Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Theater: Title Bout (July 19)

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 review their titles. Not the shows, just the titles. To read about the content of each show, click through its link to my listing.

It's not a glass that sets apart, it's a glass drunk when people part. The key is that the reference is Irish, and so it has a poetic style that more literal English-speakers might miss. It's actually the title to a 18C folk song that you might recognize; it was interpreted by the Clancy Brothers, Bob Dylan, and the Pogues.

Sean O'Casey came up with this title and drama. I haven't read the play (yet), but I'd guess the title refers to a significant prop or metaphor. A “tassie” is a cup or bowl; it's one of those British words with a whiff of archaism. “Silver” adds value, & conjures the image of something like a grail. As titles go, this is a little vague without context but it's unique and therefore memorable.

Even if you don't know this existential novel by Mishima―or the masterpiece of Kyoto architecture that it refers to―you might suspect it's set in Japan or at least the far East. The title has that non-European structure that doubles up on nouns (it's a temple and a pavilion) and ornaments the subclause delicately. The image is lovely, isn't it?

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