Without You is a deeply touching and honest memoir about the joys and sorrows of life. Rapp shares the struggles of an actor, his mom’s battle with ca...moreWithout You is a deeply touching and honest memoir about the joys and sorrows of life. Rapp shares the struggles of an actor, his mom’s battle with cancer, and with his mom about his sexuality. It also gives a behind the scenes look at Rent, which while taking off-Broadway by storm, on opening night (and after) the cast and crew were mourning the sudden death of its brilliant creator and their beloved friend and collaborator, Jonathan Larson. Like the song for which it’s named, Without You is extremely personal and heart-wrenchingly beautiful.(less)
Equus has been a favourite for several years. I’ve read the play countless times, saw the same production two nights in a row, and watched the film ve...moreEquus has been a favourite for several years. I’ve read the play countless times, saw the same production two nights in a row, and watched the film version with Richard Burton. It’s one of the few plays that never gets stale, there's always something new.
A teenage boy undergoes therapy after committing a crime on the basis that "what the eye does not see, the heart does not grieve over". How and why could he do such a thing? That’s for the psychiatrist and audience to find out. Intense and dark, Equus is about society’s norms and religion. Shaffer takes a look at how beliefs are formed and what makes them valid or not.
Despite its intensity, Equus is morbidly beautiful. Or perhaps, its beauty is in part because of its intensity. It’s well written and is a relatively quick read. Although I’ve read other, lighter plays by Peter Shaffer, this one is still my favorite. I highly recommend it in any format available.
"The Normal is the good smile in a child’s eyes- all right. It is also the dead stare in a million adults. It both sustains and kills- like a God. It is the Ordinary made beautiful; it is also the Average made lethal. The Normal is the indispensable, murderous God of Health."
I liked reading Kirwan's 5 plays, but like his music better. The songs of Irish rock band Black 47 tend to be political so it was no surprise that the...moreI liked reading Kirwan's 5 plays, but like his music better. The songs of Irish rock band Black 47 tend to be political so it was no surprise that the plays are of the same strain.
"Liverpool Fantasy" is an alternate history portraying how music can be a necessary and important influence on society. Deciding to bury the hatchet with his old bandmates, Paul McCartney returns to a decaying Britain. Without the group as catalysts, social and political turbulence was nonexistent and both Britain and the U.S. became conservative to the point of fascism.
It’s a unique take on how music, or the lack thereof, can affect society for better or worse. It was a bit long winded, but interesting none the less.
"Days of Rage" is a musical-drama about fighting to hold onto dreams. 15 years after becoming a musician, Stevie Hero must face his demons. He feels failed and sold out by his manager. On one shoulder he has his moral conscience in the form of a guerilla while on the other James "the Just" Joyce warning Stevie to stick to his guns.
It’s strange, but it oddly works. It reflects Kirwan’s own dealings with the ghosts that inspired the play. He says in the introduction, "Rock & Roll itself, not some diluted Broadwayized bullshit, would have a leading part".
"Mister Purnell" portrays the political and religious divisions between Ireland’s Protestants and Catholics, the love of one’s country, freedom, and dignity. It's based off of the scandal around William O’Shea’s divorce from his wife because of her affair with Charles Stewart Parnell, who had a chance at becoming a leader for the Home Rule Movement, which was predominately Catholic.
It's an interesting peek into the politics and history of 19th century Ireland. The sentiments of Ireland and England are personified, which works quite well.
"Blood" revolves around the disappearance of the leader of the Irish Citizen Army. James Connolly was shot by a British squad shortly after his involvement in the Easter Rising in 1916. During his captivity, Sean McDermott and Patrick Pearse convinced him to join in a suicidal attempt to overthrow British rule in Ireland.
Its intensity suits the events from which it’s based.
"Night in the Garden" is about a young boxer named Frankie who has the chance at the fight of a lifetime, and possibly his last. Except or his ex-trainer and his wife, everyone wants a piece of him.
It’s as quick paced as a boxing match and very New Yorker.
The plays’ move rather quickly, at times it’s dizzying. Colloquisms comes through loud and clear and Kirwan makes no attempt to soften the language unless it’s necessary for a character. He captures the characters, emotions, turmoil, and politics quite well. All but "Night in the Garden" were performed off-Broadway in the 80's, before Black 47 formed. (less)
There are few books I'll re-read with some regularity. This is my third reading, I've seen part one about 30 times (work), and I still manage to chuck...moreThere are few books I'll re-read with some regularity. This is my third reading, I've seen part one about 30 times (work), and I still manage to chuckle at the jokes and find new meaning within the script and characters. Angels in America is a brilliant piece of work. (less)