"Oh look," I said to Roommate as we passed the "Warning" sign as we entered the theater to see today's matinee of MAPLE & VINE. "It says partial nudity." This is one of our bazillion private jokes. I nudged him in the side and said: "Woo hoo!"
"Eh." He shrugged. "It probably means boy-butt. It usually does." And that's his standard response.
We got seated in the Bingham Theater and continued the conversation. I said: "Dude, the play is in the round. It can't mean boy-butt. You can't reasonably do boy-butt without doing boy-front. And boy-front, my friend, ain't no partial nudity."
Yes you can.
When you have an awesome theater reviewer in town, as we do with Erin Keane, it's hard to say anything new or different that the critic didn't already mention. (So, I bring you "boy-butt"-- if you can't go deeper, go lowbrow, I say.) So go look at Erin's review. It's spot on, and I second everything she said.
I loved Maple & Vine. I love when theater puts Big Ideas out there and puts those Big Ideas in really appealing, funny packages. Unlike A DEVIL AT NOON, which ran a little long, Main & Vine felt perfectly-paced. I wasn't ready to leave the people or the world when it was over.
The Big Idea of the play had to do with harried modern New Yorkers surrendering their iPads and sleep noise machines to join a "not-cult" of 1955 re-enactors. For me the Big A-ha wasn't that the modern world makes some people too fraking busy to appreciate... anything; it was that the modern world makes some people who thrive on challenge and adversity terribly, terribly bored.
I can't remember a more elaborate moving set in the Bingham. The number of set changes was staggering and led to a couple of snafoos. One of those snafoos, however, yielded the best on-stage "save," I've ever seen by a performer. When one of the set elevators actress gave Jeannine Servalles a bit of a ride, up and down, and then jolted her off of a piece of furniture-- during a particularly serious scene-- the audience howled with laughter. And she said, "See, I'm so upset I'm levitating!" Bravo, sister. Well done.
On a serious note: as someone who has suffered through the same personal tragedy that leads main characters Katha and Ryu to abandon their hectic lives, I thought the emotional toll of such an event was very well-handled and authentic. It made me root for them even more.
Go see it. This is great theater, y'all.
Oh, and Moon Off.