Thursday, April 03, 2008

Ed Seigel Prefers Bangs

I think you overestimate our dear Viennese, my friend. You know you didn't even give them a good bang at the end of songs, to let them know when to clap?
-Salieri to Mozart in Amadeus

Ed Seigel in the Globe Today

In "Shining City," an inexperienced therapist tries to console an older man who thinks he's literally being haunted by his wife. McPherson's writing is so crisp and rhythmic, and the acting so good, that it's never anything less than a moving story about human nature in all its messiness. But it wouldn't be much more than that without the final image, which slams home what a difficult time the therapist is going to have trying to escape his own demons, and what a difficult time we will, too, if we don't face up to our fears and

The counterargument is a good artist shouldn't need such "tricks"
to underscore his or her themes. Tell that to a classical crowd after that Beethoven symphony. And aren't the final images of "2001: A Space Odyssey" or "Bonnie and Clyde" what really sear those great movies into our memory bank?

I've been thinking about the two bank robbers and their death
throes - you knew that, right? - since seeing Michael Haneke's remake of his German thriller, "Funny Games."

Warning: Comments section below contains a spoiler for the Conor Mcpherson's Shining City, (which has now closed at the Huntington, but just in case you don't want anything given away.)


Bill Marx said...

One question about the silly trick ending of the resolutely vaporous "Shining City" -- Why didn't the therapist get his own ghost?

The shrink doesn't have to try to "escape him own demons."He lands a recycled poltergeist.

Thomas Garvey said...

I don't want to send Mr. Marx into another tailspin, but it's worth pointing out that (once again) he's being a bit inaccurate. The ghost that appears in the final moment of "Shining City" (I suppose at this late date, and since Marx has essentially given away the game, this isn't too much of a spoiler) isn't simply the patient's poltergeist, "recycled" - such an apparition would be a much older woman. No, the therapist's ghost is his own girlfriend, only bloodied in the manner of the patient's wife. In other words, via "counter-transference," he has re-imagined his emotional violence as the physical injuries that ended the life of his patient's wife. Now I wasn't a fan of Ed Siegel's article, and I still feel McPherson has written a suite of monologues rather than a full play, but the final moment is indeed carefully worked out and subtly compelling in a way I don't think Marx realizes.