Saturday, April 18, 2015

Rejection: Part II (The Upstairs Concierge by Kristoffer Diaz)

A couple weeks ago Bisque and I went to The Goodman for a Sunday night date. The Upstairs Concierge by Kristoffer Diaz. It was a comedy, and about thirty minutes in neither of us had laughed once. More than that, I was bored, borderline offended someone thought this extremely cliche set-up ("We're in a new hotel where there are no locks on the doors, and everyone is highly sexualized!") would be entertaining to me. I was so shocked by how bad the play was that I legitimately awaited a humongous "JUST KIDDING"--like all the characters suddenly became zombies, or it was a bad play within a play. But no. It was just a very under-developed in terms of character, super over-developed in terms of cheesy punchlines, and over-zealous physical comedy for physical comedy's sake plot garbage pot pie. We actually considered walking out. "Are we nuts?" Nope. We weren't. The next day the reviews came. And woof.

The lead of the show is an extremely talented woman who I have seen perform at SC numerous times. With few exceptions, everyone on stage was fun. The playwright has been previously nominated for a Pulitzer. The ensemble developed this show over the course of three years. Then, it was put up at the biggest commercial theatre in Chicago. Flop City. How did this happen? How could people not see?

I so respect Diaz's motives. He wanted a big farce because regional theatre doesn't have any modern pieces to do. Everyone's still Noises Off! forever and ever. He wanted to showcase minorities in big fat comic roles. Yes! I want that too. But, I want it to be good. I won't go into more detail because the critics already bashed the piece to smithereens. The point: maybe, and that's a big maybe, it was good for this piece to happen and fail big, but ultimately, it should have been rejected.

I'm not sure when The Goodman officially slotted the play, and I'm not sure when something can be pulled, so maybe by the time it was definitely bad it was too late. But, a rejection would have been a blessing. And wouldn't we rather that? Be sifted into the spaces we will shine in rather than never be rejected and spoil like cabbage in public?

Another good thing: I will see Kristoffer Diaz's next show. I get it. Sometimes work doesn't work. I still believe in him. If I can see this, perhaps those who have seen me fail can too.

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