The Unbearable Banishment: That Goddamn Ethan Hawke

Thursday, December 30, 2010

That Goddamn Ethan Hawke

I saw The New Group’s production of Blood From a Stone. It’s billed as a dark comedy/drama about a dysfunctional family but let me tell you, it’s about 10 parts comedy to 90 parts drama. And "dysfunctional" is too gentle, too clinical a term, to describe the goings on.

It’s in previews and the word on the street is that, at a bit over three hours, it runs too long and they’re trying to pare it down before opening night. I have no idea what people are complaining about. It was so well acted and so compelling that I didn’t look at my watch once. It’s down to about 2:45 and it makes me wonder what I missed.

Comparisons to the horrible family in Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County are inevitable but this sort of thing goes back to Tennessee Williams and even further than that. This family is vintage blue collar bankrupt, living in a house that is, quite literally, falling apart. It's a different spin on an often-told story.

The entire cast is strong although as the insane ball of anger father, Gordon Clapp (of NYPD Blue) seemed like he was acting at times. Daphne Rubin-Vega (Rent original cast) has exactly one scene but it’s so sexually charged that it impacts the rest of the story. As the scene opens, she’s sans clothes but the lights are so dim that you don’t see any of her goodies, which I’m a little upset about.

But that goddamn Ethan Hawke. That son-of-a-bitch is The Man. He was on stage for pretty much the entire 2:45 and he drove that bus just where it needed to go. He’s a master of dialog and reaction. During the intermission, I read the playbill and his credits include two Academy Award nominations, one of them as a writer. Also, he directed a play that was based on one of his two novels. Oh, and the ladies seem to like his look. (Edit: see first comment, for instance). Bastard. That guy makes me question my choices and feel like an underachiever.

* * *

This is the last play I'll see this year. 12 months. 41 plays. It could be worse. It could be whiskey and whores.



Blogger Nimpipi said...

Ha! I feel so vindicated for MY choices. I should've outgrown schoolgirl crushes but I lu-hu-r-ve Ethan Hawke! Before Sunrise, Before Sunset... that Goddamn Ethan Hawke indeed!

*swoon swoon*

And you SAW him. LIVE! I'm just going to go somewhere and shriek.

December 30, 2010 at 7:16 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Nimpipi: Not only did I see him live, but we were in the front row of a very small theater. I could have stood up and punched him in the nuts, which I might do if I ever see him on the street.

December 30, 2010 at 7:22 AM  
Anonymous daisyfae said...

how long is this one running? my kinda theater... not that "punching in the nuts" part. i've been on stage. i don't do 'audience participation' shows...

December 30, 2010 at 7:43 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Daisy: It's supposed to be a limited engagement and only run to February 5th but you know how that goes. A few good reviews, some sold out shows and all of sudden the "limited engagement" isn't so limited. I would NOT recommend this show for everybody because it's not a happy night in the theater, but I think you'd really enjoy it.

December 30, 2010 at 7:49 AM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

That sounds like my kinda show. I love the deep, dark intensity of some shows.

I remember the very first live play I saw (other than school stuff) was 'Equus' in the mid 70s here in Winnipeg. The only cast name I recall is Len Cariou (he's from here, you know - and I dated his nephew for a while a few years back) but it was deep, dark and intense... but very well done!

December 30, 2010 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger Eryl said...

Right, that's it, I'm moving to goddamn New York.

December 30, 2010 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Ponita: I know who Len Cariou is and I think seeing him in "Equus" would have been a great show! Did you know that Daniel Radcliffe did "Equus" on Broadway last season? Dropped his pants and all. (I didn't see it.)

Eryl: Well, that's all fine and good but you'd better bring a big duffel bag stuffed with cash. It takes a lot to set up here. I was chased right the hell out of town to New Jersey because I couldn't afford it anymore.

December 30, 2010 at 6:58 PM  
Blogger Kono said...

I don't know shit about theater but i do know good writing and i know that you won't find any of it in Ethan Hawke's novels, pure shit mainly published because of the the name on the cover, ala James Franco, and i actually like EH as an actor, who knows maybe directing and playwriting are his calling but don't waste your money on his "fiction".

December 30, 2010 at 7:22 PM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

Yeah, I knew Radcliffe did 'Equus'... and seeing the nude stuff as a teenager (I was in high school - our entire English class went, along with our teacher) was pretty wild! Did he get good reviews?

December 31, 2010 at 12:47 AM  
Anonymous nursemyra said...


December 31, 2010 at 1:58 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

I really envy you your theatre life.
I saw Diana Rigg in 'Eloise and Abelard' in the nuddy (fifties/ sixties?) and saw as much or as little as you - clever lighting - but was perhaps a shade less disappointed.
Ethan sounds great. Wasn't he married to someone. Something yellow?

December 31, 2010 at 4:47 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

God that sounds awful! I mean someone wearing a yellow track suit. Help!

December 31, 2010 at 4:50 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Kono: I don't know about that. His novels received good notices. I'm not ready to damn them just because the author is famous. I'll read one first.

Ponita: He got *excellent* reviews! He's coming back to Broadway in a couple months to do the comedy "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."

Nurse: It's all waiting here for you.

Pat: Man, I would have loved to see Diana Rigg without any clothes on. In her prime. And, yes, now that you mention it, he was once married to Uma Thurman. What a life!!!!

December 31, 2010 at 6:30 AM  
Blogger Kono said...

i tried to read one, nuff said, and most critics don't know their elbow from their asshole, i see them swoon all the time over things that are complete and utter shit, of course it's all subjective really, you and i are both allowed to like what we like but if i remember correctly the critics thought one Henry Charles Bukowski was garbage. I don't damn fame i damn weak and stale writing, maybe i let Hank influence me to much?

December 31, 2010 at 8:05 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Kono: Well, then, you're a step ahead of me because I've never been compelled to read any of Hawke's stuff. (Or James Franco, for that matter.) The Bukowski analogy is an excellent one. A well played volley.

December 31, 2010 at 8:23 AM  
Blogger Ellie said...

Going out with a bang. Hurrah!

Warmest wishes in 2011.

December 31, 2010 at 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What? No whisky and whores at all? Are you some kind of an aesthetic ascetic?

December 31, 2010 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Thanks you, Ellie. And to you, too. I enjoy your missives tremendously.

kykn: Whiskey and whores went out the back door when "I do" walked in the front door.

December 31, 2010 at 10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

41 plays. So jealous!

December 31, 2010 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger Kono said...

I'll read anything really, i'm like a lit whore, only read Franco cuz he had a story in a magazine, read Hawke standing in a bookstore, didn't pay for any of it, have a happy new year my good sir.

December 31, 2010 at 2:57 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Dolce: Don't be jealous. I hang my cross for plenty of other things.

Kono: You, too. Keep your head down and ignore the taps on your shoulder.

December 31, 2010 at 3:21 PM  

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