Stephanie, Francesca, Brian, Richard, and I saw *Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus* on 5/23/19. It's a new play written by Taylor Mac, a pseudo sequel to Shakespeare's grisliest play, *Titus Andronicus.* *Gary* is the story of three minor characters from *TA,* a clown named Gary (played by Nathan Lane), a maid named Janice (played by Kristine Nielsen), and a nurse named Carol (played by Julie White). They're all reeling from the carnage of *TA* - - Gary and Janice are enlisted to dispose of the many corpses (the stage was piled with life-size stuffed dolls), Carol was trying to figure out how to move forward after the horrific things she experienced.
I loved the play. It was maybe my favorite genre, what I refer to as a Glorious Mess. It was extremely ambitious, lots of the text was written in verse and demanded the full attention of the audience. Francesca and I both said we want to READ the play. This arch style was leavened by a bawdy, raucous injection of comedy. The balance of vaudeville shtick and high Elizabethan verse was expertly handled, the tone was consistent, it all held together. Best of all, there were a few well-chosen, quiet moments of beauty and drama. Those always packed a big punch.
Mac seemed to want to make the play deliberately too much to take in, it was over the top in many ways, by design. I found it engaging on many levels, and clearly the audience was with me - - the house wasn't very full (we were in the balcony, which appeared only 15% sold), but the audience was cackling with laughter, applauding at every opportunity, and absolutely silent in those moments of drama.
Director George C. Wolfe did an amazing job staging the play. He embraced all of the challenges of the play and made them sing. Brian was bothered that the actors spent so much of the play shouting, and it bothered me too, I was worried about the voices of the actors, having to do that eight shows a week. Richard was bothered by the accents, but I didn't have a problem with them. The only thing that bugged me were the semi-anachronistic nudges to the audience, pointing out the similarity between tyranny and anarchy of ancient Rome with the current state of the world. That didn't land well with me, it took me out of the play and made me think of MSNBC.
All three actors are seasoned hams, Mac certainly couldn't ask for a better cast. Julie White had my favorite line: "I am in the storage of Hell!" Lane, of course, is a comic genius, and it was a treat to see him doing a new comedy, after recently having seen him in *The Iceman Cometh* and *Angels in America.* Nielsen was extraordinary, especially in her lyrical monologue in front of the curtain late in the show.
I got an email from American Players Theatre earlier that day - - this is a primarily outdoor theater in Spring Green, Wisconsin. They added a smaller, indoor theater a few years ago, and this summer and fall they're doing both *A Doll's House* and *A Doll's House Part 2.* I would love to see them do a similar double bill of *Titus Andronicus* and *Gary.*