Friday, May 16, 2008

Captain Blood is Off Off Broadway

It's rainy days here in Manhattan, so you might want to find indoor events. If you're a movie nut but hanker regularly for live theater only to lament your lack of a Broadway budget --I'm describing myself but surely some of you, too-- I've got a fun suggestion for a night out.

I recently attendant an Off Broadway show called The Accidental Patriot: The Lamentable Tragedy of The Pirate Desmond Connelly, Irish by Birth, English by Blood, and American by Inclination (whew) which is playing at the Milagro Theater downtown. Like most small shows the run is short, there's just two performances left (tonight and tomorrow night, May 17th @ 8 PM). I'm going to be keeping an eye on this theater company Stolen Chair from now on.

I'm not sure where their cinephilia comes from, but love of the cinema snakes its way into their productions with some regularity... and not, if The Accidental Patriot is indication, in the dull copy & paste way it does when Broadway transfers a movie. In past productions they've apparently done stage interpretations of film noirs and silents. This one uses the dead swashbuckler genre as its jumping off point. The Accidental Patriot's primary influence is the Errol Flynn film Captain Blood (1935, but it's had a few movie versions) but it's not a straight adaptation. They've also mixed in some Greek tragedy. It's experimental theater but not self-serious and Jensen (my best friend) and I had a lot of fun watching it.

The thing I hate most about stage versions of movies is the set-changes. Stage plays are not meant to constantly have scene changes but film-to-stage properties often ape that standard movie structure and composition without realizing how awkward it plays in live theater. I worried during the first two set changes that The Accidental Patriot would annoy me in this same way but instead I found that the supporting cast was amusingly and increasingly grumbling about their set-shifting duties. The play was self aware enough to point out the awkward and in so doing, make it comedically entertaining.

Errol Flynn & Olivia DeHavilland in Captain Blood (1935)
The leads in
The Accidental Patriot (2008)

My favorite flourish within the production was the continually amusing theatrical interpretation of "close ups" which the female lead in particular handled with go-for-broke humor and pre-method acting aplomb. I'd recommended this to any of you seeking a different sort of entertainment adventure this weekend. It's only a few bucks pricier than a movie ticket and it's freakin' live theater. Support!

pssst. Oscar-watchers take note. I was highly amused to read in the cast bios that one of the actors has his own Oscar prediction page. First time I've ever seen that in a bio. hee.


Glenn Dunks said...

It's a rainy day here too! I swear it's been raining non stop since 10.30 last night. It's now 12.40pm the next day.

Glenn Dunks said...

Oh, and naturally, I have nothing to add about this topic except that I love that Waiting for Guffman about "off off off off broadway" (or however many offs it is).