Checking out the Flea

Wednesday, December 26, 2007 Leave a Comment

Hey everyone, it's Joe, your friendly neighborhood "that guy". I haven't blogged here before. Know why? Because I've been busy. But now here I am at work wondering why I didn't just take this week off.


Friday the 21st I was treated along with my ever lovin' and ever loved gal, Felicia Hudson to two tickets to Will Eno's"Oh the Humanity! and Other Exclamations" down at the Flea starring Brian Hutchison and Marissa Tomei.

The Flea and it's Bats by the way, are a righteous gang. Good on them. And good on Indie Theater. Though I don't know how Indie they still are... Brian Hutchison and Marissa Tomei dude. Really? Shoot. I'm gonna get Rutger Hauer to be in a Flux show. Anyway...

Let me start by saying these aren't tickets I can even really afford. But hey, it was a gift and far be it from me to pass up a show. Let me continue by saying that I would basically sit and watch Marissa Tomei read a phone book. Not particularly because it would be good drama, but because frankly, I love Marissa Tomei. I would however watch Brian Hutchison read sections from a phone book because I'm confident he'd find a way to make it compelling drama.

Wait. Let me qualify that statement, because from a rhetorical standpoint, it implies that Tomei can't act but is pretty, and Will Eno's writing is like a phone book. Both implications would be false. Marissa Tomei can act, and in this piece she shines, and with Will Eno's scripts for these five short plays, it's not something just a pretty face can do.

As an addendum to that, I confirm that Brian Hutchison is awesome, however I don't know if he's hot. I'm a terrible judge of that.

The piece is five short plays - some monologues - that deal with a very real sense of metaphysical discontent. At times, they are disturbing and at times they are simply amusing, but throughout both actors carry the weight of characters either lost and desperately searching or simply confused by the way the world has moved around them and what they are supposed to do about it.

The first piece features Hutchison as a coach at a press conference talking about what a bad year it was. It evolves into something far more gripping and human and we are given glimpses - startlingly deep ones at that - into the personal tragedy of a man who has lost everything (and not just the unnamed sporting events). He's come to a low point, and as he puts it "couldn't coach a gallon of water out of a paper bag." I found myself wondering if this is what those god awful "behind the scenes" documentaries about sports figures are trying to capture when they talk about a hard year. A building year. If only life was this compelling.

Next up are two people filming themselves for some sort of dating set up - and frankly, the prospect of dating either of them is staggeringly depressing. Again though, I felt that this is all the stuff we don't get to hear or see because of how people present themselves. It was honest instead. All of the insecurities and strangeness of the internal monologue are laid bare for us. Yeah. I'd date Marissa Tomei (assuming Felicia were to dump me of course) but I wouldn't go near the character she brought to vividly disorienting life. Yikes. Hutchison somehow seems more affably dispondent, but still sort of "off" and I'm glad that I'm off the dating scene if it has become that odd.

Tomei's following monologue seemed to follow on the theme of a metaphysical questioning about what "it" all means as she protrayed an airline spokeswoman having to break the news about a fatal jet liner crash. While struggling to impart sympathy and meaning to a senseless accident, she very expertly opens up vast territory that calls into question why an airplane crash might or might not be any less senseless tragic than say her father dying in his armchair one afternoon. Death, it seems is a massive mystery to many of us and the vehicle (no pun intended) might be really irrelevant. Unless of course, it was your loved one who was on the plance.

The next part was to me, the best. Two photographers discuss an old classic Spanish American war picture called the Bully Composition, I think, and address us directly as an audience as they question the thoughts behind each of the soldiers. We never see the photo, and as they speak with us, they are prepping to photograph the audience - in an effort to document a single instant of life and self reflection. I'm glad they didn't take a picture though. I look pasty when I contemplate my own mortality and my place in an infinite, chaotic universe.

That's why I study necromancy.

The last piece, well, I just didn't get it. If anyone has seen this piece and can explain it to me, please help. Meta-theater if it's not obvious to me, weirds me out. Or maybe it was the bearded hipster guy just sort of standing there weirding me out. I just didn't get it.

Hear me, Will Eno! The battle is yours, but I will comprehend your play yet!


  • Anonymous said:  

    I actually had Marisa Tomei come over the other night just to read the phone book. I felt awkward about it, but how do you say no to celebrity friends when they want to spend time with you? That's just disrespectful of the institution of celebrity. And you should really hear what she did with J through L.

  • Isaiah Tanenbaum said:  

    I once almost ran over Marisa Tomei with my bicycle. She is short.

  • Anonymous said:  

    I found the last piece to be the most compelling of the five - maybe because the third guy came in on those other two. Kudos to Will Eno - glad that his work is doing so well - but I found his writing to be so self-congratulatory that he needs to get out of the city and find some people who aren't theater people to hang out with for a while. After so much time spent staring at his navel, perhaps he just needs a Q-tip.