Thoughts on Modern Terrorism

winston89
Broadway Legend
joined:6/18/06
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/23/12 at 02:52am
Tonight I saw Modern Terrorism at Second Stage. I went in knowing nothing about it and only read the blurb on the website and it seemed interesting. It seemed like it could be funny and give an absurdist view on topical events. That was clearly the playwright's attempt. However, to say that it was a failed attempt is a bit of an understatement.

Without going into much detail, the attempt was to have the audience laugh at a band of misfit terrorists who come up with a plan to blow up the Empire State Building. The issue with that is that that concept made many in the audience uncomfortable. I can't tell you the number of people I have heard say that this isn't something to joke about, or it's too soon during the intermission. There were also a good chunk of people who felt too uncomfortable and left at the intermission.

The cast is good and does a good job with the material. However, it's kind of hard to feel any bit of emotion for people who are planning to blow up a building.

I am someone who has a sense of humor that gives room for pushing the envelope a little. But, even I felt uncomfortable and regretted staying for the second act. I honestly can't say anything good about this show and do expect better from Second Stage.
"If you try to shag my husband while I am still alive, I will shove the art of motorcycle maintenance up your rancid little Cu**. That's a good dear" Tom Stoppard's Rock N Roll
PlayItAgain
Broadway Legend
joined:11/8/11
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/23/12 at 03:09am
If you read the title and the plot of the play surprises you and makes you feel uncomfortable, you are very naive . Obviously this is going to be a controversial production of a show thats meant to be satire (even the title is an homage to dr strangelove). Look I'm not totally heartless and 9/11 was a horrible horrible tragedy, but the fact that its 11 years later and people are still like, whoa too soon, then when can we talk about these things? if not now when? I think to call it a failed attempt is not fair because the audience was not receptive not because the pieces was good or bad but because they thought it was too soon to talk about it.
My Oh My
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/07
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/23/12 at 04:00am
People have been openly "talking about it" constantly since it happened. You know very well that isn't the problem and people can hardly be blamed for its failure in provoking laughter.

And, I don't know, but a piece that sets out to be funny and fails to stir the intended response, in this case laughter, is the very definition of a failed attempt.
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chrisampm2
Leading Actor
joined:5/26/07
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/23/12 at 05:14am
"A piece that sets out to be funny and fails to stir the intended response, in this case laughter, is the very definition of a failed attempt." Yes, My Oh My, that makes it a failed attempt for that viewer - not in the Bobbi Boland book of pitiful plays. I think it would be great if broad pronouncements about a play wouldn't surface at the very start of its run.

Two shows already this season have started out here with posts on their utter crapitude - If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet and Grace. Even Detroit wasn't greeted too positively at first. Yet days later better word of mouth started filtering in. If There Is ended up with many fine reviews and Detroit's a major critical hit.

I think Winston has every right not to like the play. But that doesn't necessarily mean it's a flop.
My Oh My
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/07
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/23/12 at 07:22am
I was addressing PlayItAgain's ideology and not so much taking Winston's word for it and calling it a flop without having seen it. Guess I felt the fact it is new and just started its run (not to mention me being in Los Angeles) made that clear without saying.

But maybe I should make it a point of specifying these things, and further gift y'all with more babble. *cuddles*
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Pammylicious
Broadway Star
joined:9/13/10
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/23/12 at 09:20am
I was there yesterday afternoon (second preview) and while it still needs work, I thought it was quite relevant and good. I saw no one walk out and there was a discussion with the author (who is a very young man), he explained why and how he wrote the play. The director was also present and I would say 2/3 of the audience remained. the author apparently was a boy who lived right near WTC and 9/11 impacted his life dearly. He help along with his parents at ground zero. When the Times Square bomber plot failed miserably he saw the humor in it and this play was born. He said he had two weeks to write it so I think it was for school.

April Saul
Broadway Legend
joined:2/17/06
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/24/12 at 05:42pm
Well, I totally disagree with Winston on this one. Yesterday I saw If There Is, I Haven't Found it Yet in the afternoon, and Modern Terrorism at night...and I have to say the latter was the better play of the two (although I thought Jake G. was terrific in his part!)

