OMG OMG OMG!! So, my amazingly hilarious friend Ruth Pennebaker once did this great piece for KUT about how sick she is of the "Austin standing ovation"-- by which she meant that you can't see a show in this town without being peer pressured into standing up and clapping at the end, even if you were really just, you know, standing up because you were in a hurry to leave. Been there. But I am here to tell you that tonight I saw Body Awareness, which just opened at Hyde Park Theatre and that ovation we gave at the end? Oh, we were on our feet fast and we were serious. I mean THIS SHOW IS FUCKING FANTASTIC PEOPLE.
Wait, in case I did not make myself clear: I LOVE IT I LOVE IT I LOVE IT. And I love it so much that I am actually going to joyfully break down and BUY tickets to see it again. I am utterly spoiled with review tickets to lots and lots of shows. This one I'm happy to pay to see a second time. And maybe a third time and a fourth time. Kenny-- if you're reading this (and I know you are) YOU HAVE GOT TO HOLD THIS ONE OVER. Please!
As at least three of the six of you, my wonderful dedicated readers, know, I am, as a matter of course, highly opposed to anything that even hints at spoiler behavior in reviews. Seeing Body Awareness has kicked my anti-spoiler into uber high gear. I mean, I do not want to tell you ONE SINGLE THING about the characters, plot, arc, etc. I can say that, as ever at HPT, the set is fab-- kudos to Mark Pickell who, if I ever redo my house, I will be hiring. And I can say, in what seems like a change for artistic director Ken Webster (See: Kenny, above), this time around there is no sign of a trailer, no sudden violence, and not even a touch of insurance fraud. (I'm just razzing you, K.)
What we do have is one superbly crafted play by Annie Baker. Weighing in at a light 93 minutes, BA moves at a wonderfully brisk-ish (but not too brisk) pace. Emily Erington plays Phyllis, Katherine Catmull plays Joyce, and Stephen Mercantel plays Jared. Kenneth Wayne Bradley is slated to play Frank for the rest of the run, but the show I saw featured Ken Webster (See: Ken Webster; Kenny, K above) in this role, as KWB is apparently off shooting Rocky XIII or something. I'm sure KWB is going to do great as Frank-- something I will confirm when I see the show again and again (and again). But let me say here, that getting a chance to see Ken Webster in the role, and to see him onstage with Katherine Catmull, was a treat beyond treat. Not only are these two of Austin's greatest actors, they're also married, which added a great subtext for those of us aware of this fact. HOLY CRAP they were great. And so was Erington, who brilliantly brilliantly portrays a character who...
Well dammit, I told you: I'M NOT TELLING YOU.
And I'm not telling you anything about Mercantel's portrayal of Jared other than the fact that he, too, blew me out of the water.
Okay, so what can I tell you to convince you? Well, there's always my good word, so that's something. What if I tell you who I think will most enjoy the show? I know, I'll make a list. If any of the following pertain to you, you must absolutely not miss it:
You are a lesbian.
You are a straight man.
You are a straight woman.
You are bisexual.
You are an outsider.
You are an insider.
You are a mother.
You have a mother.
You enjoy armchair psychology.
You like to diagnose loved ones.
You are in a relationship.
You are not in a relationship.
You have gone to college.
You have decided college is for imbeciles.
You like electric toothbrushes.
You are opposed to electric toothbrushes.
You are a Jew.
You are Goyim.
You know a little Hebrew.
You enjoy rituals.
You find rituals preposterous.
You are PC but don't like the term PC.
You are not PC and you hate PC people.
You enjoy naked women.
Naked women offend you.
Dysfunction makes you giddy.
I could go on, but you get the picture. Please take my word for it. I see plays an awful lot in this town, many of them really good, some of them occasionally very bad. This one is my favorite so far for 2010, and I have a strong hunch Body Awareness will hold its place at the top of my list for the rest of the year.
April 8 - May 8, 2010 @ HPT. Click here for tickets or call 479-PLAY.