The House of Blue Leaves

I wasn’t upset by the ending of the play, it was more fun watching the reactions of people who clearly were expecting something else. The murder was subtle at first, the music added to the creepiness, the lighting especially added to the mood. A few individuals snickered and someone who was really confused blurted “Is she dead?” I enjoyed the “slow motion” sequence which combined exaggerated actions with pulsating rectangles of colored light. The fact that the lighting became to unrealistic at that moment emphasized the artificiality of the play and elaborated the ridiculousness of the plot itself. I try to imagine what went into making the set and am always looking for mistakes. I listen and watch for missed lines or cues, and any set or prop malfunctions. I don’t do this because I like to complain about every little thing but because those things are part of the experience of live theatre. The directors I have worked with stress that if “you can see the audience, they can see you” which isn’t always literal but it serves as a reminder that you must be alert at all times and fully submerse yourself into your character or role. I watch for actors that merely “deliver their lines” as opposed to those who genuinely interact with others.

I liked the quirky story of a song-writer zookeeper with a crazy a wife named Bananas and a girlfriend named Bunny who nibbles on a large carrot she pulls out of the refrigerator. The song Artie wrote in the tune of “White Christmas” reminded me of the songs from a play I was in during my junior year in high school. It was a comedy about a musical called Sing On! In the play a group of actors and technicians put on a musical written by an untalented, overbearing playwright named Phyllis Montague. All the songs in the “fake” musical were reworked tunes of Stephen Foster with lyrics by her equally untalented nephew, Monte Montague. The musical was about Queen Elizabeth, the supposed virgin Queen of England and her rumored “affair” with Lord Essex. At the end of the musical within a play one of the two actresses who play the role of Queen Elizabeth in the play has a baby just offstage prompting Phyllis to do a quick rewrite of the finale song. The whole cast and crew celebrates the birth of Violet’s new baby boy with a song to the tune of “Camptown Races“. From memory I can still recite the last few lines:

Though Queen Bess insisted on less sex, Essex,
told her single life’s no fun, let’s be a pair,
‘Cuz if they didn’t share, the royal line stops there.
So they decided they should have a son…

Well, you get the idea, I still remember quite a bit of it six years after I was in it, probably because it was such a strange play. I think those are the kind I like the best and The House of Blue Leaves definitely fits into that category.

Abbot, Rick. Sing On!: A Comedy about a Musical, Samuel French, Inc., 1991


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