Tuesday, February 5, 2013

'Clive' Review by Ted Cornwell

One of the great pleasures of living in NYC is getting to see some of the biggest names in film and television performing on stage from time to time. I’m particularly impressed by the commitment of people such as Ethan Hawke to promoting new and interesting live theater via companies like The New Group. Last weekend, I had the chance to see Hawke (along with Vincent D’Onofrio, and Joe Kazan, et.al.) in a contemporary adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s play Baal, retitled Clive. The protaganist has been transported to 1990s New York, where “Clive,” the title character, is a rock star who’s circling the drain in every sense -- emotionally, morally, and physically. The play is unrelentingly intense and bleak, but also compelling and intoxicating. And Hawke’s fiery performance is something to behold. Where anyone gets the stamina to take on a performance like that is a mystery to me. The show features some live music and inventive staging. But it’s the performances, not just from Hawke but from the rest of the cast as well, that really make it a major event to see. The new script is by Jonathan Marc Sherman, and not being familiar with the original I can’t know how faithful it is to Brecht. But it’s a show that never leaves you losing interest. I left feeling chilled by the long, cold decline of the title character. P.S. I sat in the front row, along side my friends Michael and James. I don’t think I’ve ever been slow close to the stage that I could see every vein and line in the character’s faces before. P.S. Since I haven't been here for a while, I'll add a few notes about recent reading. I finally introduced myself to the work of A.M. Homes, who I heard read at the Cornelia Street Cafe a few weeks back. Her novel, Music for Torching, read like a fusion of Richard Yates and Paul Auster – in a good way. It was dreamlike and provocative throughout, following a suburban marriage that seems to be coming apart at the seems. And recently I've picked up Fay Weldon's Rhode Island Blues, which is reminding me why I've always loved her wit and insight. Thank god she's so prolific, it seems I'll always be able to find something by Weldon that I haven't read before.

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