Staged readings at the Firehouse Theater, how do I enjoy thee? Let me count the ways.
I get to see a play that's never been produced in Richmond. The admission is a mere five bucks (free if you're a student or subscriber). They take place on Sunday nights when not a lot else is happening. They have a bar serving beer, wine and candy. It's really a no-brainer.
Tonight's offering was Itamar Moses' The Four of Us, a play about what happens when all your dreams come true...for your best friend. And while this hasn't happened to me, the premise was compelling enough to check it out.
It was a two-person comic drama about the friendship between two guys who meet at camp and whose lives stay loosely connected as one achieves his dreams of being a published novelist and the other struggles as an aspiring playwright.
Both Kyle Cornell and Jacob Pennington were strong in their roles as the two guys, each with obviously different personalities and distinct memories of the friendship's history. The "four" of the title seems to belong to the two of them and their egos...or the two of them as adults and young people. Who knows?
The play's scenes were not done in chronological order, an interesting construct that required the viewer to pay attention to what period in the characters' lives we were seeing at any given time. It also meant that sometimes full comprehension came only after seeing a later scene of a previous event.
The dialogue was particularly naturalistic, especially on the subject of their differences ("You have access to all these people, but you're too pop-culturally ignorant to appreciate it!"), which were considerable ("It's one of the things that makes you a seductive friend. You rarely seem to need anything from outside yourself.").
On the subject of sleeping around versus having a girlfriend, at issue was finding that feeling that comes with the new. "Why not have a series of very, very beginnings?"
That line comes during the "bear-f*cking scene," as it is identified in the script, along with the playwright's notes about just how far to push it without overdoing it. It's apparently a delicate balance and of great importance to the playwright.
The only reason I know that factoid is because after these staged readings, there is always a talkback with the director and actors so that the audience can satisfy their curiosity about, well, whatever they're curious about.
It should be noted that no one had to ask what the reverse cowgirl position mentioned in the bear-f*cking scene was.
Perhaps that speaks to the kind of people who attend staged readings. Make that Reason #5 why I enjoy them so much.