Theater review: “Timeshare,” at Brown/Trinity Playwrights Rep


Partner and I saw the last play in the Brown/Trinity Playwrights Rep series, “Timeshare,” on Saturday night.



I love a good farce. I have a very childish sense of humor; I love it when people run in and out of rooms, and scream, and dress in ridiculous outfits, and hide inside coffee tables. (Of course, it has to be done well.  Silly is good; stupid is quite another thing.) Also, you need actors with good timing, who can scream, and cajole, and wheedle, and make funny faces, and do long ridiculous takes.



We were fortunate to have pretty much all of the above on Saturday night.



This is a traditional mixed-up family comedy: everyone (mother, father, married daughter + husband, unmarried daughter + boyfriend) shows up at the mountain cabin on the same weekend. Misunderstandings ensue. Two engagement rings are hidden, misplaced, given to the wrong recipients.



As in all good farce, there is a happy ending.



I especially liked the use – and subtle subversion – of stereotypes. There’s an unbearable Jewish mother, who turns out to be a convert. The whiny emasculated Jewish dad is also a stoner. The handsome black boyfriend (a shaygetz if I ever saw one) is Jewish. The banker son-in-law is as dumb as a bag of hammers.



All in all: nicely done.



(This is a brand-new play, and a very nice one. It takes a teeny bit too long to set the scene in the first act; I think we could have met the characters more speedily. I kept wanting it to be funny during the first few scenes, but it felt sitcom-watery. Once all six of the characters were introduced, however, the fun began in earnest, and there were few dull moments after that.)



I give high marks to three of the performers: Mark Cohen, the father; Anne Nichols, the mother; and Ben Chase, the goofily stupid/charming son-in-law. (He was my favorite: he’s tall and lanky, with an expressive face and a voice that goes from cornball to Yalie to falsetto seamlessly. We got a lot of laughs out of him.)



From “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”:



No royal curse, no Trojan horse –

And a happy ending, of course.

What is the moral? Must be a moral . . .

Here is the moral, wrong or right:

Tragedy tomorrow – comedy tonight!


But I’m an intellectual!

In late November, Steve Martin went to the 92nd Street YMCA in New York City to discuss his new novel, “An Object of Beauty,” with an art critic from the New York Times, in front of a paying audience.

The YMCA has since offered a refund to spectators, saying that the session “did not meet the standard of excellence” they were accustomed to offer.

It was a discussion about art and the collection of art.


The audience came to see Steve Martin.



Okay. I see the problem.



Steve Martin is a very intelligent man. He even studied philosophy (for a while) when he was in college.  Did he graduate with a degree in philosophy? No, he did not. He went on to do stand-up comedy, with a banjo and an arrow through his head.



You would think that he’d have a sense of humor about this, since “humor” is how he’s been earning his bread and butter for the past thirty years.



But no!


Someone from the YMCA audience the other night sent up a note: “Talk about Steve’s career.” And, according to Steve in the Sunday Times, this derailed the whole fascinating conversation about art and life and collecting. Who knows what might have come next? Some fascinating revelation about what it’s like to own a Kandinsky, no doubt.


But instead, someone had the nerve! to ask about Steve’s movies.


(After he’d had the nerve to make them, of course.)


According to Steve, the YMCA crowd didn’t give him a chance. If they’d waited, they would have been treated to gems of conversation! . . . which, evidently, were lacking earlier.  


Comedians like to be taken seriously.  Groucho Marx was embittered by the need to be a clown his whole life and longed to be taken as an intellectual.  Woody Allen keeps making serious movies – I’ve seen “Interiors” at least twenty times, for whatever it’s worth – but people still like the old Woody Allen.  An alien in “Stardust Memories” tells Woody: “People on our planet like your movies.  Especially the earlier funnier ones.”


Steve didn’t achieve seriousness the other night by putting on a pair of Marian-the-Librarian glasses and making obvious comments about Edward Hopper.


He achieved pomposity.


Steve, honey: get over thyself.


It is extremely difficult to be taken seriously after being seen pulling handkerchiefs out of your fly.


Just give the people their refunds and shut up.




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