Despite the record-low number of posts on this blog since I started it, I’ve been continuing to consume and process various kinds of experiences. I went to a number of very interesting Arts Festival shows after Playing the Dane, and I’ve watched some movies, and read some books.
Leo was amazing – performance art at its best. My pithy summary is that Playing the Dane talked philosophy, Leo was philosophical. It asked questions about space, about the confines of reality, about how we interact with it – and if you’re not pretentious enough to recognise those implicit questions, it was entertaining on the simplistic level of dance and physical comedy.
Beautiful Burnout was even more astonishing. The performance was inventive and dynamic; again, I could only think that it challenged the format of a play just as PTD hoped to, and it was devastatingly powerful. I didn’t hear much chatter at all after the show, everyone quietly filed out looking for a bit of space to pick up the battered emotions and disengage from the visceral performance. I haven’t been so affected by a production since Ivan took me to Antigone all those years ago.
I wished I’d had more time and money to go to Festival shows, but I also feel like any more would have challenged my ability to arrive at each without the weight of the last.
I have also finished watching the first two seasons of Boardwalk Empire, which I briefly discussed here in comparison to Hung and Californication. I’ve been struggling to escape comparing it to The Sopranos. I have a deep ambivalence about the Sopranos, because for every thing that I liked about it, there was something that bugged me – I didn’t end up watching the whole thing because I just got sick of the cycle of introducing a major season character to cross Tony and get murdered.
Watching Boardwalk Empire helped me understand the other crucial thing which I had hated, but below my conscious radar – the deliberate obliviousness of the characters. None of them really ever seemed to have any glimmer of self-awareness; not unintentional on a creative level, I’m sure, given the presence and prominence of psychoanalysis in the show. In comparison, I felt like the biggest problem of most characters in BE was not their own self-delusions, but the difficulties of externalising what they know, the difficulties of negotiating through the clash of expectations… the stuff of life, rather than some sad psychopathic melodrama.
The other interesting thing I’ve consumed was on Vulture.com, which recently had a series of opinion pieces called the Drama Derby to pick the greatest TV show of the last 25 years. I thought that while these were uneven, and I hadn’t seen all of the shows, that one way or another, they ended up making a large number of interesting critical points and using some quite good critical thinking in places; and of course they rightfully declared The Wire to be the winner.