Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Nite Title Bout (March 29)

Every week, I write listings for the shows debuting on and off Broadway for Metromix NY. I'm usually disappointed by the titles that playwrights choose for their work: most of them don't sound tempting. Now I'm reviewing them.

Minetta Lane Theater
Building a title around numbers can be interesting―think Catch-22 or The Crying of Lot 49―but if there's one integer that's a dumb cliché, it's 666. It's been decades since the Number of the Beast actually implied “evil.” Whether this show is about actual Satanists, a washed-up hair-metal band, or something else entirely, its title is a miss.

The Kitchen
If this title just name-checked the Roman goddess of war, it would be alright. But the sub-phrase “Destroyer of Cities” adds a Homeric grandeur that gets me excited about the show. See, 666? This is how you strike a tone of heavy metal thunder. And BDoC trumps the title of the novel it's based on, Delany's Dhalgren: nonsense poetry that flips the syllables in the name of Beowulf's enemy.

Ars Nova
It's a hardcore week, isn't it? This one sounds like it could be a power ballad! It's evocative, but what does it evoke? What is a bloodsong, anyway? The words aren't euphonic, so this title isn't as poetic as it wants to be. Not perfect, but maybe it's the sort of title that pegs the show so well, it couldn't be anything else.

The Barrow Group
As one-word titles go, Phoenix offers a lot. It's a mythic allusion that's got built-in imagery (fire & birds) and themes (rebirth). It's also one of the biggest cities in the US, so the title can pull double-duty by establishing the setting.

The Wild Project
Frankly, as titles go, this one sounds a little too self-important. The word "realm" has a medieval connotation that's dangerous―it could just as easily refer to a fantasy MMPORG as anything. Which may be okay, if that's what the show's about. But ultimately, I suspect that The Realm aims to sound epic, but is actually just vague.


Leah said...

I really love these posts. I'd be interested to hear how the first impressions stack up against the actual shows.

Hotspur said...

Thanks, Leah! I'm glad you're getting something out of 'em.

If you click thru on the title URL, you can check out the listings blurbs I write for Metromix. They'll give you a better idea of what each show is actually about!

Plus, I review some of the shows, maybe two or three a week. I guess I should link to those each week too.