by David Schmader
In The Evening, writer/director Richard Maxwell uses three actors, three musicians, and On the Boards' vast mainstage for a 50-minute exploration of familiar shapes and predictable patterns and what it feels like to break free. As a theater-maker, Maxwell is known in large part for his style, with actors blurting out their bursts of words in a manner that's part flat-affect/part reading-off-a-cuecard, and perfect for their resurrected-cliche personas. In The Evening, we get an up-and-coming fighter, his lovably shifty manager, and The Girl, who has both a secret and a gun, all of which are crammed in a lyrical miniature replica of every shitty bar you've ever set foot in. When the gun goes off, blood flies, but the injured parties refuse to break their deadpan composure or even die. By the end, the bar is left behind, and we're left wandering in a wilderness so impressively rendered that numerous audience members took photos with their...
by Sean Ryan
The Evening by Richard Maxwell | New York City Players brings to life a world of archetypes, mere shapes, like the signs that depict men and women’s bathrooms. A world lackluster of adornment, stripped of the acting shtick. A world full of presence, musicality, awareness and commitment in the telling of the simplest story. To attain what you desire. A story that began from walking on a street in Toulouse, France seeing a man with an arm in a sling. He is a Fighter. This Fighter must have a Lover. This Lover is a woman, rather a bartender and stripper. In their world there must be a down-and-out Manager. They are outcasts, undesirables yet have each other. Where do they meet? At the bar … enter the Band. Utterances abound, “what am I?” “This isn’t a prison” “I think we got left behind, caught between two worlds ever changing.” This is the world of Richard Maxwell. A world moved by his passion of the absurd, the absurd that resides in the telling of a story in the...
by David Bucci
About ten years ago, I saw one of Richard Maxwell’s plays at PS122 in New York. On the sidewalk after the show, I remember my inscrutable playwriting professor proclaiming that Maxwell was the “East Village David Mamet.” As a fan of Maxwell’s work, I was defensive and dismissed the observation as downtown, back-handed snark. However after seeing The Evening, I’m finally seeing the connection. The Evening plays like Brecht on Quaaludes directing a Mamet short.
Mamet drives his plays with language and character, but Maxwell drives his work with spectacle, specifically anti-spectacle. The flat, declamatory style, contained in a rough diorama, seems to direct all the dialogue to the audience more than the other characters onstage.
One of my favorite Maxwell gimmicks was his use of awkward pauses to create a herky jerky rhythm in his intentionally banal text. In The Evening this...
by Soren Gillaspy
Overall, I think The Evening was a step in interesting directions for performance, but didn't fully make it. There was too much attachment to the story and the characters, and it relied on actors to alienate the audience without as much help from the script as could be given. I appreciated the way the flat delivery allowed for the audience to fill in the emotional blanks with a personal story, but the difference in commitment to a lack of character from the actors lead to a confusing performance.
Something mentioned frequently about Richard's work is a flat delivery emotionless. This was one of the things I appreciated about the performance. By simply saying the lines, I personally inserted a lot of emotion into them. It also made the words that were shouted have much more of a punch to them than I would otherwise expect, although I would have been so interested to see the script...
by LoraBeth Barr
The weight of the room is palpable when Beatrice begins telling a story that is clearly not her own. A story full of vivid images, from a Native American man walking into the kitchen unannounced to a struggle with a dying man and his catheter. And when I say the room I mean, not the fictional place depicted on stage made of cardboard walls and utilitarian furniture, I mean the witnesses of the evening, the audience who bare the eternal burden of watching these actors pretending not to pretend.
I call it a burden because the nature or existential theater is isolating and depressing, with an emphasis on individual will over the whole. The Evening depicts a struggle between three archetypes; Asi, a fighter Beatice, a wanderer and Cosmo, a person who has given up, stuck in a lonely bar where even the live rock band is dampened by the oppressive lingering weight of aloneness.
I wonder if it is the acting style or the material that creates this weight and I’m...
by Thomas May
Thomas May reviews The Evening at Memeteria:
...Although Maxwell has been engaged by On the Boards before (Drummer Wanted 12 years ago, back when Lane Czaplinski took over as artistic director), last night’s Seattle premiere was my first encounter with his work.
And it’s a signature of Maxwell’s theater that it sends you out into the night with the feeling that you’ve just recalled an interesting dream and now have the work of trying to figure out why it interested you and whether it’s trying to “tell” you something — or just happens to be an arresting collage of images that just won’t stop flickering in your mind.
The Evening involves a cast of three characters interacting in a depressing dive bar. Beatrice (Cammisa Buerhaus) tends bar and manages the sexual advances of the hedonist Cosmo (Jim...
by Kristen Kosmas
i wish i could have seen it with you. and you and you. i'm glad i saw it with you, and also i wish i could have seen it with you. because bonfire, because bird events, because island, because istanbul. because of the thing you can't prepare for that isn't going to happen, and because we too should celebrate something from a year ago. because of missing people, and because of missing people. because i speak my heart, because i'm not gonna lie, because i like this place. because beer beer beer jello jello. because we too need someone to show us how to fight to the death. think you can show us how to fight to the death? because we too converge backwards. because of oases of dark shaded green and because it is possible to disappear quietly into the bottom of the other side. and because it is possible to breathe in unison. and to whisper. and to climb on the table. and sing.
by Taylor Westerlund
Letting go. Richard Maxwell has mastered the art of letting go. Of the preconceptions of what theater must be. Of what a script must look like. And of "how to" format a play. No wonder the New York City Players are doing so well on the other side of the States. Luckily, for us, the character's in The Evening do not have the "letting go" thing down. In order to continue with the trend...this response will not follow the traditional format of "reviewing a play", instead, here is a list of thoughts that followed me home tonight:
"Unwritten without form".
"Look at you. You used to be in such great shape. Now you just get high and eat pizza."
Reflections of ourselves.
Pristine, Snow-capped, Lonely Mountaintops.
Just barely missing the connection.
Death, and Rebirth.
Whether you're fighting, surviving, or...