Saturday, November 22, 2014

Powerhouse

I went to see POWERHOUSE with my friend Val last night. It is a theatre piece about the life of composer and eccentric Raymond Scott. You would most likely know his work through its frequent usage throughout Looney Tunes cartoons.

The NYTimes gave it a rave review, but I tend to agree more with the New Yorker's review which says in part:
...the three women are relegated to the thankless roles as Scott's three wives (Wife No. 3's signature line is "I brought you a sandwich.")
In this production, stagecraft rules, with the odd result that scene changes and interludes come to life more fully than the human narrative we're expected to care about.
The costumes were almost entirely in shades of gray to give the impression you were watching events set in the mostly pre-1970s, which is the time setting for most of the play.

And interestingly, in another review in the same issue of The New Yorker, of the Bedlam Theater Company's SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, the stagecraft sounds like POWERHOUSE:
...actors moving about onstage with the fluidity equal to that of the mobile props - chairs, sofas, tables, doorways - that roll across the playing area in a kind of non-stop allemande of shifting perspectives.
In the case of POWERHOUSE, the subject himself is not especially interesting, and his relationships with his wives are pretty sad - he was always so self-absorbed. Val thought he might have been on the autism spectrum. But he almost seems consequential, thanks to the stagecraft. It was directed by Jon Levin, who was basically the star of the show in my opinion.

Here is the "Powerhouse" tune, used many many times in cartoons.

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