Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Fringe 2005 Ping Pong Ball Awards

The "Thick Hide" Award

To Berdahl Theater

The show description at the lottery was...

"The 3 authors of Triple Espresso performing Art."

Yes, the joke writes itself.

Yes, it was spoken aloud at the lottery. And everybody got it. And laughed.

But it's the three-man play "Art" we're talking about here (more on that below)

And c'mon, admit it. We're just jealous.

Gvien the chance, wouldn't you want to write a play that was so popular, it not only gave you an acting job for as long as you wanted, but provided steady jobs for countless other actors (not to mention all the other people a theater employs in order to run a show that long) and played continuously in cities around the country? Triple Espresso's been running for over nine years in Minneapolis. Nine years. It pretty much singlehandedly revived the fortunes of the theater building that is now called the Music Box Theater (a space that's near to my heart, since it housed the late, lamented Cricket Theater where I had my first job as a stage manager after to moving to Minneapolis.). It's been running for nearly eight years in San Diego and just opened in Green Bay, plus it's going to open runs in two theaters in LA next year.

OK, does that make it a masterpiece? No. Is it entertaining? Yeah. I'll admit it. I've seen it once myself. (It includes the kind of possible audience participation, being plucked from the audience, that frankly terrifies me, but that's my problem. A lot of people get a huge kick out of that stuff - obviously).

Michael Pearce Donley, Bill Arnold, and Bob Stromberg want to do a Fringe show, try something other than Triple Espresso. Good for them. They can certainly afford it. (And wouldn't we all like to be able to say the same?)

So give 'em a break.

And here's more on that play they plan to do...

"How would you feel about your best friend if she suddenly did something so colossally stupid, it made you doubt the very basis of the friendship? It happens in Yasmina Reza's monster international hit, Art. When an art lover buys what is in essence a pure white painting for a horse-choking sum, his best friend goes ballistic. Yet a third friend gets squeezed in the middle. Questions about the meaning of strange modern art and strange modern friendships--and how they're sometimes not all that different--fly thick in the limelight."

"This is not some irrelevant fringe production;

(Hey, watch it, buddy!)

it is a major intervention in the cultural debate of the country by people who are keen to keep the reactionary tides running. It is probably the most sustained attack on modernism yet seen on the British stage, and it represents a stern challenge to the brilliant success story of British contemporary art."--The Guardian

"Not only brings to the stage a topical debate, it makes it invigorating, touching and finally disturbing. This dark comedy, translated from the French, in sparkling form, explores its themes through a rift between friends."--Financial Times

"A remarkably wise, witty and intelligent comedy . . . has touched a universal nerve."--The Times

"Chic, short, and wickedly, perceptively funny, it's the perfect West End play."--Nick Curtis, Evening Standard

"Art, which has been translated from the French by Christopher Hampton, is filled from first curtain to ending with a dazzling array of language."--Iris Fanger, Christian Science Monitor

"It's an actor's dream, a nonstop cross-fire of crackling language, serious issues of life and art expressed in outbursts that sound like Don Rickles with a degree from the Sorbonne. Brilliantly translated by Christopher Hampton, . . . Art takes that yawny old bore, the play of ideas, and jolts it to life."--Jack Kroll, Newsweek

[To see the rest of the Ping Pong Ball Awards, click here.]

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit

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