Thursday, 2 April 2015

IOWA by Jenny Schwartz and Todd Almond at Playwrights Horizons

     OK, folks, I give up. If this was a brilliant, groundbreaking piece of musical theater, it left me totally cold. Jenny Schwartz's lyrics sounded like they were written by a six year old and Todd Almond's "songs" were little more than chord progressions or chants. Schwartz's book had a few funny moments, but tries so hard to be cute and original with no concern for coherence. Playwrights Horizons is billing the work as absurdist theatre, but the great so-called absurdists like Beckett and Ionesco has a strong sense of form. They were great poets of the theatre. IOWA just throws stuff at the audience with no sense of coherence. I just wondered what drug Schwartz and Almond were on when they concocted this. Maybe I'm just too much of a stodgy traditionalist to get what this show was doing or even to care. I would have walked out of if I could have gracefully.
    What is the show about? Well a ditzy mother moves out to Iowa to marry a man with whom she has been having cybersex. When she gets there, she finds that he is a polygamist with a community of wives dressed in nineteenth century dresses. Along the way, we are offered heavy-handed parodies of types of conventional femininity such as cheerleaders and chorines. And a man dressed as a pony who canters on now and then.
     I sat there thinking about how brave actors are, particularly when they have to appear shamelessly in stuff like this. These courageous performers gave the show their all.
     I saw this on April Fools Day and wondered it some sort of April Fools' joke was being perpetrated.
IOWA. Playwrights Horizons. April 1, 2015.

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