The writer--and Second Stage--are really gutsy to present this. Yes, there've been walkouts; last night, some couple tried to leave after 15 or 20 minutes and wound up going through a door that leads backstage, which was awkward. And there's a serious change in tone near the end, but I think I'm okay with that. But wow, this playwright Jon Kern can do dark humor like nobody else, the script was just incredible.

Of course, people have the right to say they're not ready for any kind of humor where terrorism is concerned, but I found this riveting. (Then again, Martin McDonagh is a fave of mine as well!)

Also appreciate Pammy's post about the playwright's own experience in being so close to Ground Zero and helping out after, which helps to understand where he's coming from here. But there's no denying his talent, and I'll keep an eye out for him in the future.

In terms of new plays, I am taking what folks say here with a grain of salt...there's a lot of purists on these boards, as well as the fact that the first few previews of a production don't always reveal what it will become. (And I know what I'm talking about, as I was at the invited dress rehearsal for Motherf***** with a Hat, and it wasn't very good then at all!)

winston89
Broadway Legend
joined:6/18/06
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/24/12 at 07:47pm
I wouldn't consider myself a purist at all. And, my personal sense of humor would leave others to say "you can't joke about that,that's not funny." So, I am okay with edgy humor, and I can find humor in things others wouldn't even consider joking about. I guess the thing is that I feel that it has to be done well. And, I don't believe that this play was done well. I feel that the attempt was there, and that the playwright did in fact try. However, I don't believe that it was overall, done well.


"If you try to shag my husband while I am still alive, I will shove the art of motorcycle maintenance up your rancid little Cu**. That's a good dear" Tom Stoppard's Rock N Roll
April Saul
Broadway Legend
joined:2/17/06
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/24/12 at 09:02pm
Hey Winston--I wasn't referring to you when I used the word "purist"...I was thinking about the other poster who said that often, people here are very rough on shows that he/she winds up enjoying. I've found reading these boards that especially with revivals, folks can be extremely critical, remembering earlier versions of shows that they've loved...hence the use of the word "purist."

But these things are really subjective; I would never criticize someone here for not liking a show that I liked, so I wanted to clarify that
bynster
Swing
joined:9/25/12
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/25/12 at 09:26am
I was one of the people who left early, and it had nothing to do with uncomfortable subject matter, and everything to do with poor writing. This was a dreadful play. Instead of dark humor, we had bathroom humor of the mainstream, lowbrow type. The playwright could not build any dramatic tension, and meandered around a provocative issue without getting anywhere in the first 20 minutes. We were surprised that the work won any prize at all.
Sauja
Broadway Star
joined:1/7/07
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/25/12 at 04:35pm
Did you leave after 20 minutes Bynster? I'm curious because for me, it the end, what I was so dazzled by with this play was that it did start out so stupid: it's dick jokes and potty humor, and the only thing interesting about that is the contrast with the bombing plot. But as the show went on, slowly teasing out deeper themes, hinting at the the intensity that was to come, and then it became actually shocking in the end, mostly by presenting a predictable scene that the playwright was able to subvert expectations about principally by giving us something so thin at the beginning.

Taken as a whole, I think this is an incredibly well-calibrated play that gets at some deeper truths by keeping the audience a bit off balance. One of the more interesting evenings I've had in the theater as of late. But to say it's going to be divisive is a massive understatement.
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themysteriousgrowl
Broadway Legend
joined:11/10/10
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/25/12 at 04:44pm

Hmm... put this way, April and Sauja, it sounds kind of fascinating.
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April Saul
Broadway Legend
joined:2/17/06
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/25/12 at 06:51pm
Growl--Go see it! People are either going to love it or hate it, but man, it's a very exciting piece and it's much cheaper to see it now than it will be later if it's as well-reviewed as I think it'll be. Can't wait to hear other people's opinions here...
After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/25/12 at 11:16pm
"If There Is ended up with many fine reviews and Detroit's a major critical hit. "

That's definitely more an indictment of today's critics than the posters here. The critics seem to derive perverse satisfaction in championing shows that they know people will hate, and which deserve to be hated.
PlayItAgain
Broadway Legend
joined:11/8/11
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/25/12 at 11:21pm
^ (rolls eyes) what a terribly delusional comment
After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/25/12 at 11:33pm
"(rolls eyes)"

No wonder you can't see straight.
RippedMan
Broadway Legend
joined:8/14/05
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/26/12 at 12:46am
After Eight, sorry, but that just makes no sense. Did all the critics ban together and decide to do that? Nope. They actually liked something.

