Theater: Studio Theatre. 1501 14th St, NW
Metro stops: Dupont Circle -Red line or U Street/Cardozo-Green line
Cost: Tickets are $30. There is a $5 dollar student discount too. They may also have half price rush tickets 30 min before the show or you can usher (more here). Also, Goldstar has $22 tickets for those of you who are not students.
Dates: Through October 18, at least
Rating: 2/5 Starving Artists
Confession: one of my greatest fears as a man who has quite unexpectedly found himself as an arts blogger, is that I’m going to say that I didn’t like something, and you will think I’m an idiot. This is not to say that I won’t give something a bad review, but there is always a reluctance. Especially with a play that might be intentionally esoteric. But I am going to bite the bullet and say it: I did not like Moonlight. I tried to like it, but I spent the whole play feeling like I was missing something. I probably was. If you know what I missed, I hope you’ll tell me about it in the comments section.
I think the major problem was writing. Moonlight was penned by the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Harold Pinter. I’ve been doing some reading on Pinter since seeing the play. I probably should have done that first, since I was not too familiar with his work. Apparently, according to the program, Pinter is a major player in the “British return to metaphor”. I wasn’t aware that they had left. My good friend BeebeR told me today that me that Pinter was the originator of the “one word sentence” and he has used his newly designed tool liberally in this work. I got the basic themes: death (clearly) and memory, betrayal, loss, and family. I got that the main character Andy (Ted van Griethuysen) is staring his own mortality straight in the face and trying to bridge the gap between himself and his estranged sons Jake (Anatol Yusef) and Fred (Tom Story). I get that Andy’s relationship with his wife, Bel (Sybil Lines) is strained; full of love and resentment. But beyond that, I was toast. I wanted to get the deeper levels: the allegory and metaphor, the deep symbolism, but it was (for fear of sounding dim) way over my head. I don’t go to the theater to be lost. I go to the theater to be pushed, and I don’t mind playing catch-up in the intermission (something this play didn’t have), but I just don’t enjoy spending the whole play feeling like I’m reading a book in a language I do not know.
The performances were good. Griethuysen and Lines were notably captivating as the aging couple facing Andy’s impending death, and the brothers played their quipy banter for a few good laughs. They seemed to be doing the best they could with this material that was, it would seem, intentionally murky.
Perhaps I will feel about Pinter how I feel about Brecht. When I go to see a Brecht play, I leave saying, “well that was very Brecht”. This is neither good nor bad, but the best Brecht is perfectly Brechtian. Maybe this play was very Pinter. I’ve got nothing to compare it to.
I hope you won’t think me dull. I really wanted to like the play. I really wanted to get it. But it just wasn’t for me. If you felt different, please tell us about it in comments.