Friday, March 21, 2008

Child-Man of La Mancha

While trying to conjure a name for a post reviewing Man of La Mancha at The DUO Theater I was reminded of Kay S. Hymowitz’s Child-Man in the Promised Land article which left an indelible mark on my brain (and which I responded to here). I decided to google Ms. Hymowitz to see if she had put together any other wildly misguided articles. Thankfully she had; including another one on her favorite subject titled Marriage and Caste, featuring this line:

Growing financial independence and changing mores not only gave women the freedom to divorce in lemming-like numbers; it also allowed them to dispense with marriage altogether and have children, Murphy Brown–style, on their own.”

This 1) is wholly contradictory to her uniquely flawed Child-Man story 2) suggests the sole blame for the spike in divorce belongs to women and 3) makes yet another reference to cheesedick pop culture, which is unequivocally the leading cause of men divorcing their wives in the United States.

Anyway, Ms. Hymowitz has got to be the dumbest contributor to the City-Journal and her idiocy is always entertaining so let’s move on.

On St. Patrick’s Day my lady friend and I holed up in a booth at a bar in Brooklyn and drank till we had forgotten our worries and created new ones. It was a good time and nice to be secluded in a crowded bar. Last night at Room 5001’s production of Man of La Mancha I had a similar feeling of seclusion amongst a crowd but the effect was more suffocating than reassuring.

Man of La Mancha is the story of 8 prisoners awaiting the inevitable and attempting to distract themselves along the way. The entirety of the play takes place within the confines of a jail cell and at times during the nearly two hour production the viewer experiences the feelings of imprisonment the prisoners are meant to bear.

In this way it can be seen as a grossly pessimistic metaphor for existence but the escapes that the distractions sometimes provide proove to be a savior to the prisoners and the audience. Man of La Mancha seems to be the rationalization for the creation of drama and in some ways it works and in some ways it doesn’t (which might just be genius).

The story is okay. This retelling substituted a man for the woman prisoner who gets raped in the original which seems more fitting. I can’t imagine many instances in the history of legal confinement when one woman has been detained with seven men. And the rape scene was certainly affecting and well acted which touches on Man of La Mancha’s strongest point.

The acting in Man of La Mancha is very very good. Justin Levine plays the lead of Miguel de Cervantes with a touch of madness and a lot of likability. Omar Perez seems larger than his stature would suggest allowing him to be fittingly menacing (I was surprised how short he was after the show), and Ricardo Perez-Gonzalez has a tremendous singing voice.

But the real star of the show is Rusty Buehler who is the play-within-a-play director as Cervantes' squire, Sancho Panza, as well as the comic relief of the show. His performance is idiosyncratic, clever and very entertaining.

On the whole, the story has highs and lows but the show was very well done.

Man of La Mancha at the DUO Theater 62 East 4th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Ave, $20 General Admission. Performances: Friday, March 21 8pm; Saturday, March 22 8pm; Sunday, March 23 3pm; Thursday, March 27 8pm; Friday, March 28 8pm; Saturday, March 29 8pm; Sunday, March 30 8pm


Put another spike in the coffin of substantive journalism. Deadline Hollywood Daily got the jump on the NYT, WaPo and others in reporting that the Associated Press is adding 21 new employees to its entertainment beat. I’m becoming more and more convinced that the only way for the fourth estate to maintain its watchdog roll will be through non-profit organizations. The paradigm has shifted and the money and interest isn’t there for real reporting anymore. (I found that link through Romenescko btw, I do not frequent Deadline Hollywood Daily).

This Lenny Dykstra article in the New Yorker is amazing for anyone who ever cared about the Mets in the 80’s, Phillies in the 90’s, baseball in any era, sports on the whole, compelling storytelling or existence in general… actually it’s not that good but it is a good read.

I really recommend checking out the White Rabbit’s Myspace page and taking a listen. They’re quite good.

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