tell you is that the execution of all the things I’m not telling you is fucking amazing. Amanda Schoonover is astonishing as Clara, whipsawing across the silent film star’s life with an energy I could scarcely believe from 15 feet away. (The Louis Bluver theater is, to put it mildly, very intimate.) I want to see more of her Clara, and when you see this show and realize exactly what that means, and what it is, and that’s it’s ME saying that, you’re going to retroactively understand just how effusive my vague praise here is.

The fact that the previous paragraph requires a time machine to fully work is a good sign that it’s close to blue bottle time.

It is not, strictly speaking, a one-woman show, and Anthony Crosby… it took me a little while to sort of realize what he’s representing here, but it’s so cool and understated and I love the way it ends up working. Take care to pay special attention to “understated” there because, trust me, the desire to take what he’s doing and hammer the audience with it can often be too powerful to dismiss. I’ve seen shows that do that. I’m pretty sure that at least once I made a show that did that. The fact that this show doesn’t is just another thing that’s so great about it.

And then you get to the end… sort of… and the conclusion of Clara’s story feels earned in a way that biographies never seem to manage because real life just doesn’t work that way, does it? But it does here, and it’s heartbreaking.

And then…

Shit, you know what it’s like? Remember at the end of The Ring, when Rachel pulls Samara’s body out of the well, and there’s the big dawn scene of “hey, we fixed everything, now let’s go home and enjoy life?” And then there’s still 20 minutes of movie left that turn your soul into jelly? The It Girl has a moment like that, a moment where it’s clearly all over and you’re ready to release all your built up tension and head home and then Aidan says “you helped her?” and suddenly everything jumps to another level and you are trapped in this thing and it won’t let you go. It’s transcendent. I wish I could tell you more about it but I refuse to. You’re going to have to trust me on this one. I don’t use words like “transcendent” lightly.

I haven’t even talked about how great the script is, how like all the best period pieces it’s actually about right now, and how sharply it addresses the horrifying truth that 90 years later showbusiness still chews women up and spits them out. I could go on for days about that too. This show is so great it makes me angry I didn’t do it.

Put simply, like a wise man once said: it is unique, and unique is always valuable.

You must, must go see it.

JLK

 

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