Richard and I saw this play on Broadway on 10/28. There were two things that made it a must-see for me - - first, I wanted to see the play. I'm a fan of Sam Shepard and have seen so few of his things onstage. I saw the movie ages ago, starring Kim Basinger, Shepard, Randy Quaid, and Harry Dean Stanton, directed by Robert Altman. I wanted to see if the play could hold the stage.
The other draw for the show was the cast. The two leads were played by Sam Rockwell and Nina Arianda. I know Rockwell from the movies - - *Charlie's Angels*, *Confessions of a Dangerous Mind*, *Frost / Nixon*, he's done so many movies I love. Karen Miller and I saw him on Broadway a few years ago in a weird little play called *A Behanding in Spokane*. Christopher Walken was the star of that show, but Rockwell was the best thing in it. So I knew he'd do a good job in this. Arianda was an even surer bet - - Richard and I saw her in *Venus in Fur* a few years ago and she gave one of the most stunning performances I've ever seen onstage, such incredible strength and technique.
They both gave stellar performances in this play, but even more impressive, they worked so well together. They have a bone-deep familiarity with the play, they made it seem so natural. They presented the play like it was a masterpiece, and you know, maybe it is. Their acting was effortless, but they were still giving performances, you know what I mean? They were electric and completely present, and dedicated to the play and to each other. It was thrilling.
The biggest surprise of the evening was the lighting design, by Justin Townsend. The set was an ordinary box of a worn-out motel room, but it was lit in such a brilliant, poetic way. He made the lighting abstract now and then, but always in a way that served the story. Again, it was effortless but also theatrical. I'm keeping an eye out for this guy.