Mysterious Skin, my play based on the novel by Scott Heim (who loves it when I blog about him even more than Noel Alumit loves me blogging about him), has been running in Orange County for the past three weeks. It's an odd place for this very provocative and unblinking piece to find a home—smack in the middle of Conservative California.
The mainstream Orange County Register gave the production a rave review, while it was the supposedly hip alternative Orange County Weekly that spat out the most vitriolic, angry, grossly ignorant, and shamefully irresponsible review of one of my plays I have ever seen (I think Elton John's Lestat got off easy compared to this)—calling it, among other things, "fucking gross." And then asserting: "Since there can't really be any surprise with the outcome, the adaptation by Prince Gomolvilas (from the novel by Scott Heim) aims instead for absolutely disgusting." The title of the review? "NAMBLA Love Letter." A ridiculous attempt at shock value and an insensitive (and one could argue, purposely wrong) interpretation of the story's intentions.
Am I upset by this review? No! I love it! It's so entertaining that I'm going to frame it. In her effort to lambast the play's raw and graphic approach, the critic writes her review with the intention to be as raw and graphic as possible in order to prove a point. She's angry that the play explores gray areas, to which I say, "Stay home and watch an after-school special, lady." I have been taking particular pleasure in repeating her phrase, "the slap-slap of dick," over and over again.
I don't ever engage my critics because 1.) we all know that theater critics' mothers suck cocks in hell and 2.) it's not protocol to really ever acknowledge them or their writing. But I'm in a particularly feisty mood this week, and I was also told a very delightful story directly related to this.
There's a scene near the end of the play where a character's nose starts to bleed profusely. In this stage production, the actor pops a fake blood capsule against his face to achieve the desired effect. At one performance on opening weekend, the capsule exploded violently by accident. In a 45-seat house, it was no surprise that fake blood not only snaked in streams across stage and toward the audience but also some audience members were splattered with the color red. The unluckiest victim of the fake blood? The woman from the O.C. Weekly. Hahahahaha!
I am happy to report that when the rave in the Register came out, Rude Guerilla Theater Company saw a nice increase in ticket sales. When the hateful Weekly review hit, the box office saw an even sharper spike in attendance and houses have been full.
"Vengeance is mine," sayeth the Lord. (Or was that Charles Bronson?)