Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Dangers of DOO RANG

Let me just say a couple of things about attempting to produce a play by Christorpher Durang. First of all it's extremely difficult to pull off well. His comedy is so absurd, cynical, and over-the-top, that unless you fully understand his humor and what it takes to play his stuff with complete sincerity while simultaneously maintaining an ever present sense of farce and irony, then forget about it. So many times over the last thirty years, I have seen relatively inexperienced actors and directors attempt his plays. Perhaps they do it because they have such fond memories of doing scenes from "Beyond Therapy" in acting class. Acting class is one thing, but to put an audience through two and a half hours of craziness without leaving them exhausted or frazzled or bored is another. On the other hand, when done well and with comic aplomb, a Durang play may just leave you with broken ribs and a hernia. You literally may laugh yourself to death.

So fellow directors, please, if you insist on doing Durang, make sure you ask a third party to come in and give you an honest assessment of how things are going about half way through the rehearsal process. Make sure this person is an experienced director who will be brutally honest with you. What you think is drop-dead hilarious, might actually be like finger nails on the chalkboard to those removed from the ubiquitous zaniness.

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