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Don't say "stroke" Saw Fifth

Don't say "stroke"

Saw Fifth of July tonight, but before I get to that -- how much fun was Chelsea Commons tonight for a burger and fries after the show? First burger in weeks (remember ... Bonaire is just around the bend) and the Winona look-alike waitress was the bomb. Shoplifted nothing (although she kept wanting to "try on" my coat and Larry's briefcase) and wrote our order on a stolen prescription pad. And Belinda Carlise was on the juke box reminding us that Heaven is a Place on Earth. Oh baby, I know what that's worth.

Burgers and an excellent jukebox only a block and a half from the apartment, which was a short cab ride away from the theater, which was a quick stroll away from cocktails at Barrage, which was a 10-minute (albeit bitter cold) walk (via Times Square) from work. 2 nights in a row being way too happy to live in Manhattan.

meanwhile, back at the theater . . .

Had never seen or read this play in all those years of trying to act, but heard so much about it. I really enjoyed it ... wished I could be in it at some point, although as old as I've been feeling lately, the only role I could play is Sally (who was dead on).

Loved the actors playing Jed (Michael Gladis) and Weston (Ebon Moss-Bachrach). So present and so connected ... especially Gladis in a role of the quiet nurturer who loves so hard and provides such strength, even if it means letting go. "I have work to do." Parker Posey was a lot of fun, but how cool would it be to jump into the time machine and see a young Swoozie sink her teeth into Gwen.

I'd read in a couple reviews that the second act is where all the drama unfurls ... well. Ten minutes into the act an old lady a couple seats over from us gets up and starts edging her way to the aisle (we were in the center). She walks down the steps toward the stage, gets toward the exit at the bottom of stage right, presumably just out of the actors' view, and quietly collapses. A couple guys in the front row jump up to attend to her and got help from the lobby. So there she was, laying there just off stage, dimly lit by the downstage-right lights, looking not unlike a corpse, but not really too distracting unless you'd noticed in the first place. The show went on for a good 5-10 minutes -- several people (including Larry and me) watching the drama to the left and trying to keep up with what was transpiring onstage. The cast kept right on going, though. Amazing concentration. Then the paramedics came in. 3-4 firemen followed, walkie-talkies blaring away.

"And I think we should pause," says Kenneth Talley. I don't have Lanford Wilson's script on my bookshelf, but I venture to say that line is not in it.

Have heard many accounts of a show being stopped, but never been there when it happened. The cast was great about it (especially Robert Sean Leonard). Several of the cast left the stage after he called for a break. He asked for the house lights, they were turned up and someone in the front row made a remark to him about everyone leaving him on stage to which he responded, "Well, I can't walk." And so the witty banter began. The audience was delighted -- except for the lady in the audience who whined "can you please speak up so we all can hear?" I guess she had to get her money's worth. And then there was the lady next to me who says to her neighbor, "I had no idea why they were stopping. I thought there was a fire or it was terrorists."

The lady was taken out of the house and the cast came back, decided where to pick up (a couple pages back -- "even though you know Wes' punch line"), and plowed right in. One of the best parts of the night was watching everyone fall back into character and moving the story forward. Really made me miss the process of theater -- one of the few times I've paid money to be reminded there's a ton of "work" going on to make things look so real on stage. Well done to everyone.

Almost forgot that they'd even had to stop until the "secret" comes out that Sally had collapsed at the funeral and she may have had a stroke. Parke Posey was so funny in her "don't say stroke" bits -- I wonder if she (Parker) was at all self-conscious during those bits -- and what was going through Pamela Payton-Wright's mind when she was talking about seeing two of everything at the funeral just before she collapsed. Life imitating art imitating life.

How ironic that it's very well what may have happened to the sweet old lady who was tonight's real showstopper. I hope she's well.