I haven't seen any of them, so I can't say, but just commenting on your comment.
winston89
Broadway Legend
joined:6/18/06
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/26/12 at 01:48am
Let's see if I can get the straight. According to after eight, there is a conspiracy among all theatre critics. The Theory is, is that they ban together and say that they like shows that are actually bad in hopes of annoying theatregoeres ? Is that it?
"If you try to shag my husband while I am still alive, I will shove the art of motorcycle maintenance up your rancid little Cu**. That's a good dear" Tom Stoppard's Rock N Roll
themysteriousgrowl
Broadway Legend
joined:11/10/10
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/26/12 at 07:23am

Inventing conspiracies is the only way After Eight can justify his worldview.

Gee. Does this type of delusion remind anyone of a current political movement?
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After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/26/12 at 07:54am
No, there is no "conspiracy." Nor is there need for one.

No, there is no "banding together." Nor is there the need for any.

It's a question of mindset, which ends up with raves for shows that a public, sans parti pris or agendas, sees as they really are --- awful.
themysteriousgrowl
Broadway Legend
joined:11/10/10
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/26/12 at 08:02am

Except, of course, for those in the public, being of sound and free mind, who don't think they're awful and think the things that you like are awful.

Opinions, wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
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winston89
Broadway Legend
joined:6/18/06
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/26/12 at 12:42pm
After Eight, how can you say that what "the public" likes is bad. Did you go out and interview all of them?

"If you try to shag my husband while I am still alive, I will shove the art of motorcycle maintenance up your rancid little Cu**. That's a good dear" Tom Stoppard's Rock N Roll
broadfan327
Featured Actor
joined:3/20/08
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/26/12 at 12:55pm
I saw it Sunday night and enjoyed it thoroughly. I especially liked the performance of the neighbor. I agree, it is the kind of play either you will love it or hate it.
themysteriousgrowl
Broadway Legend
joined:11/10/10
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/26/12 at 01:04pm

Let me explain how this works, winston89.

But pay attention because I'll only explain it once.

If a show that After Eight enjoys does well, it proves that the public votes with their wallets and will support and sustain shows worth seeing. Similarly, bad shows close quickly. The cream rises to the top in the theater world.

If a show that After Eight does not enjoy does well, it's because the public has been hoodwinked into buying tickets by the critics, who themselves invent and encourage this phony positive word of mouth because they're sadistic snobs who hate and hold rather extraordinary power over their audience... I guess.

The public will eventually figure this out, however, and begin to vote with their wallets, and then the show will rightly close. This process may take 4 performances; it may take 4,000 performances. But it will happen eventually.

So, think of it this way --

Show A -- After Eight loved it; it ran for four years because it's a terrific crowd-pleaser that doesn't examine any unpleasantness because let's pretend unpleasantness doesn't exist.

Show B -- After Eight hated it; it ran for four years because that's how long it took audiences to free themselves of their collective, critically induced delusion, see it for the tripe it is, and reject it.

Understand?


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Updated On: 9/26/12 at 01:04 PM
Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/26/12 at 01:08pm
You forgot the third option.

Show C: Obscure show predating 1970 that no one remembers? After Eight probably loved it.
themysteriousgrowl
Broadway Legend
joined:11/10/10
Thoughts on Modern Terrorism
Posted: 9/26/12 at 01:27pm


Well, sure. Yeah. Whatever.

There are probably more options than A, B, and C, but they haven't been invented yet to justify After Eight's perspective in a given scenario.

He'll make those up when he needs them.

But I do quite enjoy the idea that theater critics are engaging in this collective behavior independent of one another, because, I guess, that's just what anyone who became a theater critic post-William Winter... inherently is.
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