I hope this will be understood as more of an outpouring than a critique of your work.
To the actor who played the painter. You were the most comfortable; in fact, the men were the most comfortable and the best written.
The Greek tragedy, finding the body of your sister, was a little much. I’m surprised no one in the rewrite room said, “Yeah, everyone is screaming at the same time. It’s unrealistic.” Not to mention, no one cared that much about the main character.You made her completely unlikable.
I want you to know I got the flashback blocking moment. When unlikable sister is coming down the stairs and spies Julliard teacher coming through the door, it is the exact same blocking (where they see one another) in the flashback. That did not go wasted on my subconscious, and thanks for that. It reminded me of the movie with Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody: both brothers, both clever, both con-men. They perform scenes that reenact true events from the lies of their cons in order to achieve some desired reaction (make money).
I have been talking about your play for the last four days. I wanted it to be good, even as I watched it.
The set was incredible. I wanted to live there.
I don’t like the title. There is nothing second meaning about it. And the first meaning is what? Telling Julliard teacher “this is our family. Stay away!” That teacher slept with three-quarters of that New England family.
Julliard teacher, has anyone ever mentioned you have the same delivery as Jonah Hill? The way you both fling around sarcasm is incredibly similar.
Painter, you were my favorite person in the show. Your body of work is massive. I enjoyed you 98% of the time. But I do not buy that you received a fellowship. I did not buy that. Your choice of being nice and dopey, and so entirely non-threatening, was less effective, and probably a less interesting choice for you. You are a painter. Sure, you paint family portraits, but look at the lives of some painters: Van Gogh, Matisse, Rembrandt. How conservative to play a Guggenheim, or McArthur foundation award winner as the video store guy, or Starbucks employee, or mailman on whatever TV show? You’re an actor. Change your self. Play someone you’ve always wanted to be but never could. Is it a cliché to play a painter as enchanting, magnetic, soulful? I know there’s the portion of the play where you admit to using your pain or sadness to get people to like you (the most interesting thing about you), but that is cliché. And that does ring phony. But that doesn’t mean you have to go a hundred and eighty degree turn to ‘Starbucks employee.’ Maybe that’s just me. I’m picking on you because you seemed the best one on stage, and capable of just about anything, and I sometimes you just like to be blown away by someone on stage. Where was the guts? The animalism? The magnetism? Why not go for broke?
The father was good but I’m sick of playwrights making dads getting stuck in the role of nice guy: lovable old dad. That has one scene where he expresses himself, and it’s all about Aristotle. I paid attention in that scene mostly because of form. I figured the purpose of that scene was to bring in the parallel of how the living twin felt about the other twin. I get it. And she’s standing in the adjoining room, holding in tears. But we don’t care about that sister. She is not pleasant. Not likeable. Jimmy, in Look Back in Anger, was a bastard, but he suffered. You felt bad for him. What did you feel bad for her? I don’t think that was fully explained. Because she thinks she’s a fuck up? Cause she saw her sister die? That’s not the most interesting thing about her.
I have an idea. In Act II, when the painter walks out the door, we should (without a doubt) believe he is not coming back; the wedding called off. The parents will try to convince the daughter that the wedding has been cancelled and she will refuse to believe it, that would be something. That will be emotional. That will make me feel for her. Because as it is, we go to the flashback and you realize she’s not just a complainer with a bad attitude, but has no morals. Which is fine, but I need to feel for her, or I don’t care.
There was nothing to like about her and I truly hoped the mailman/painter decided to call off the wedding.
Take out the line “fall through your hands like sand.” That’s not poetic and it makes the audience cringe.
Also, your career is amazing and I hope you are on your way to doing great work. I thought about Chekhov the whole time I watched your play, and I respect that. It’s not your bad. The experienced writers and directors around you should have noticed that the ending was way too dramatic. The actors know it. You can see it on their faces when they take the bow. Except on the mothers face. She doesn’t know it. I also don’t like how she sings every word.
Thanks for the work.