But as evidenced by my recent experience with Broadway and Off-Broadway Theater, plays, even musicals, are getting shorter so as to match our attention span. Six out of the eight shows had no intermission, which I consider a good thing, unless the show is so horribly painful that you want to feign illness to get out of the theater. (The only show in recent memory that was that bad was the musical based on Bob Dylan's music -- I know; how could you ruin that? -- at San Diego's Old Globe Theater. Too much stuff we see in San Diego is pre-ordained to go to Broadway, which is not a good thing.)
Anyway, most shows lasted 90-100 minutes, which was the correct length of time to tell their particular stories. I particularly loved GOD OF CARNAGE, by Yasmina Reza, a French playwright with remarkably intimate knowledge of life in suburbia for two yuppie couples who take things way too seriously. From the very first line, a recitation of an informal contract that was presumably to be signed by both parties, it was clear that the playwright understood these couples who are of a type we know to exist, even if we don't know them personally. A kinder, gentler VIRGINIA WOOLF, with more alcohol and less sex.
Then there were the musicals. THE BURNT PART BOYS, about the reopening of a mine in West Virginia ten years after a disaster killed 4 miners, 3 of whom were parents of the principal actors in the show, was exceptionally well-directed on a barebones stage in which ladders and chairs stood for the mountain, the mine, and individual homes in the town. Oddly, though, this bluegrass musical had no 'heart.' How can you not feel for these kids who lost their fathers at a young age? I don't know, but you didn't. FELA! was based on the life of a man who tried to bring reform to a corrupt Nigeria. The theater was decorated like a nightclub, and offered the novelty of being able to bring drinks to your seat (which certain other theaters allowed for a surcharge -- the cost of a "commemorative" plastic cup for your wine). A Bill T. Jones dance show with Afrobeat music. Maybe it was too warm in the theater, but the second act dragged, for me. AMERICAN IDIOT, based on the album of the same name by Green Day, was a RENT or HAIR pretender, but was really just the album with a lot of flashing lights. Turn the music up loud and listen to it at home. I don't know about you, but I wasn't all that interested in Andrew Jackson, our seventh president, the face on our $20 bill, either before, or after, BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON. Overhyped; inadequate voices, but a nice try. RED, about Mark Rothko. Turns out he had a ego. What a surprise.