May 06, 2005

More Skriking

I went to see The Skriker again tonight. A lot of the problems I noted in my previous post were resolved in a second viewing. The opening monologue? Despite being primed by the memorable phrase "Rumpelstiltskinesque plot" that I had seen when I glanced at the program before the show, the first time through I totally missed the fact that the first two or three minutes are essentially a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. Comparatively clear this time around. And I got more out of the rest of that too, although there were still wide swaths that I couldn't comprehend.

There was a technical thing I observed during the monologue that had been commented on after the last show, though I didn't notice it then, but it's like the reel-change dots in movies: once pointed out, you can't miss it, and it's quite annoying. Therefore, if you are planning to see this show tomorrow, again or for the first time, don't highlight the next paragraph:

The drippy sound! Gaaah! Turn it off! "Chinese water torture", indeed.

There were other things I noticed for the first time tonight, some good, some bad:

  • The men-in-black stage crew set the brakes on the hospital bed. It definitely seemed to move a lot less than it did on Wednesday. Did I have something to do with that?
  • The left side of the theatre definitely has better sight lines. That's where I sat last time, and it seemed like I saw a lot more sides of faces and backs of heads tonight. Also, when you're sitting on the right, you can see the light of the rear-projector shining through the cyc (thanks Helen!), where on the left it's blocked by the tall structure at the back of the painted stage.
  • Out of all the surreality and unreality in the show, I think I found a continuity error, if that's possible. Although Josie was supposed to have killed her baby to protect her from the Skriker, and this infanticide is what put her in the mental hospital, she makes it sound like she first met the Skriker in the mental hospital. Maybe I just misunderstood some part of that.
  • Eight. The Skriker has eight subcharacters besides the native one, and a total of ten costumes. There were at least three distinct dialects in there, possibly five.
  • When I was talking to Liz last time, she mentioned the "bar scene", and I thought, "oh, a bar, is that what that was." This time, even with that explanation, I still thought it looked more like a waiting room. Ah well.
  • Nice line I missed before: "You people are killing me, you know that?" More generally, it seems like the Skriker had a line like this every time she was "discovered" or otherwise slipped out of a subcharacter and back into her native persona.
  • But the cutest line in the whole show, perfectly delivered, which I noticed last time too but forgot to write about, was when Lily is trying to convince Josie that no time has passed, look at yourself, look at me, and Josie says: "...yes. How'd you do that?" Comic relief is way funnier in a really serious show where you aren't expecting it, you know?
  • A volcano is not a meteorological phenomenon. Neither is an earthquake.
  • I have no idea what Lily really said, but I heard it the same way both times, and it sure sounded like she wished Josie were (was) "a bag".
  • Being distracted by Black Annis made me miss one of the most important speeches in the show, I think, when Skriker (as Man) gets all apocalyptic. Oops.
  • Man, did I ever miss the shadow play where Josie shot up. Clear as day if you happen to be looking that way, but it totally passed me by before. Partially explains the subsequent scene, though I'm still not totally satisfied.

After that apocalypse speech, I'm even more unsure what to make of the Skriker. She loves babies and needs vicarious life in order to survive, but she revels in death and destruction. Is she fundamentally a predator or a parasite? She's thrilled that "this'll be the big one," but isn't she being damaged by the ongoing destruction of the environment? And I still am not sure whether her desperation and fragility are an act she throws off once she's ensnared someone, or a real condition that actually is cured when she "gets" a new victim.

I was sitting a few seats from Rachel Foresta, and her comment at intermission, and after the show, was, "I love it!" Which was a little surprising given how negative I was feeling at that point on Wednesday. Her secret? She got "so swept up in it"---in all honesty, probably the right way to really appreciate this sort of nonrealistic work, if you're not putting as much work into it as I have.

Having put in all that work, I have a revised verdict. Although I think I continue to disagree with the playwright, in the same vague, nebulous ways I mentioned last time, I have now decided that I like this show quite a lot. It succeeds both as two hours' feeling entertainment and on a more long-term intellectual level; its only failure is as two hours' thinking entertainment, which is of course something it never set out to do. (Come to think of it, it might be interesting to find out audience approval ratings broken down along the Myers-Briggs T-F axis.) In the end, it probably comes out as the best show of the schoolyear.

"When the turn of the millennium came and went without eschatological immanentization, I decided I should probably enroll in Dramatic Criticism, so that I could graduate." --Jonathan Prykop

Posted by blahedo at 11:58pm on 6 May 2005
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