Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sugarward (The Side Project) JOHN TAFLAN REVIEWER

Sugarward, the boringly mesmerizing new play by Sean Graney (though not directed by Sean Graney; directed by Geoff Button), strikes that delicate balance of being almost impossible to follow if you aren’t paying attention at all and being about several things it’s not ostensibly about.

In four terrible but excellent performances, John Henry Roberts (as Colonel Parke) and Joel Ewing (as manservant Thomas Kirby, former Governor Christopher Codrington, and corrupt sugar baron Edward Chester) have obviously memorized their lines.  And what lines they are!  To be honest though, I didn’t immediately understand some of the words in those lines until I thought about the context in which they were used.  Having then gleaned their meaning via a process of brain engagement, it was exciting because the writer (Sean Graney, who didn’t direct the play) would use them again and again and it was like getting a little treat every time you heard them because you had learned something earlier that you didn’t know before but now that you had learned it it was fun to be in on the joke and all of the sudden realize that a play can be about something other than people just sitting around complaining about a playwright’s loosely fictionalized friends and relatives.  (Also: don’t worry if you’re hard of hearing or feeling, because Joel Ewing projects at Metallica concert-like levels, accompanying every plosive with a justly infused shower of spittle.  [As alluded to above, Joel Ewing does play several different parts which is confusing unless you just accept it.]) 

Geoff Button directed this play as well as he could…which was actually really, really, really well.  He did an awesome job with it.  He spots Roberts and Ewing’s verbal calisthenics when they’re at the polysyllabic pull-up bar and holds their feet when they’re doing emotional sit ups.

Alright.  Let’s get down to brass tacks here.  No more smarming around.

There’s no need for a plot summary, just go see the play and know that what makes it so damn interesting is it’s assertion that the drive to obtain and ultimately possess power is, in fact, less dangerous than the desire men and women have to believe in those who pursue that power.  Oh, and it’s also about sugar.


-John Taflan

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Daisey/Williams War of 2013

There is a new controversy stirring in our precious Chicago Theatre blogosphere and this one goes all the way to the top. The people involved are some of the most important players in American Theatre and the web of intrigue will affect us all.

It’s like an episode of REVENGE mixed with an episode of DECEPTION mixed with an episode of WORLD’S FATTEST PEOPLE!

So, our favorite monologist and Kool Aid Man impressionist, Mike Daisey is up to his old tricks in the world of deceit. His new work “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” created quite a stir among white people when lithpy radio host Ira Glass announced ON PUBLIC RADIO airwaves that it was, in fact, not true!

Everyone piled on Daisey (which believe me, takes some effort and some rope) accusing him of basically raping American theater...even though all he really did is make a bunch of Mac nerd fanboys feel bad for about 30 seconds.

To be honest, we don’t even know what the controversy was about. The dude sits at a table and talks at you for 2 hours. If I expected every dude who sat at a table and told me stories about iphones to tell the truth every time, then... I would be legendary theatre critic Ton “The Fawn” Williands!

See, here in Chicago, legendary stage actor Lance “Pants” Baker has taken it upon himself to perform Daisey’s piece in an effort to change peoples’ minds 30 souls at a time. He’s performed the show repeatedly since Daisey’s Truthsexuality Outing on NPR, with the current production taking place at the 16th Street Theater. Tom “The Glomb” has reviewed the show on his site, and noted that there are STILL some errors in the script, even though Baker is performing the “redacted version,” which takes note of the Glass/Daisey tete a tete.

This is all fine and good. Maybe some Chinaman hurt his arm at a phone factory, maybe he didn’t. Do you care, Audience? Have you ever even SEEN a Chinaman before? Do you even know what an “arm” is?

Torn “The Dragonborn” Billsims obviously takes umbrage with the thought that this piece of theater is guilty of lying to him, but to defend our colleague here...Mr. Billsims thinks that everyone on stage, in movies, on TV, and at the grocery store is lying to him. He may not be sure what lying actually is, you guys.

I saw him yell at a flat soda for lying to him about bubbles. He yelled at Mario when he found out that Luigi wasn’t really his brother.

There was a horribly embarrassing moment once when I saw him repeatedly accuse the Puppet Bike guy of lying to children and him because those animals were dancing too well, and everyone knows that animals don’t dance that well and what the hell was he trying to prove.

So we can sit around and place blame on Toom “The Room” Swilldims for acting like a crazy person, OR, we can blame Mike Daisey for feeding the dragon.

Now, here’s what Mike Daisey wrote on his own blog to Mr. Swilldims, basically calling him out for being a terrible reviewer and a bullshit artist. Now, if anyone knows bullshit artists, it’s definitely Mike “Twinkies4Life” Daisey.

America's Greatest Entertainer
The only guy who walks out of this thing scot free is the man we can all get behind Lance Baker. His handsome eyes would never lie to us. His deep and swarthy baritone voice would never utter a word of hurt.

