July 31, 2017

Theatre Review: Hir *

Hir is the name of the current play at Steppenwolf. Hir (pronounced here) is also a pronoun. It's not her, it's not him...it's hir. 
In an article in the Playbill, playwright Taylor Mac talks a lot about how there's more than one gender and how the world is changing and how our society is multi-sexual, and he tells us his personal pronoun is judy (I am not making that up), and that that is what this play is about. And I guess that's so, since he wrote it, but it seems less that to me and more about a family that is turning everything upside down in a really chaotic and repulsive way in order to fight against and obliterate the past.
The play opens on a living room/kitchen that is strewn with an immense amount of junk; on the counters, on the tables, on every available surface, piles of laundry on the floor, so much junk they can't use the front door.
"I don't do laundry any more!" the mother cries happily to her son, who's just home from the Marine Corps having been dishonorably discharged. "We don't believe in cupboards any more!"
Everything about this family and home has changed and not for the better, and it wasn't good to begin with.
There's the mother, and there's the father, who's wearing clown makeup and a fright wig, and it turns out he had a stroke and is barely with us except for grunts and inappropriate self-touching for which the mother squirts him with a spray bottle (which is a pretty funny bit because it's done so casually). And there's a sister who's no longer a sister but a transgender sibling.
And if that isn't enough Francis Guinan, who plays the father, walks around for much of the play in nothing but a diaper and, believe me, that’s not something you want to see.
I'm not sure why I stayed for the second act. It was kind of like a really gruesome accident - you want to leave but you can’t drag your eyes away.
Hir is certainly provocative, and that’s a good thing in theatre. Maybe I loved it, but I think I hated it. Good performances, tho.
Here's a video of the playwright talking about this play, and this may make you want to see it. But be warned.
One star out of five for Hir.

July 23, 2017

Movie Review: A Ghost Story *

Will someone please go see A Ghost Story and then tell me what it's all about?
Many looooooong camera shots of a house, or a landscape or a couple in bed or a fork (kidding about the fork)...so long that you could doze off (I may have) and when you wake you will be looking at the same image and nothing will have moved.
In one particular scene, which has to be seven or eight minutes long, the woman (who has no name and is played by Rooney Mara) sits on the kitchen floor and eats an entire pie, real-time pie eating, eating, eating, eating and then runs to the bathroom to throw up. I get it, it's an expression of her grief for her dead husband, but must we watch her eat the whole thing? (I hope she was able to do that scene in one take.)
Most of the story takes place in the house the no-name woman lived in with her no-name husband (Casey Affleck - what a waste of his talent, wandering around in a sheet with eye holes), and he is the ghost who stays in the house to comfort her and then to haunt a woman and her children who move in, and then to watch it being torn down, but then we see him wandering around an office building (where is that? why is he there?) and then he's on a prairie with a pioneer family.
I do not know what any of this means.
I saw this alone, and when it ended I laughed. There was a man by himself a few seats down and I looked at him and he just shrugged.
The critics love this film. I do not. One out of five stars for A Ghost Story.