Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Theater: Title Bout (December 14)

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.

An adaptation of the classic gothic horror novel. If you're going to name your work after a character, better make him or her memorable! Bram Stoker's antagonist is one of the most enduring fictional characters of the 19th century. FYI, the word means 'dragon' in Romanian, & its uncanny, foreign set of sounds contributes to the appeal.

One of the great titles of all time, largely because the play's content―Wilde's puckish irony & his punning on Ernest/earnest―subverts the title's superficial meaning. The phrase itself suggests a moral parable on a pretty dull subject and it could serve as the message of plenty of lukewarm rom-coms. But imagine the prank on a ticketholder who expects moral rectitude!

'Mummenschanz' is a medieval German phrase with a tortuous derivation. More generally, mummers are European folk performers in the same loose genre as mimes, clowns, jugglers, etc. So who are Mummenschanz? Swiss hippie performers who draw on that folk tradition. The name is untranslatable, so the word pretty much refers directly to the troupe at this point.

A slippery title that seems to point away from itself. What desert city is it talking about that it invokes 'others'? It somehow suggests the isolation that's part of a desert city anyhow. It's not a hugely memorable phrase but it is enigmatic.

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