Thursday, April 17, 2008

God's Ear

photo: Jim Baldassare

Last year, after seeing this play at 13th Street Rep, I wrote this:

"At first the use of language in Jenny Schwartz's play is exciting and bold: the people talk in nearly non-stop cliches and elliptical phrases, and sometimes repeat a sentence or an exchange with minor but meaningful variation. Initially, as we watch a married couple struggling with each other over the death of their child, it makes for thrilling theatre: the highly-stylized fractured speech is like the music of profound anguish constructed from the superficial sound bytes of everyday talk. But then other whimsical characters begin to figure into the play - a transvestite airline stewardess and The Tooth Fairy, to name two - and the expressionistic language doesn't have the same impact coming from their mouths."

While I still have those same complaints about the whole of God's Ear, now enjoying a transfer to the Vineyard Theatre with most of its team and cast intact, I must also say this: I've seen over two hundred shows since, and few have lingered in the memory as this one did. Hearing the play a second time, I was reminded how uncommon it is to encounter a new playwright whose work speaks in an exciting, truly theatrical and genuinely unique voice. Schwartz is certainly worth getting excited about and this play, although ultimately problematic, is a must-see for playgoers who are interested in bold new work.

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