Flashback Friday - - *The Room,* Nov 2015
Here's my review of The Wooster Group's production of Harold Pinter's *The Room.* As often happens, the funniest line belongs to my hubby.
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The other morning I was checking a discount ticket website and saw that they had tickets for *The Room.*
ME: Sweetie, do we have any plans tonight?
ME: I'm thinking of going to a show.
ME: Of course I'm inviting you, but I'm pretty sure you won't be interested.
RICHARD: Try me. What is it.
ME: The Wooster Group. Doing Harold Pinter.
RICHARD: That would be a No piled on top of a No.
This show was custom-made for me - - not only was it two things I love, the Wooster and the Pinter, it was a 7:30 curtain, and it was 50 minutes long. Yes, under an hour! Makes my heart sing. It was at The Performing Garage, a tiny theater in SoHo. The cutest neighborhood in town, the cobblestone streets and old buildings seem so Old New York to me. It was directed by Elizabeth LeCompte, one of the founders of the Wooster Group. It had her signature playfulness - - she respects the source and is inspired by it, but also does whatever wacky thing comes to mind.
The greatest performance in the show was by Kate Valk, an actor I've seen in many Wooster productions. Her delivery of the dialogue is the most thrilling thing about her, she totally nails the Wooster tone: flat but expressive. Suzzy Roche had one of the supporting roles, she was wonderful.
But the most memorable thing about the show as the guy sitting next to me. He was handsome-ish, probably somewhere around 70. The risers for the seats were very steep, so even though the theater was small, it seemed like we were high up and relatively far away. He sat down and said, "Who would believe that there would be a second balcony in this tiny theater on Wooster Street." A funny remark, and I chuckled, but I ordinarily do not like to engage with strangers. You never know who that person is or what they're going to do. He asked me a few questions and I answered him, so as not to be rude. Eventually I kinda got the picture that he was pretty cool, so I decided why the hell not.
We noticed a few famous people in the audience: he pointed out Mark Morris, I pointed out Scott Shepherd, he pointed out Mary Beth Peil.
ME: Oh, she's wonderful. I saw her in *Follies*, and *Nine*, and *Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown*, which was so awful.
HIM: But there were some great moments in it.
ME: Yes, that's what made it so heart-breaking. There was so much talent involved.
HIM: I saw it in previews and then decided to go back and see it again, because I heard that they were making lots of changes. They did make lots of changes, and none of them were good.
We talked about other Pinter plays we had seen.
ME: Did you see the recent revival of *Betrayal*?
HIM: I think so. Was it with Juliette Binoche?
ME: No, that was the Broadway production about fifteen years ago, with her and Liev Schreiber. I'm asking about the one from about two years ago, with Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz. Directed by Mike Nichols.
HIM: Oh yes - - I didn't see that. I hope you'll forgive me for saying this. But I saw the very first performance, the premiere of the play. In London. With Penelope Wilton and Michael Gambon.
ME: Oh wow.
HIM: It was brilliant.
ME: I'm sure it was. And I do forgive you.
He asked for my help getting down those steep stairs. I asked if he wanted to take my arm, and he said no, he'd prefer to walk behind me with his hand on my shoulder. We both made it down the stairs without incident. We walked to the A train together, him going to Brooklyn and me going downtown. We shook hands, introduced ourselves (his name is Martin), and said what a pleasure it was talking with each other. I'll keep my eyes peeled for him at BAM - - he told me he had spent $1700 on his subscription for the winter/spring season. Sweet Jesus.