Friday, April 09, 2010

Vigil at ACT

American Conservatory Theater
Written and directed by Morris Panych
April 7, 2010 8pm

Cast: Marco Barricelli and Olympia Dukakis

Wednesday I caught Vigil at A.C.T., a two-hander black comedy about a middle-aged man who comes to attend what he expects to be the imminent death of his elderly aunt. The action takes place in a tall cluttered attic with tilting doors & windows. It looks like it is about to collapse in on itself. The play consists of many short episodes ending in black-outs, some long enough for only one line. I don't know what to make of the play, other than to say its major theme is clearly loneliness. At the end of the 1st act, a gentleman seated in front of us turned around & pronounced the whole thing a "shaggy dog story." He pointed out how the ending had already been telegraphed, & indeed he was quite correct about the important revelation in the 2nd act. My theater companion & I had no idea who this astute fellow was, but he was reading a very thick book entitled Nixonland.

The A.C.T. audience was very attentive & laughed at all the right lines, & I think some people were even sniffling at the end. In the last scene, though, when the man enters with a metal canister, we heard someone ask her companion what that was. We happened to be attending on an Out With A.C.T. night, which meant that after the performance we were entitled to a glass of wine & some very sweet brownies downstairs. We sat in a crowd that was only slightly more gay-friendly than your average SF theater audience. I was told that sometimes the actors attend the reception & that popchips were given out freely the last time, but neither turned out to be the case this evening.

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