As for these other goofballs, they need to quit fighting. Neither of them are right. Mike, you got busted for lying on NPR, Todd “The Clod” Fillsom, you are a lunatic.

And, on top of that, you are acting like 14 year olds on YouTube flaming each other. Just look at that comments section y’all! This is a sad state of affairs, because no one gives a rats’ ass except for you two and some d-bag named Eric. Daisey, you have the potential to let go of this crap and go redeem yourself. Do we have to start calling you “The Fat Neil LaBute”? Because, I have no problem with that, I have NOTHING to lose, I am playing Skyrim tonight!

Daisey, why don’t you write a monologue about creepy reviewers? Or what about a hard hitting expose on the handsomeness of Eric and Andy? I would watch you sit at a table and talk about that for 90 minutes at least.

Please, drop this whole “defending” yourself thing. You aren’t Lance Armstrong, even though just as many people give a shit about cycling as one-man shows. I’m telling you, it’s gonna burn you up inside, all this hate. You’ll be headed for a Spaulding GRAVE.

And as for you, Thom “The Mom” Willham, go review a Lookingglass show and yell at the acrobats for lying to you about gravity.



-Eric Roach, Anderson Lawfer
-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach

Friday, January 11, 2013

Daniel Day Lewis is a PHONY (Person Review)

Well everyone, the Oscars nominations were released yesterday and everyone is abuzz about some little girl and some movie from France or something and why Ben Affleck didn’t get a handjob for his incredible work in Fargo.

So much controversy and so many things to talk about!

I would like to address something that always seems to bother me and it’s name is Daniel Day Lewis. Lewis is generally considered by everyone to be Earth’s greatest actor because of his transformative properties and intoxicating dialect work, but as I grow older and more interested in the art of acting, I have a few problems with that.

For the sake of comparison, I will only be referencing other white actors, ages 40-60 years old in this article, so if you tuned in to hear me compare Lewis to Angela Basset, then come back another day.

Ultimately, what I am going to try to prove to you through comparisons is that Daniel Day Lewis is a PHONY that should never be nominated for an Oscar and should probably only be doing Children’s Television shows.

Ok, let’s start with a scene that most of us are familiar with. Tom Hanks as Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia. As his character explains the meaning of an opera song to Denzel Washington. In this scene, Tom has a little makeup on and his hair has been lightened. He looks a little sick, but through his own voice, and human facial expressions and script words, we were all brought to tears.

What if Daniel Day Lewis played Andrew Beckett?

Andrew Beckett would have a limp, a thick mustache, he would have lost 45 pounds, an earring and probably a very bad cough, maybe a cane AND the IV thing.

The script would have been the same, so he would be saying the same words, just putting more obstacles in his way and this is where Daniel Day Lewis has us all fooled.

What about Ray Liotta in Goodfellas? There is a very simple and very affective scene where the gig is up and Liotta’s character Henry Hill is driving and behind him, he can see the helicopters coming over the horizon to arrest him. He clears the coke off the dashboard and panics and the scene is incredible. Literally one of the most intense and impressive scenes in film because of it’s simplicity.

What if Daniel Day Lewis was Henry Hill?

Lewis would have gone undercover in the mafia for 2 years to get this scene just right. Hill would have an eye patch and a big mustache. He would be wearing lots of jewelry and they would have to model a special car seat to make him very uncomfortable in the car for this scene, and he would probably need to use real cocaine for the scene and have been addicted for a few months as to not “fake” the emotions he would be feeling in his specially modeled car. Living as Henry Hill would be very hard on Lewis and he would have to retreat to his cobbler shop in Ireland for 3 years after this film to recuperate from his exhaustive performance and all encompassing transformation.

In America, we reward people who overcome obstacles, but in acting this shouldn’t be the way. We look for performances that are true and powerful but we also love the grandeur of disguise and illusion.

So, if you have a scene where you need to walk up to somebody and say “I love you”, the trick is in making your feeling believable, not in making YOU believable. The more crutches you give your character, the more obstacles you are giving your scene mate as well.

So walk over and say “I love you”.

Don’t limp over and whisper it in a South African accent. 

Now, what makes DDL special is his ability to convey anything with all that shit on his face. He is good at it. I am simply saying that we put too much weight into an actor’s ability to go to a costume shop and  spend 3 months living like a Civil War General or whatever.

Do you think DDL could do a romantic comedy like Paul Rudd or Bradley Cooper?

No. But I bet you that Bradley Cooper can put on a bunch of scars and a mustache and take a few voice lessons and be some dirty Irish hillbilly.

Because all actors can play a pirate or a Navajo Warrior for the right amount of money and time, but DDL can’t play a normal dude.

So basically, don’t fall for it. You are as good of an actor as Daniel Day Lewis. You just don’t have the money to get as weird.


-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach