Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Theater: Title Bout (July 6)

Every week, I compose listings on the week's new plays for Metromix NY. I'm often disappointed by the titles that playwrights choose for their work, so I'm reviewing their titles now. Not the shows (I haven't seen them yet) just the titles. To read about the content of each show, click through its link to my listings on Metromix NY.

This one-word title is surprisingly okay. The sole context for the word “bachelorette” is, of course, the rave-up thrown for a bride on the eve of her wedding. This writer implies the party by its omission while bringing focus to the protagonist. Clever!

Writers, take note: gerunds add a sense of dynamism. This title spells out the arc of the play: a love story (“falling”, lamely, has no secondary meaning here). The biblical allusion builds the love-object up nicely, suggesting she'll be strong-willed, possibly even an antagonist or at least the instigator of plot complications.

A utilitarian title, pretty dull. The works in the festival do better: the retro style of the Blind Boys of Alabama, the conceptual oddity of A Disappearing Number, the promise of spectacle in The Battle of Stalingrad. Worst title: the postmodern punctuation of Varèse: (R)Evolution.

What does PTP stand for? Knowing that might entice me to catch this festival; not knowing alienates me. Maybe that's deliberate, since the festival includes work like Plevna: Meditations on Hatred (the prickly Howard Barker, natch). The best title in this fest, no contest, is Lovesong of the Electric Bear.

I'm ambivalent here. The “motherhood” gives off a saccharine flavor of Victorian sentimentality, but the repetition of “sweet” suggests that it might be meant ironically.

Of this week's three festivals, this one's got the best name. Okay, so collapsing a phrase into one word is dubious. But I do enjoy the ambiguity: is it “under ground zero” or “underground zero”?

Even if it's not intentionally capitalizing on the popular musical TV show, this title should catch a few more eyeballs―which should be one of a title's goals. Actually, I like With Glee more than Glee, since the preposition implies the tenor of actions rather than a simple emotion.

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