fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall

Anybody who bothers reading what I have to say about theatre has probably noticed that I mostly go to musicals. But Annie Hall has always been one of my favorite movies (or at least favorite American-made movies that don't involve vampires) and this play at Theater J got very good reviews, so I figured I'd take the chance.

The plot involves Henry a writer trying to make it in New York. Hitting on the idea of a musical version of Annie Hall he stalks the Producer's Daughter and uses her to get to the Tortured Genius, who is already at work on just such a thing. (The show includes his performance of a wonderfully terrible sample song.) There are other things going on, including his relationships with his girlfriend, Annie, and his composer partner, Will. Will is content to do nothing but watch TV and smoke dope, while Annie is trying to make it as an actress, a goal that uses up her energy so thoroughly that she and Henry no longer have sex.

There are some fairly funny lines, but this is still pretty much the sort of thing that's only going to do well at fringe festivals. There were two things which drove me up the wall. First, the language was a real problem. All of the characters use the f-word about every four words (which is, I suppose, not atypical of people in their 20's judging from conversations I overhear on the metro). They also call everyone "dude," which I found really grating. I admit I use "guys" as a gender-neutral term, so I'm not sure why calling a woman "dude" bugged me so much. The other thing that annoyed me (and I'm not quite sure why it did) had to do with posture. Nobody in the show actually sits in a chair. They sort of pose on top of chairs, looking uncomfortably ready to pounce. I'm not sure if this was intentional, but it was weird, especially as it meant that they take their shoes off and put them on a lot.

The performances were a high point, especially Josh Lefkowitz as Henry, who he plays somewhat as if he were Ira Glass. (There are a lot of pop culture references, by the way, many of which I am sure I missed.) I also thought that Maureen Rohn as the Producer's Daughter did a fine job with a rather odd role.

Afterwards, there was a discussion with Ari Roth (artistic director of Theater J), Bob Mondello (film critic and NPR commentator), and a professor from American University whose name I didn't catch. The subject was "Woody's Zeitgeist: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow." Bottom line is that everybody thinks Woody Allen is a genius and that Annie Hall was among his best work. There were also a surprising number of people in the audience who didn't know what "zeitgeist" means.

Overall, it was an interesting afternoon, but I'm not sure my time might not have been better spent catching up on household stuff.
Tags: theatre

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