Thursday, January 21, 2010

Full Price for 45 Minutes?

From a Chicago Tribune article on the genesis of the O'Neill/Beckett double bill that Brian Dennehy has been performing in Canada and the U.S.:

Penned in 1941 but first performed in 1959 (after the author’s death), “Hughie” is the story of Erie Smith, a Broadway bum with a big mouth who hangs around a flea-pit hotel lamenting the disappearance of the titular desk clerk who was willing to listen to his drunken monologues. Its running time is only 45 to 50 minutes. So when Dennehy persuaded the Trinity Repertory Theatre in Providence, R.I., to produce the show in 2004, he suggested pairing with a Sean O’Casey comedy called “A Pound on Demand.” In that minor bit of O’Casey, a pair of Irish drunks try to stay sober long enough to get some money out of their post office account. It is, to say the least, a play that cashes in on Irish stereotypes. Director Robert Falls, Dennehy’s longtime collaborator, showed up to see it.

“He was appalled,” Dennehy says, grinning at the man seated next to him.

“I told Brian that doing O’Neill with that play only diminished ‘Hughie’,” Falls says. “Brian thought you couldn’t charge full prices for a play 45 minutes long. Sure you can. Audiences are delighted to see a 45 minute play. Plus they are getting to see you, Brian.”

Dennehy snorts.

So when “Hughie” showed up under Falls’ direction in the Owen Theatre at the Goodman in 2004, it was alone on the bill.

I haven't seen this production, but my first reaction is thatHughie might diminish Krapp in the new formula.

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