Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Ben, You're Always Running Here and There
Jason and I went and got our asses some culture last night, seeing the Off-Broadway production of The Pride, starring Hugh Dancy, Ben Whishaw, Andrea Riseborough, and Adam James.
And so, because I know Jason's going to post his own Hugh Dancy-obsessed assessment of the play today (and why shouldn't he? Dancy's fantastic, and a worthy crush object), I figured I owed it to the universe to balance the scales and throw some Ben Whishaw love out into the universe. Because if Brideshead Revisited got my attention, and Bright Star got me to swoon, seeing The Pride live and in person has turned my Ben Whishaw thing into a Ben Whishaw Thing.
I mean, yes, on one level, it's reductive to boil down the praise of an entire rather excellent play to one actor whom I love. Truly, the entire cast was wonderful. Dancy, Whishaw, and Risebrough each play parallel characters whose complicated relationships revolve around the fact that both men are totally gaybones for each other. The story bounces in between two time periods, one contemporary and one back in Repressed Times, and the way the transitions bleed into each other -- ghosts crossing the stage, morphing and diminishing, at times half-aware of each other's presence -- is striking.
I should also mention the two characters who are not hot, gay(ish), British actors with name value: Adam James plays multiple characters and, in two of three instances is a total scream, though he's grounded enough to be more than simple comic relief. And Andrea Riseborough ... I said to Jason, I'm going to have to develop a Kerry Butler-style ladycrush on her. She's amazing, heartbreaking one moment and a hilarious, rapid-fire chatterbox the next. She reminded me of Kate Winslet, actually, in both storylines, and I don't throw that praise around lightly.
But it does come back to dear Ben, who in person is just impossibly thin and slight (yes, even more so), but whose presence couldn't have been more substantial. His character(s) burned the brightest, for me. His Repression-era hopefulness and wide eyes folding into a modern version of the character for whom openness hasn't been the cure-all you might have hoped. This is a play where changes in expression, demeanor, voice (I really wish I had a better grasp of British dialects, but the modern characters are decidedly less bourgeois in their speech) are all incredibly precise as they change from one storyline to the other, and Whishaw's face, his spindly frame, down to the way he peers at other characters just tells you a million stories at once.
I can't recommend this play enough -- if you're fortunate enough to be in New York before March 28th, seriously don't miss it.