From my month abroad, continued from Part 1.


6/11/2018 7:30 PM – Red – Alfred Molina was amazing and natural and authoritative, the actor playing his assistant felt very actorly and choreographed. Watching them paint was mesmerizing. John Logan gives great speech. Powerful, intimate two-person drama.


6/12/2018 7:30 PM – The VOID – Star Wars VR Secrets of the Empire – this is the same company that has the Ghostbusters VR experience at Madam Tussaud’s. This one is better; four of you work together as undercover storm troopers with some great body tracking. We could even get all military and tap shoulders/use hand signals, move in formation, etc. We shot a lot of storm troopers (like over 100), and that became tiresome fast. I had to solve a puzzle under pressure while my team warded off attackers and that was an exciting moment of teamwork. Darth Vader walked towards us deflecting all of our shots and that was terrifying. Lava felt super warm and smelled like some kind of beet soup.


6/13/2018 6:00 PM – Blade Runner Secret Cinema – oh my god do we have secret cinema in America? This was amazing… like immersive theater on crack spread out over five hours in a huge, perfectly converted warehouse. We met all the characters from Blade Runner and some of them sent us on missions. I used personal photos as currency and answered a questionnaire to determine my role (though I’m still not sure whether or not I’m a replicant). In Chinatown it was always raining. There were noodles that tasted incredible. I went with a few members of amazing arch-viz company Recent Spaces, and we looked like this.


6/14/2018 7:30 PM – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Pt 1 – Best stagecraft I’ve ever seen hampered by a terrible script. The work being done with lights and the set and props and sound and choreography is truly (there’s no other word for it) magical, and not in a showy way, but like a really casual way, like ‘oh look a stack of messy papers’ then ‘phwt!’ all tidied up and onto the next thing. I was pretty high up in the balcony but the sightlines were excellent (steepest balcony I’ve ever been in). There was only one scene in the whole show where the action was too far downstage, and everyone in the front of the balcony leaned forward which of course created a ripple effect of worse sightlines for everyone behind. The seats were uncomfortable and squeaky.


6/16/2018 2:30 PM – Fatherland – Blechhhh. The premise sounded like it would be a wonderful exploration of what it’s like to be a father and how that definition and its responsibilities have changed over the last fifty years, but instead it was a verbatim (read: repetitive and rambly) re-enactment of interviews with guys (SO many guys. HUGE cast of like 40 guys, not a woman in sight) talking/sing-talking about how terrible their fathers were to them. It made an hour and a half feel like three hours, and the overall message basically came off as: “don’t become a dad or you’ll ruin your kids’ lives.”


6/16/2018 7:30 PM – Brief Encounter – I was told to see anything by Kneehigh Theatre, and holy goodness I see why.Crazy talented cast– they can dance, they can sing, they all play fifty instruments, great physicality, and oh yes they can change the tone of a scene with nothing but an eyebrow. A lot of Noel Coward shows I’ve seen have felt hyper-farcical to the point of fleeting with no lasting impact, but I genuinely felt for these characters and their plight despite spending half the show laughing at them. There was a very cool effect of doing some entrances and exits by projecting scenes (I believe aping the film), and characters would exit from real life into the film, allowing for a little more “stage” time while the real actor could perform a lightning-fast costume change behind the curtain before reappearing in the next scene. This show, like Fatherland, is an hour and a half, but felt like forty minutes it was paced so well.


6/19/2018 – Bat Out of Hell – Yes, it’s a lot Meatloaf songs. Yes, it’s basically a mash-up between Romeo & Juliet, Peter Pan, The Warriors, and Escape from New York. Yes that creates a plot that’s even more confusing than it sounds. Luckily, it seems to be aware of that and establishes itself as insane right from the little newspapers they give you at the beginning. My friend and I had a generous amount of wtf sort of laughter the whole show. The actor playing Strat may actually come from another dimension.


6/20/2018 – 7:50 PM – Somnai VR – A “lucid dream” experience about 30% VR. I arrived there early and asked if I could go get in an earlier slot. There was a lovely couple, Pip and Megan, who were kind of enough to offer to let me join them despite having no idea who I was. After we all emptied our pockets and put on our sleepwear, we were taken to a strange room where a very AI-y guide told us a bedtime story and asked us questions like “what’s your favorite nightmare?” and “what would you do with more money?” to which Megan said “travel more” and when we were all asked “to where?” we landed on “space.” What ensued was a crazy mind-bendy trip involving a lot of stagecraft, VR, and VR stagecraft where at one point, Pip, Megan and I were all existing as particles in a forest and Pip disappeared.


