At THE MARK TAPER FORUM
I WOULD NEVER SEE IT BECAUSE: $45 for a play? And there’s only two people in it? That’s bullshit dude, I could buy so many DVDs. And beer!
THAT’S NOT FAIR BECAUSE: I’m going to spare you my Live Theatre Vs. Recorded Media lecture and point out that Center Theatre Group offers Hot Tix for most, if not all of their shows (short of some of the Douglas Plus events, which tend to be under $20 anyway).
But that doesn’t really address your problem of dropping a couple hard-earned Jacksons to see two people screw around on a stage.
SO WHY SHOULD I SEE IT?
Frankly, if you went for it, you’d see Marco Barricelli doing most of the screwing around. Olympia Dukakis doesn’t even really say anything until the end of the first act, and you know what? It’s one of the most delightful and engaging performances I’ve seen at the surprisingly intimate Mark Taper Forum.
The play offers a spectacular catalog of gallows humor while gradually rendering Barricelli’s “Kemp” as an engrossingly flawed character, through almost-entirely-one-way exchanges with Dukakis’s “Grace.” Gifted with momentum by the vignette-style scenes bookended by blackouts, “Vigil” slowly comes to life inside a curiously catawampus set stained and littered by the weight of years. The peculiar music, atmospheric lighting and antiquated - and, shall we say, conveniently unisex - costuming all contribute to the vague sensation that something is not quite right here.
WHAT AREN’T YOU TELLING ME?
Parking in the Music Center is still a bummer. I think it’s up to $12; My companion and I took the rail in to skip over that whole hassle. Most likely, you’ll probably drive, so there are plenty of satellite lots for $5 or $6 that are only a few blocks away.
My favorite thing to do in that situation is pop downtown early and explore the fashion district or hit up some of the restaurants and bars in the area, like my personal fave, Bottega Louie. I usually get a fruit tart and one of those toffee chocolate bars from the front café/patisserie, although the few times I’ve eaten in the dining room, I’ve found their entrees are decently priced for the quality and food you get.
Also, I mentioned the gallows humor earlier. Watching this show with a lot of folks well into their later years was faintly uncomfortable, yet entertaining in a deeply perverse way. If you’ve been recently bereaved or have relatives of fading health, it may hit a little too close to home. Of course, it may also give you some valuable giggle time in the face of the most human act of all, especially what a mess they make of it.
SO WHAT DID YOU THINK?
I deeply enjoyed this show. I’m proud to say my sense of humor is a little peculiar; I found myself laughing out loud at much of the dialog. Despite Kemp’s heavy-handed, insensitive protestations, I found him an ultimately endearing rascal, especially by the end of the show. I acknowledge the first half is largely repetitive, although I suggest that without the measured, existential drilling for comedy gold through the core sentiment of the first act, it would far too heavy-handed to transition to the emotional weight of the second. Watch for the slow development of familiarity between these two disconnected individuals. Watch the careful build of frustration against familial adoration. Finally, time how long it takes for you to figure it out (proud to say I was laughing well before everybody else).
DISCLOSURE: I’m totally a Center Theatre Group fanboy, as I often work at the Kirk Douglas and make it a point to see everything I can at all three of the theatres. I’m often critical of the couples-with-drama trend I’ve seen in a bunch of the shows over the last two seasons, but I generally don’t have bad things to say. For more opinion, check out the Bitter Lemons review page for Vigil. One of those reviews took Critique of the Week.
- whywouldiseethat posted this