Festen (Broadway) aka The Celebration

emma and I just returned from Festen. I was bored. The actors seemed bored on stage, the script felt forced/heavy handed/repetitive, and the directing seemed to lead the actors to into weak positions. Do I recommend it? Uh, no. I’m not being sarcastic. I was disappointed. Alas.

An “asshole” of a brother/husband as described by his wife enters and begins to freak out asking why he can’t get into his father’s party. He did something “wrong” a year ago, apparently he got a bit to rowdy when he drank too much. He then gropes his sister full handed on her breast and then begins grabbing her legs and she is trying to get away from him. This “asshole” of a brother then… What does he do next?! )sigh( he mellows out and is pretty tame the rest of the play. WTF?! Why did he do any of it and why is everyone okay with him being there after what he did last year? Uh… )insert blank stare(

A sister, the one that was groped, learns of her father’s previous actions to a different brother and sister, twins, through a note she finds by playing ‘hot/cold’ – the dead sister liked this game so much that she hid her suicide letter. She reads it and is amazed at what she learns. Soon after her older brother, not the groping one, says that their father took advantage of he and his twin sister… Everyone looks amazed and keeps silent. Nobody says anything. He leaves. She then stands and… Defends him?! No. No she doesn’t defend him. She knows he spoke the truth. Instead she says ‘He was just being silly.’ W.T.AHHHH!

The second act opens and you get something you’ve been waiting for… GREAT WRITING AND SERIOUS TENSION! Racism. Racism. Racism! Racism was handled magnificently. It’s not often anyone will hear “monkey” said, on stage, on Broadway, etc. about someone. Then a follow up (racist) song to rub it even more. The writing in this particular scene felt like… Well, it seemed as though the writer was inspired to put it simple.

I’ll wrap up my review with a snippet from the NY Times Review “Embodied by an eclectic roster of the famous and demifamous from screen, television, and stage the unhappy family of “Festen” now registers the approximate tension and testiness of vain people suffering from a collective bad-hair day.” … “And you never sense the damning connectedness of these people.”

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