Beane’s play really isn’t bad, but that throwaway joke is emblematic of what’s wrong with it, a humor that derives more from presumption than from inquiry, or even curiosity. (L.A. had 166 professional plays on the boards that week, compared to New York’s 197.) His play’s Teflon humor receives laughs but, like his L.A.-theater joke, gets to the heart of nothing in particular, an emptiness that most drama critics have to sit through three to four nights a week in cities across America.
Back in L.A.’s trenches, Circle X Theatre Company’s production of Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice at [Inside] the Ford is very encouraging, despite its physical resemblance to Yale Rep’s production earlier this year. Much, though not all, of Circle X’s Cineplex approach to live theater is forgiven, because John Langs’ production is so fine and Ruhl’s play, about the love triangle between Eurydice (Kelly Brady), her father (John Getz) and her groom, Orpheus (Tim Wright) — unfolding on Earth and in the Underworld — is such an arresting and fantastical look at growing up, growing old and saying goodbye.
Ruhl used her play to work something out, honestly, about fathers and daughters and husbands, about reality and myth. If you want a murder mystery, you can’t do better than Law and Order. If you want forensic empiricism, you can’t do better than CSI. But the theater can take us back into literature and music through an event that’s not prerecorded. Rather, it’s a live conjuring — personal and spiritual — a ballet, an opera and a magic act all rolled into one. If theater doesn’t aim for those heights, I don’t know what it’s for. Even when it fails to reach them, its aim will be truer than most of our current shows, whose producers are too nervous and harried even to try something ambitious. And if they can’t bother to try, why should we bother to show up?
THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED | By DOUGLAS CARTER BEANE | CORT THEATRE, 138 W. 48th St., New York City | Scheduled indefinitely | (212) 239-6200
EURYDICE | By SARAH RUHL | Presented by CIRCLE X THEATRE COMPANY at [INSIDE] THE FORD, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood| Through January 6 | (323) 461-3673