While I am of course known as America’s most beloved and irresponsible film critic, as a New Yorker and a cultured human being I very much enjoy going to the live theater, and not only to see Hugh Jackman remove as much clothing as possible, although whenever I see Hugh in a tight t-shirt I want to stand up and shout, “Hey, all of you downtown not-for-profit performance pieces about deconstructing Antigone in a trailer park – you could use a little Hugh!”
Last night I attended Terrence McNally’s wonderful comedy It’s Only A Play, and let me just say this: the minute the curtain rose on an over-the-top Manhattan penthouse with lucite sidechairs and cream-colored carpeting, I was in heaven, and when Nathan Lane entered in a tuxedo I experienced a theatrical orgasm which was only enhanced by my $12 bag of peanut M&Ms. Whenever Nathan shows up onstage, in anything, the audience becomes his giddy slaves, and he has an extended phone conversation which made me forget all about the endless construction in Times Square, anything Dick Cheney has ever said, and whatever North Korea is up to next. In fact, I feel that we should send Nathan to North Korea, because I’m sure that the entire population would immediately follow him instead of Kim Jong-un.
The play takes place over a single night, as a group of theater people wait for the reviews of a new Broadway show. Matthew Broderick plays the adorable playwright, Megan Mullally is the madcap producer, and the blissful Stockard Channing snorts and sulks and bewitches as the resident diva. F. Murray Abraham uproariously plays a vicious critic; sadly, I am most likely the only critic of any sort entirely lacking in such bitterness and envy. I always yearn to tell all other critics: maybe you would be happier people if like me, you understood grooming, poise and why you never really need to see any theatrical work which doesn’t feature a centrally located ottoman.
During It’s Only A Play the characters experience the intoxication of hope and the agony of televised reviews, along with lots of delicious tirades against importing English productions to steal American Tony Awards. There’s also a terrific young actor named Micah Stock, who plays a cater-waiter hired to heap coats on the bed. Just watching Micah do this filled me with joy because it meant that just offstage, there were probably hot hors d’oeuvres and trays of gourmet chocolate-chip cookies. To me, a Manhattan party where Nathan Lane can accidentally eat dog treats is the highest form of art. Nathan’s reaction when he discovers what he’s done is much more worthwhile than say, worrying about the English class system or a rap version of Anna Karenina, if you ask me.