Thursday, March 26, 2009

"It May Be a Surprise to You, But It's Been on My Mind for Weeks"

I noticed something a little while ago that is either a brilliant inside joke or a funny coincidence.

It might just be a boring piece of theatre trivia that amuses only me. It might be because it is. But just in case no one else caught this, I'm calling dibs on...

The Goodman Theatre recently announced their 2009/2010 season and the first play they are producing is a contemporary adaptation of the Marx Brothers play, Animal Crackers.

Now, when I see the words "contemporary adaptation" in a sentence describing an upcoming production of a Marx Brothers play, I immediately get that pre-diarrhea feeling. But after that passed, I remembered...

Animal Crackers has a very famous scene where Groucho is flirting / proposing marriage / trying to score with both Margaret Dumont (Mrs. Rittenhouse) and Margaret Irving (Mrs. Whitehead).

At one point, he says that, "If I were Eugene O'Neill, I could tell you what I really think of you two," and then, he steps out of the scene to deliver an O'Neill soliloquy. Or rather, a Groucho Marx soliloquy written in the style of Eugene O'Neill. Incredibly funny.

One of Groucho's asides is...

"This would be a better world for children if the parents had to eat the spinach."

But just as he steps out of the scene the first time, he turns to the Margarets and says, "Pardon me while I have a strange interlude."

It's a brilliant Groucho Marx line because Strange Interlude is the title of an experimental Eugene O'Neill play in which the characters break into soliloquies throughout the play, over and over.

A play with soliloquies filling its nine - - count 'em, NINE! - - acts, which means that the characters in this play walk out of the scene and talk to themselves... or us... or both... for nearly SIX HOURS!

Yep, that's the play's running time. Six hours. Well, that's what it was at the Goodman, anyway. That was the production where some audience member sitting in the balcony on opening night yelled towards the stage, "Why are you butchering this play, this beautiful play?"

So, after the Goodman Theatre's poorly received production of Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude, they will open their next season with Animal Crackers, which contains a scene that makes fun of Strange Interlude and all those damn soliloquies, that may or may not have been butchered.

Yep, that's it. I know it's not the mossy knoll or anything, but isn't that an interesting little coincidence? Or a fun something the Goodman slipped into their season?

Or is this just proof that, with my double major in theatre and psychology, I could never write a mystery thriller like The Da Vinci Code. Now, Diary of a Mad Playwright? I could do that! AND suspense-less!

P.S. Yes, I mentioned Diary of a Mad Playwright.

No, my reference level couldn't get gayer even if Rip Taylor showered me with confetti and Liberace played chopsticks on my ass.


yinyang said...

You double-majored in theatre and psychology? Interesting.

yellowdog granny said...

i love groucho marx..I think i have some of his books in my collection of books on hollywood, movies,tv, etc. I thik one of them is a collection of letters...they don't make em' like groucho anymore.

Java said...

You crack me up!

I think it's a very interesting coincidence, this close staging of plays. Did Groucho learn those lines "Pardon me... strange interlude" or did he ad-lib? The way Groucho delivers lines like that it sounds ad libbed, but I don't really know.

mossy knoll? Don't you mean "grassy mole?" Or maybe "moosey foal?"

Prospero said...

"...Liberace played chopsticks on my ass."

Oh, and you wonder why I love you!

I've always wanted to direct "Room Service," but I'm so afraid of all the damned food!

Palm Springs Savant said...

that Liberace comment has a great mental image of you Stephen. As fas as Groucho goes, I actually think he was a funny bugger!