Sunday, May 01, 2005

Leave Your Eyes At Home

After this week, the idea was tempting. But I happily did not heed screenwriter/playwright Charlie Kaufman's advice on last night's pilgrimmage to Brooklyn's DUMBO shoreline area to attend two magnficent sound plays at St. Ann's Warehouse. Who wants to be eyeless when seated in front of the likes of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Steve Buscemi, John Goodman, and Marcia Gay Harden? Not to mention the Meryl Streep (left), Hope Davis, and Peter Dinklage, whose giant talent and midget physique helped make "The Station Agent" so unforgettable? The latter threesome brought down the house with "Hope Leaves The Theater," Kaufman's contributon and by far the longer of the two plays. These plays were being recorded live for broadcast on Sirius radio, and are to be performed for three nights here and three nights in London later in the month.

Kaufman (pictured left), author "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation," weaved yet another hilarious, surreal, metaphysical joyride involving a self-pitying thirtysomething single gal, a very department-store-like hosptial elevator ride, and the author's ficticious recent suicide. Confused? You'd have been laughing too hard to worry. Streep's many roles include a bitchy parody of herself giving a thorough tongue-lashing to Hope Davis, as an audience member who dares to take a cel phone call from her Mom. Hope then... leaves the theater, and we follow her home on a harrowing busride and arrive just in time for some depressing pre-sleep internet dalliance. Peter Dinklage plays the hot young actor Hope's seated next to and pines for, who finds the cel phone she drops while slinking out of the theater...

The first, shorter play is "Sawbones" by Joel and Ethan Coen, who gave us Fargo", "Blood Simple" and other light classics. This involves a radio play with a play about a frontier veterinarian (Hoffman) and a county coward (Buscemi) vying for the favors of a schoolmarm (Harden), while, listening to that story, a housewife drums up some tentative sex with an Electrolux salesman, while her blind, crippled husband (Goodman) keeps interrupting by phone to ask what's happening in the radio play about the frontier veterinarian.

That's a lot of description, but I was very enthralled. Bart invited me, and had obtained the tickets through Meryl Streep's website. The neighborhood's DUMBO acronym stands for Down Under The Manhattan Bridge, and it felt remote and otherworldly on a rainy, foggy night, among brick factories, and promenades with stunning bridge views which take you so close to the river edge - level with it, actually, that you can see and hear the waves lap against the rocks on the shore.

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