A friend sent me this e-mail today:
Dear Prince, I'm sending you on the ultimate "blind" date, dude.... I stumbled across this Yelp review, and, I swear, I think this guy might be your soulmate! Or at least you might become very "special friends" (who sometimes hate each other's guts, occasionally screw each other over as a byproduct of sheer stupidity, but desperately love each other in spite of it all?!??). I thought this was a pretty hilarious and intelligent review. And for some reason--gosh darn it, I've no idea why!--it reminded me of you. So I'm passing it on....
Well, how could I resist an endorsement like that? Here is that review, reprinted here in full:
Review for Crowded Fire Theater Company
In addition to serving as a breeding ground for mono, teenage pregnancies, and future douchebags of the world, my high school was one of the few schools in Hawai'i to have an actual repertory school of the arts. And since I'm in the business of CONFIRMING STEREOTYPES, it shouldn't surprise you to hear that -- along with pining over straight boys and spending a lot of time in the library -- I was QUITE the active theater student, though I never did MUSICAL theater, I'm not THAT fucking gay. Maybe it's because I could apply makeup with abandon...or because I had entire rooms filled with costumes and clothes at my disposal...or because all the hot boys like George, Kaleo, and Bill were also theater kids...or because I got the opportunity to pretend to be someone I'm not, I mean, aside from pretending to be STRAIGHT...but the theater was the sole, shining beacon in my otherwise drab and depressing adolescence.
I felt the pull of Shakespeare, of course; I had a turn as "Thomas" in Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You; I had my 'triumvirate' of favorite playwrights: Beckett ("...I can't go on..."), Pinter ("...I'll go on..."), and Mamet ("FUCK YOU, YOU GOY MOTHERFUCKING COCKSUCKER").
Well, I realized I couldn't make ends meet as an actor. Let's face it: unless you're a martial arts master or fancy playing the Dragon Lady, there aren't a lot of roles for Asians. It's total bullshit of course, because have you seen ME play King Lear? WELL HAVE YOU?!? I FUCKING OWN THAT ROLE!! But NOOOOO, no one ever stages an ASIAN King Lear, nuh-uh! Oh you are men of stones! Had I your tongues and eyes I'D KICK YOU IN THE BALLS.
So until I went to see the Crowded Fire Theater Company production of "Gone" by Charles Mee a few days ago, it had been YEARS since I watched a play and yes I am a VERY BITTER PERSON.
Performed by an ensemble cast, "Gone" is a non-narrative, 'bricolage' play of different texts drawn from both traditional (Sophocles, for example) and contemporary (blogs and obituaries) sources. What brings these discrete materials together is the theme of evanescence, of disappearance, and of the strong human desire to hold onto these moments even as they slip through our fingers.
As a play, I thought Gone was compelling in some respects and flat in others. I enjoyed the rendition of Philip Larkin's "Aubade" in a dramatic context, and I thought the 'blogger' moments were hilarious if only because I could relate SINCE YELP IS MY BLOG. On the other hand, there's a REALLY GOOD REASON why Proust isn't PERFORMED, despite the valiant efforts of Marilee Talkington -- with his interminable sentences, subordinate clauses, and liberal use of the subjunctive it's fucking BORING, and I say this as someone who LOVES Proust.
Tom Stoppard says somewhere that the "theatre is a pragmatic art form," at least I think it's Stoppard, but what the fuck do I know, well at any rate I'm sure it wasn't Andrew Lloyd Weber, who has but TWO registers -- trite and platitudinous -- and the profundity of a puddle. ANYWAY, the point is that all plays are mediated by the performers and the director: it is less a decree issued from the pen of the playwright and more a collaboration between author, performers, and the audience.
On this score, Crowded Fire Theater Company is faultless. They get it. Every aspect of the performance had the patina of decay: from the props (the dirt pit, discarded rickety doors, an antique lamp) to the costumes (disheveled and seemingly pulled from a trunk) to the lighting, everything evoked a sense of lost time in the tiny crucible of the SF Playhouse. They also held a discussion after the performance where the audience was allowed to ask questions and, in a sense, become more involved with the production. Also, I unequivocally applaud them for taking a risk in choosing to stage this play and not kowtowing to the incessant demands of "accessibility." Perhaps they will produce a play from one of my favorite playwrights in the future.
Five stars for eroding MY BITTERNESS towards the theatre! I encourage you to check out "Gone" and future productions of Crowded Fire. Maybe I'll see you there, just don't expect me to say hello.
Look, I said "MAYBE," fuckers.
...Hmm. So what do you think? Allow this guy into my harem?
The link to his Yelp page is here (complete with pictures of his bare stomach, natch).