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.


Rinaldo said...

(Offered as the friendliest of suggestions:) If you're going to (rightfully!) sing the praises of Hugh Dancy, perhaps check the spelling of his name?

That said, this does sound terrific. I'll try to get up there and see it if I can.

Joe Reid said...

Look, it's early.

Roommate Mark said...

Hey Joe -- I loved this play, too. It really says something relevant and fresh about what it means to develop a gay identity right now... about how the specters of earlier oppressions and repressions are still affecting us, and how we can do something about it.

As a bit of a shameless plug, I'd also like to point you to the feature that I wrote on Andrea Riseborough. We talked about what it's like to play the same character (at the same age) in two wildly different worlds, and she was totes smart and charming...

JA said...

I love Hue Darcy.

Joe Reid said...

I hate you.

Also, Mark, thanks so much for the link to the Andrea interview. She's lovely. And, as I suspected, my clumsiness with Brit accents failed me -- I guess both versions of the characters are upper-middle-class, as Andrea describes, only the contemporary versions are allowed to speak more "regionally." Look at me learning!

Formerly Anonymous said...

you might be interested: Andrea Riseborough and Michael Fassbender (the internet's crush at the moment. haha) were in The Devil's Whore, a 4-hour miniseries about the English Civil War (also with Dominic West and John Simm).

Just spreading the love :D

Jude said...

I'm not gonna lie - The second I saw the name Kerry Butler I stopped reading the post and had to see what else you had written about her. She turns 39 this June! Can you believe it?

Drew said...

That second photo of Whishaw... drool...

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Caroline said...

**SCREAM/Fangirl squeal*

I'm a new fan of this blog. First post I see, you're voicing my same exact longing to know who the mystery EW Oscar actress was. Then I see a post discussing Ben Whishaw in The Pride.

Tragic story: Brought tickets for The Pride on Saturday, online reservation fell through, tickets were sold out. Won't be able to for another two weeks *sob*.

But thank you thank you thank you for making my day.