Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Gay Bed & Breakfast and 3 plays

We spent a romantic weekend in San Francisco. We stayed at a charming Bed and Breakfast in the Castro called Inn on Castro. It was our first time staying there. This makes our third gay Bed and Breakfast we have vacationed with in San Francisco. Our favorite has been The Parker Guest House. We also have stayed at The Willows Bed and Breakfast Inn. We recommend any of the three. They all do a great job.

The primary reason for the getaway weekend was we had tickets for three shows. Instead of driving back and forth all weekend, we would just stay in the city.

The first show was at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. They were presenting “The Pillowman” by Martin McDonagh. The writer, Martin McDonagh, in many theatre circles is considered to be a genius. He wrote 7 plays by the time he was 27, had four of them playing at the same time in London’s West End, and received many nominations and awards. His inspiration is American crime movies. One can see the influence of David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarentino in his plays. E has seen several of his plays and together we saw “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” in New York last summer. It was one of our favorites. It is a wickedly black comedy about Irish paramilitaries, extreme violence, guns and a misunderstanding about a cat.

The Pillowman” however, just sucked. It was a waste of three hours. I only recommend it if you enjoy wallowing in nihilistic story telling. The play is without objective meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or value. It could have been a cautionary tale about the horrors of child abuse or a warning that the world is filled with evil people, but it is not. It might have made in interesting who-done-it where you are constantly tripped up by the twists and turns until the very end, but it is not. It could have been an outrageous political thriller in a totalitarian state like “The Manchurian Candidate” or psychological study of a madman, but it is not. Instead you have a play that reads like it was written by a gang of frat boys trying to gross each other out. Martin McDonagh has written better work than this.

The direction was slow and lethargic. There were moments of humor between large gaps tediousness. The lead actors (Tony Amendola, Erik, Lochtefeld, Matthew Maher and Andy Murry) did a great job with what they had. The secondary characters were undeveloped and a waste of stage time. The talented actors Nancy Carlin and Howard Swain are wasted on roles that would be better played by dress shop mannequins. If this had been a movie, it would have been released straight to video.

That evening we attended the opening night performance of New Conservatory Theatre Center’sFarm Boys” by Amy Fox and Dean Gray. The play is based on the oral history book: “Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest” by Will Fellows. The play takes several stories and combines them into one. It covers many issues such as a “Brokeback” marriage, coming out late in life, coming out as a teenager, internalized homophobia, threats and bashings from your neighbors and rural community. The story revolves around a man that unexpectedly inherits a small farm in his hometown from his first love. He returns from NYC to central Wisconsin with his current artist boyfriend. He slowly reacquaints himself with the farming lifestyle and his past. Both E and I love the production.

Sunday afternoon we attend Lamplighters Musical Theatre. First time we have seen one of their shows. Usually they perform the works of Gilbert and Sullivan. Currently they are doing Franz Lehar’s “The Merry Widow”, one of the worlds best know and popular operettas. It is a fun and silly story of a young, rich widow’s search for a new husband. We both want to go back to Lamplighters next season and see one of the Gilbert and Sullivan shows.

Tickets to “Farm Boys” and “The Merry Widow” are still available for half price on Goldstar Events. Full price tickets are also available through the theatre’s websites.

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