Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Theater: Title Bout (May 17)

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.

Is this a Shakespeare play titled for the Age of Twitter? Or would that be H4.1 and H4.2? Then it's the final shot in a cutthroat game of Battleship? Or a more generic grid location? A pun on “age four”? Please drop other suggestions in the comments!

I like this title's confessional, slightly lurid mid-20C quality, like I Was a Teenaged Werewolf. Presuming it's accurate, the title also gives us a period and subject: the legendary lawman of Tombstone, AZ.

As generic as this definite-article/noun title is, the topic can easily send a potential audience down an whimsical avenue in search of the theme. After all, isn't all theater just an illusion? Isn't life? In fact, this is an adaptation of Cornielle's 17C drama L'Illusion comique, usually translated as The Theatrical Illusion. The original French title focuses on genre, not medium, and hints at the illusion's delight.

One of the great titles of 20C drama. It's such an odd statement! Just what transpires in this show that requires clarification about who shouldn't be burnt? Witchcraft, probably, but it does inspire the imagination. And the iambic syncopation makes the title so memorable.

This title wears its subject on its sleeve; it's a play about an amputee. That missing limb has the potential to be a smart symbol as well.

A bit of poetry that Will might appreciate. Every vowel sound is long, with the “ay” echoing across the gap of the “ee”, making it three stressed syllables, and the sibilant “s” acting as glue. As for content, this title conjures a ironic character from the imagination: a slave owned by one of the most compassionate depicters of human nature.

The reference to the Twin Towers helps to date this play's period, but so, cleverly, does the allusion to that lapsed style of classified ads. It's a play about an apartment search and roommate situation, with the heavy portent of the terrorist attacks implied as well. Does 9/11 figure in? Even if not, that reference has been activated.

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