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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A night at the Theater

At the opening night of the San Francisco run.

Updated: 20-Feb-09

The show was reviewed in the Chronicle this morning:

Theater review: 'Souvenir' strikes a chord
David Wiegand, Chronicle Staff Writer

Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins: Starring Judy Kaye and Donald Corren. By Stephen Temperley, directed by Vivian Matalon.

"Temperley's play is as much about Jenkins' long-suffering but loyal accompanist, Cosme McMoon, as it is about the lady herself. The play opens in 1964, 20 years after Jenkins' death, and McMoon is working the ivories at a New York piano bar. Soon enough, we're transported back to 1932, when he agrees to work with the tone-deaf Jenkins for one recital, just to pay the rent. He stays with her for 12 years. He has tried to suggest that "some of the notes are not quite ... secure," but Jenkins hears only what she wants to hear, in more ways than one. Have I mentioned that at the enormous heart of this whole enterprise is a bravura performance by Tony winner Judy Kaye..."
A very enjoyable night of theater, but I think Wiegand mostly missed it in the review. There is a bit of playwright sleight of hand going on here. The key performance of the play is indeed delivered by Judy Kaye. The title of the play points to her character - Florence Foster Jenkins. But the play itself is all about Cosme McMoon, who never leaves the stage, and almost never leaves his bench at the piano. While the audience is entertained by the comedic spectacle of Kaye's Florence, it is Cosme who wrestles with his dreams and ambition, learns, adapts, evolves, and accepts the triumph that life offers him.

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