One of my schlubbier idosyncracies is that I not uncommonly leave shows at intermission. For the most part, this is because it’s very hard for me to suspend disbelief. I’m also prone to vicarious stage fright. Dropped lines, slow set changes, all the blips and bleeps of live theater … they tie me up in knots so that, by the time the houselights come up at the half, I’m physically uncomfortable.
I know, I know. I should get over myself. I should relax. And believe me, I would if I could.
But I can’t.
Without question, I’m a terrible audience, which diminishes me and only me ninety nine times out of a hundred.
True to form, I fled the opening night performance of Identity Crisis last Thursday night at Centre Stage. Fled at intermission. I’d gone there hoping to enjoy myself, as I always do, but failed, as I usually do, this time because I dislike in the extreme the kind of broad stroke comedy that made Jim Carrey famous. I failed because the French fascination with Jerry Lewis mystifies me. (I just don’t get it. I don’t get him.) I failed because sitcoms like “Three’s Company” actually depress me in the same way that polyester leisure suits depress me. Too much, too loud, too colorful, too crazy, too fast.
I was – and I exaggerate only slightly – overwhelmed. In a bad way. More accurately, I was appalled. I saw, or thought I saw, a soft-spoken script shouted down by its seasoned director via his talented actors and it was more than I could bear.
It’s my vague recollection that the rest of the audience was as unmoved as I was by the Lewis-esque pratfalls and the Carrey-esque facial contortions, but on this point I’m not so sure. If the scene of an accident is sufficiently unsettling, memory of it sometimes gets ragged at the edges.
Here’s the rub, though, folks …
While I have no reason to believe that the production turned on a dime after opening night, subsequent audiences have been leaping to their feet at curtain call. Standing ovations. They saw the same show that I saw, and they loved it.
Granted, standing ovations in Greenville aren’t necessarily as meaningful as they might be in more demanding markets, but nor are they a matter of course at Centre Stage. And hundreds of presumably smart, healthy, uninebriated, well-educated people, if they were to read this blog entry, would shake their heads in disbelief. Or pity.
So what the hell is my problem, anyway? Do I have my head up my ass? Yes, maybe I do. In fact, let’s stipulate to that. Tim Brosnan has his head way, way up his ass. Motion carried.
In fact, let’s leave the whole matter right there, shall we?
And thank you for your attention.