I have good news. I can reassure the pure of heart authoritatively: the letters “C” and the “K” in MOTHERFUCKER have been tastefully replaced by asterisks on the marquee of the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on West 45th Street in Manhattan.
If you look up, the asterisks twinkle back at you, and you can hardly tell it’s a naughty word, which is just as well because this is a wrenching serious, unforgettable comedy
For me this outing started as a lark on this gorgeous summery afternoon. I never go to the theater alone, but I decided to treat myself to the Wednesday matinee. (Since asterisks are not part of my own alphabet I usually spurn them in this blog and keep to the basic 26 letters. But you had to see the marquee.)
I do mean I treated myself to the play; I mean indulged, caroused, reveled in the fine acting and in the comedy and the tragedy of intricate, tangled lives of people who could easily be neighbors of mine and who surely ride the subways with me.
Visualize (me) a female in her eighth decade who can neither see much nor hear well and is neither fleet of foot nor agile of mind – if ever – yet is still a busybody eager to see and hear ALL! But I am profoundly limited. Quite frankly, I am the stingiest person I know, constrained by vivid Depression memories. I vividly recall rare cherished ten cent admissions paid to a neighborhood movie house (plays were not part of my childhood or youth) where I watched REAL DRAMA: wondrous Shirley Temple and Jane Withers and Mickey Rooney. That admission price seems tattooed forever on my brain.
But this is 2011! Oh, brave new world! No REAL money actually had to leave my purse. Telecharge magically arranged things for me: handicapped seating, second row center, billed $121.50! I did not even have to sign my name. For this invisible transaction, at the theatre I got, as well, an infra-red hearing device and the tutelage of a kind technician (A saint!) who explained the operation of the device three times and then – positive that even I could do it – pointed me toward my seat with his blessings.
I go. The play begins. The hearing device works marvelously. Then for the next hour and a half I am all entangled with the playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis’s five oddly attractive characters, drug users and abusers, lovers and betrayers, marginal people, fellow New Yorkers whose lives are a continual struggle. Their language is rich, often hilarious and markedly obscene and memorable. All of them it seems to me, truly “mean well” in their hearts; they repeatedly and brilliantly can talk the talk in wonderfully explosive language but, alas, in the end none of them can walk the walk. It is a sad and thoughtful comedy. It is indeed a tragedy through which they and we have laughed.