What gets under under your skin? Perhaps that loner you inexplicably love? Perhaps a strong, thought-provoking play that won't leave your mind alone? Or perhaps it's...burrowing blood-sucking aphids?
Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive needs just the right touch in staging it, a tactful but firm touch. The material can make us uncomfortable, and it must be handled with the probing honesty of Vogel's script. It gets the right touch, the probing honesty, in the current production directed by Milton Zoth at Muddy Waters Theatre.
Written by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Paula Vogel, The Mineola Twins follows the relationship of Myra and Myrna, twin sisters who work tirelessly to prove their polarizing differences, yet ultimately are unable to erase the permanence of the genetic tie that binds.
In the nearly ten years I’ve been writing theatre reviews, I don’t recall ever leaving a show not having a clue as to what I will write about it. Muddy Waters Theatre’s current showing of the first of its season of three plays by Paula Vogel, The Baltimore Waltz, was my cause for concern. The short of it is, I didn’t get it.
Eugene O'Neill created one of the masterpieces of American theatre – of world theatre – out of the agonies of his own family. His father became a wealthy matinee idol in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, made miserly by the grinding poverty of his childhood and tormented by guilt for wasting his talent on a popular melodrama. His mother became addicted to morphine after a difficult birth – O'Neill's own. His older brother never found his own way in life, hanging on as an actor in his father's company, spending his time in bars and brothels. O'Neill himself, 20 years old at the time of the play – August 1912 – had barely begun to write and was suffering from tuberculosis – not always fatal in those days, but often.
Upon walking into the Krantzberg Theater, my first thought was “Holy crap! Eugene O'Neill wrote a drawing room comedy? I thought I had stumbled into a production of The Importance of Being Ernest by mistake – which would NOT be a bad thing – I love me some Oscar Wilde, and usually O'Neill tends to be… oh, long-winded. Imagine my surprise, then, when the opening moments of Now I Ask You has a distraught young woman rushing in, putting a gun to her head and presumably pulling the trigger, a la the end of Hedda Gabler? Ah, an O'Neill tragedy after all… But, how did she get to this low point?