Monday, March 3, 2014

Not an Oscars™ Post

Generally, I don't watch the Oscars™. I read about the winners the next day, in the paper or on the internet. I catch up with the highlights thanks to the miracle of YouTube.

Your humble PC worked on Oscar coverage with Entertainment Tonight, a few times. Watching while sitting next to Leonard Maltin and Steven "Cojo" Cojocaru kind of ruins watching at home for life.

For a properly snarky Oscar™ review from someone who actually watched it, go on over to Ken Levine's blog. Enjoy.

Instead of staying home and watching, Mrs Blog and I attended a play.

But, let me back up a bit.

A few weeks ago we attended a production of "God of Carnage."

I went into it not knowing a whole lot about it except that the original run was very successful, critically acclaimed and, on Broadway, it won a Tony™ award for best comedy.

The play's original cast, on Broadway and in Los Angeles, was Jeff Daniels, James Gandolfini, Hope Davis and Marcia Gay Harden.

Before the L.A. run had even closed, a movie version entitled, simply, "Carnage", starring Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christopher Waltz, John C. Reilly came out in theaters.

Our production, being what it was, starred four actors whose names you would not know, but whose faces brought up the question, "Didn't I see him on last week's episode of "C.S.I.?"

I had high expectations.

A quick synopsis...

Two married couples meet in a living room to discuss a playground incident between their sons.

Polite conversation quickly devolves into argument. Add alcohol, a cell phone and a bit of food poisoning to the mix and civilized discourse becomes a free-for-all. Alliances shift, then shift again, couple against couple, husbands against wives, a couple of philosophical spouse swaps, until, after 90 relentless minutes, the whole thing comes to an abrupt end.

As if the playwright realized that he had lost control of the story and just pulled the plug.

Did I mention that this was a comedy?

The PC is the last person to criticize something for it's cynicism, but damn! "God of Carnage" puts the "dark" in "dark comedy."

Don't get me wrong, it had it's moments. Some funny lines and a few genuine dollops of "meaning of life" stuff.

Oh. And projectile vomiting.

In the end, "GoC" played like a 21st century, suburban, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?"

I was disappointed.

Which brings us to last night.

"Bunny Bunny: A Sort of Romantic Comedy" had much in common with "GoC."

A minimal cast, (two main characters and one actor playing "everyone else,") a minimalist set, little action and much conversation.

And talk of vomiting. But, no special effects to that end.

And that is where the comparison ends.

"Bunny Bunny" is original "Saturday Night Live" writer Alan Zweibel's memoir of his relationship with his best friend (and probably "soul mate" if there is such a thing...)

                                                                      Gilda Radner.

Like "GoC," there was talk, there was yelling, there were tears.

Unlike "GoC," there was also genuine laughter and genuine love.

"Bunny Bunny" had what "God of Carnage" didn't.

"Bunny Bunny" had heart.

One of their last conversations went like this...
Gilda: Why didn't we ever get married?

Alan: I think we just forgot to.
 And closure.

No spoiler alert here, if you are a person of certain age.

Gilda died after a battle with ovarian cancer in 1989.

In a scene late in the play, Alan is donating blood for Gilda's transfusion.
The doctor hands Alan a notepad and pen and tells him that Gilda likes to have her blood donors write a note to be taped to the blood bag, so she can think about that person while she receives the transfusion.

After some thought, he writes...
"Gilbert, (an inside nickname, between them,) I always knew, one way or another, I would eventually get some of my fluids inside you."
(That is funnier and more heartwarming in context than it is here.)

Alan's memoir pulls off the seemingly impossible.

I, and the audience I was with, were charmed and enchanted.

We were reminded of what a treasure Gilda was.

And we laughed and laughed.

All the while knowing that the final ten minutes was going to deliver a gut punch.

And there is the difference.

As the lights went up at the end of "GoC," we wondered about what we had just endured.

As the cast of "Bunny Bunny" took their bows, we were wiping the tears from our cheeks, feeling all the while that we had shared a special experience.

Last night was closing night. So I can't tell you to run to The Falcon Theater in Toluca Lake, to see it. But, if you ever get a chance to catch a production in the future, take it.

Before I wrap this up, I do feel that I should mention the cast.

Erin Pineda as Gilda did not just bear a striking resemblance to her. She embodied all that was amazing about the comedienne.

Unless you are a hopeless comedy nerd, like me, you would not know that Brendan Hunt was just as perfect as Alan.

And a special shout out to Tom Fonnss who played "Everybody Else."
From the waiter who inspired an SNL sketch to a cab driver, a throng of Gilda fans, a director and a doctor and, who, with a pair of glasses became John Lennon, and with a Willy Wonka costume was the embodiment of Gilda's second husband, Gene Wilder.

Wow! Well done, sir!

Bravo and Brava to all of you!

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