Megan and I were taken to another room and asked if we would like to find Pip, or go back to sleep. Megan (rightfully) suspected that looking for Pip would be a terrifying experience (based on the creepy bunny lady beckoning us in through that door), so Megan went back to sleep and I offered to look for Pip. I was read a bedtime story, given clues as to Pip’s whereabouts, and then chased around by someone in a black cloak screaming “GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!” until I eventually found Pip in a dungeony room where we could see Megan on a camera but also told we needed to find a key.


More crazy stuff happened, eventually we were reunited with Megan, and taken to a very clinical room where, for the first time, we all laid down in proper beds. A final VR experience ensued where we, holy crap, WENT TO SPACE (Whaaaaa?) but Megan started to laugh maniacally in the middle of the experience. Pip and I thought she might have snapped, but found out later that while Pip and I were being given our pleasant flying dream, she was being ‘punished’ for not searching for Pip and being buried alive (complete with real dirt landing on her). Soon afterwards the experience ended and we found ourselves in a weird post-apocalyptic bar drinking weird post-apocalyptic drinks and looking at holograms while talking about how each of our journeys differed.


We helped each other out in there and this actually became quite the bonding experience (shared trauma can do that I suppose). I now feel very close to Pip and Megan, and I promised that if they ever come to NYC I’ll take them to Sleep No More.


6/21/2018 2:30 PM – Hamilton – I was late to the party (early 2016) with my love for Hamilton, but when it hit, it hit hard. It wasn’t long before I had the whole show memorized and, in some late desperate nights of trying to get my first child to sleep, made the wonderful discovery that he actually responded better to Hamilton songs than to traditional lullabies. Seeing the show on stage for me (4th row, 75 pound tickets) was what I imagine it must have been like to be a Beatles fan, listen to their music a bazillion times, then finally see them in concert. I was close to weeping the whole first act and can’t express what a joy it was to see the visual, live version of this to pair with the music I’ve come to love so much. Some thoughts:

  1. Alexander Hamilton played by Jamael Westman — perfect casting. I thought him being a little ‘too tall’ actually worked. Excellent, nuanced acting gave an emotional spine to the whole show. Also a gorgeous voice. Looking forward to watching this guy… rise up.
  2. Great King George. I liked him hanging out after his third song “Jesus Christ this will be fun!” then he actually has fun. All the fun.
  3. “Vice President isn’t a real job anyway” (instead of the album’s “John Adams doesn’t have a real job anyway”)… becomes a nice foreshadowed Aaron Burr slam for later.
  4. I didn’t feel a ton of chemistry between the actors… there was a bit of a sense of everyone doing their own thing, but it still worked.
  5. Philip’s death was painful and beautiful and perfect… except Eliza gives a way too loud and forced “noooo!” at the end.
  6. George Washington did some weird deep voice stuff that felt more like the actor showing off his multi-octave range than something in line with the character. Didn’t have as much stillness as I would have liked. Some line readings became a little  “Harry didja put yo name in the Goblet of Fire!?
  7. I didn’t realize Madison is played by Mulligan! That’s cool, especially as Jefferson’s hype man; “Uhhh… France.”
  8. The actor playing Jefferson and Lafayette is broader and more hammy than I imagine Daveed Diggs’ portrayal was, but it was fun. He really felt like the opposite of Hamilton in every way.
  9. The moment with Alexander finding out about Lawrence’s death worked really well in a somber blue light… and it’s really lovely that that’s the actor who then plays his son, as that scene thinking about Philip happens right when Lawrence dies. A bit of a reincarnation.
  10. Awesome soloing at the end of the show! I want that on the album
  11. The “Holding bullet’ thing was pretty cool.
  12. The Farmer Refuted is way more comprehensible with the visuals of everything and more distinct audio
  13. Liked Philip being surprised by his mom beat boxing, then Alexander getting into it.
  14. Aaron Burr was really good, but sometimes got too quiet– the only actor who I lost a fair number of lines from.
  15. Eliza’s reading of “Thank you for your service” sounded really British… both times!
  16. Super tight pants. SUPER tight pants.
  17. She’s married to a British officer “OH SHIT!”