Beyond Expectations

By Lisa Erdman

In these cynical times, we might think people are tied to their cell phones and unmoved by the cerebral. We might think people are more likely to watch a video of a cat playing in the toilet than an artistic endeavor promoting the joy of great thought. We might, it seems, be wrong.


Discussed in this Review

Richard Rodgers Theatre 226 West 46th Street NYC

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Barrymore Theatre 243 West 47th Street NYC

Dear Elizabeth
McGinn/Cazale Theatre 2162 Broadway & 76th Street NYC

Since early September, I have seen three extraordinary productions that defy the current cynical currency. As we laugh at Trump’s hair and agonize over his pronouncements, these three events give hope: a rap musical about a Founding Father; a play about an autistic boy; and a play delineating the relationship of two poets. They both help us accept our current world and push us to improve it.

Hamilton has rightly earned every accolade imaginable and I was afraid I would be disappointed. How could anything live up to the hype? Well, it lived up to the hype and surpassed not only expectations but seemingly surpassed the humanly possible. It took the actual story of American history and re-imagined it to reflect on modern times, politics, race and gender issues. And it did so without cynicism. It taught and awakened and amazed. It offered hope and joy. It demanded you look up and try harder.

I had also heard great things about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Even my pickiest friend glowed when telling me I must see it. I had read the book and liked it, but was not bowled over. The play, however, took the small and lovely tale and blew it up. It did not give it a Hollywood happy ending nor did it twist the story to push the tissues. It simply made you see the world differently, as the boy did. It made you feel the confusion and terror he felt. It made you appreciate his gifts. Ultimately it made a whole audience of cynical New Yorkers stand and cheer for the perfect execution of a geometry problem. It too made you want to try harder.

Finally, I went to The Women’s Project Theater production at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre where something lovely greeted me. Every seat had a piece of paper folded on it. The paper, labeled “a poem for your pocket,” contained just that, a poem. Mine was by Robert Lowell. It was yet another reminder of how words and thoughts can soothe and excite. The play that followed, Dear Elizabeth, continued the gift. Two actors reciting the letters of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell laid bare two sad but extraordinary lives, lived without cat videos but lightened with toucans and liquor and love.

This entry was posted in Reviews. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

About Lisa Erdman

[bio missing]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


  • In The Latest Issue

  • Browse by Genre

  • Archives

    open all | close all