Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Thugs

Portland Center Stage
Posted by Followspot February 9, 2007; closes March 10, 2007

Fun while it lasted. Like Three, dead-on caricatures crafted with super-extreme meticulousness (each had fine moments, Sharonlee McLean above them all). Oddly amusing, but been there, done that. Naturalistic language interesting study; story collapsed in confusing climax. Is “Look-at-this-crazy-thing!” enough? Is beginning/middle/end old-fashioned? Effectively disturbing sound design by Jen Raynak.

19 comments:

David said...

dittto

Anonymous said...

Chris Coleman responds to Alison Hallett's review of THUGS, commenting on her being offended by gay stereotypes. Having seen it on opening night, I do want to say that Bart's shirt is not Pink, and I know pink...snap!

Just thought this might be interesting to some of those out there, because it directly relates to this show. See the link below:

http://www.portlandmercury.com/blogtown/2007/02/gays_on_stage.php

David said...

I'd say that Bart is the least successful character in the play, staying at a level of stereotype that is not so much untrue as it is less-than-interesting. There is little in Bart by which to be offended, but little, too, in which to mine discoveries.

Ben Waterhouse said...

I agree with David on both counts. I found much more of interest in the Mercedes and Mary.

Alison Hallett said...

It looked pink... sigh. Can't win 'em all.

Anonymous said...

Allison, don't worry. Someone was quibbling with color because they did not have a leg to stand on supporting a tired stereotype. We've seen enough Jack McFarlands. You were right on the money. I wonder if it would have made it better to have some butch jock or burly bear playing the same role.

Deb Lund said...

Not within the text of the play.

Here's a leg: Adam wants Bart as Bart is written. He'll be here next weekend. You can ask him yourself.

Thomas said...

But how much of what we're seeing is the playwright and how much is the collaboration from the actor, director, costume designer, etc.?

It might all be right there in the script, but if it's not, the playwright getting his world premiere is not going to tell you (at least not publicly) the choice director/actor/designer was a big mistake (not that it was, given all the other stereotypes in the play).

Ben Waterhouse said...

It's actually not the world premiere of The Thugs. It's already played in New York, at SoHo Rep. The reviews were mixed there, too.

Deb Lund said...

Adam Bock workshopped it here at JAW in '05. The actor who played Bart (Liam) is a very close friend of Adam's and his interpretation was very similar to Kelsey's.
I don't know how many of you are familiar with the process at JAW, but the playwright spends 10 days working with the actors, directors, dramaturgs et al.
Rose was the director at JAW, so I am pretty sure she was on track with what Adam had in mind.

Having been to all of the rehearsals for this production, I can honestly say that we were all encouraged to embrace our inner thug. I never heard the word "gay" used in the direction.

In my OPINION (please, note I use the word OPINION), Kelsey applied the same process that all of us did: Found those thuggish qualities within ourselvews (in his case - gosspimongering and manipulation) and inflated them around his own personal mannerisms. I can't speak for Kelsey, obviously. But I WAS there and that what I saw.

I do have a question for those of you who saw the show. Why is Bart the offensive stereotype? What about Daphne? Haven't we seen enough Barbies? OR Joey....geez! how many hipster Italian abusive boyfriends have we seen on stage or TV or the movies. I'm not picking on the actors, nor do I think anyone on this thread is. (hell no). I'm just wondering why it is that the gay guy has so many people's knickers in a twist.

Dan said...

Well Deb, I think it's probably because Barbies and hipster Italians have much less at stake. They are not fighting for fairness, legitimacy, and civil rights in a world that has not fully accepted their existence. Sure, people can hate a Barbie type, but that Barbie has very little chance of being beaten down in an alley way just for being Barbie. Perpetuating any kind of stereotypes of the groups in our culture still fighting for equality is in many ways irresponsible if not balanced or handled with care. Granted, I have not seen this portrayal of Bart in the Thugs, but I can nevertheless understand some people's concern that this is the one gay man many folks will see and say "See, this is why I hate gays." If they wind up hating the Barbie, it probably won't effect the way they vote if a marriage equality bill comes up in the near future. I'm not justifying people's reasons for disliking this show or taking such strong opposition to the charscter of Bart. I cannot speak for those people. I was only speculating as to why the "gay guy has so many people's knickers in a twist."

Deb Lund said...

Barbie stereotypes don't harm others? EVER BEEN BLONDE?

Dan said...

Deb, true I've never been blonde, but you have to admit the Barbie stereotype, though harmful no doubt as all stereotypes can be, is not as damaging. I know pretty blondes are sometimes taken less seriously, underestimated, given hateful stares by supposedly intelligent brunettes, etc. but they don't honestly face the struggle that a marginalized minority does, especially when the game is already purposefully set up to not be fair. The unfair treatment the blonde may receive is not actually authorized by law like the other is.

Deb Lund said...

Until you have seen the show, it's pointless to go any farther.
Tangents like this tend to prompt followspot to remind us to stay on topic. The production.

We can continue our discussion one on one if you like. I'm sure other readers would like me to shut up by now.

All of the characters in this play (written by a gay playwright) are unlikeable. They are THUGS.

Dan said...

Hey Deb, is there going to be a talkback with Adam when he's here next week?

sdh said...

I thought "The Thugs" was a brilliant manifestation of why we should practice the Buddhist principle of Right Speech in our lives. How things can go wrong when we don't ... the end was not a muddle IMHO, it was the clear consequence being shown to us of what happens when we practice "chatting" about juicy topics. The Boss Lady kept saying "It's nothing!" and it was ... until they made it something. And that something had real consequences that affected everyone in the office. Loved the show.

Lawrence said...

Saw it tonight--I am never one to say a show isn't worth doing, but in this case . . . well, at least somebody should have insisted the production be helf off till the script was worked out. First half hour great, beautifully observed, super funny, rhythmically wise. Then, oops, we figure out that it's all going nowhere. And start looking at our watches every 90 seconds or so. Terrific acting, though.

Bishop said...

So did playwright Adam Bock address any of these issues when he was here in town and leading some workshop or discussion or something? Anyone there?

Deb Lund said...

Actually, Adam was very pleased with what he saw. He waas excited and burst into the dressing rooms as giddy as a school girl.

We did address the issues voiced in the previous posts and he literally made a "whuuuuh?" face when told about the Bart issues. He loved Kelsey.

He talked about the NY production and how the space actually made it a different entity. Adam also made it clear how exciting it was to have two different takes on his play that totally worked. The NY production came off very serious and not comical at all. He felt it had everything to do with the space and the city.

I don't know if that answers your question, but all I can tell you is: Adam came both nights and was very pleased.