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The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence

macnyc Profile Photo
macnyc
Broadway Legend
joined:7/26/08
Has anyone seen this? It just began previews at Playwrights Horizons. I'm going tonight, and will report back.
ghostlight2
Broadway Legend
joined:12/5/04
Haven't seen it but I will be very interested in hearing your report, thanks.
swoboda
Understudy
joined:4/26/11
This started previews last night. I'll be there for tonight too.
WiCkEDrOcKS Profile Photo
WiCkEDrOcKS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/04
Anxious to hear how this is. Even as a PH subscriber, I have (so far at least) opted to skip SEA MONSTERS as it doesn't seem to be something I'd enjoy. So I'm curious how this production is...look forward to hearing your thoughts!
Current Avatar: Tony-winner Idina Menzel, delivering a sucker-punch of an 11:00 number, "Always Starting Over," in IF/THEN.
April Saul
Broadway Legend
joined:2/17/06
Oh Wicked, you chickened out of Sea Monsters? It was a wild ride
swoboda
Understudy
joined:4/26/11
I enjoyed this tremendously. Very poignant in its depiction of the foibles and rewards of connecting with each other. The context of historical fictional characters as well as real figures gives an almost surreal feeling. The best thing I've seen which looks at the limits of technology.
After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
A stultifying stream of blather and babble. The boredom is staggering.



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WiCkEDrOcKS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/04
...Of course.
Current Avatar: Tony-winner Idina Menzel, delivering a sucker-punch of an 11:00 number, "Always Starting Over," in IF/THEN.
stevenycguy
Broadway Star
joined:12/7/05
What is the running time? The running time is still listed as TBA on ticketcentral.com.
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macnyc
Broadway Legend
joined:7/26/08
Well, I'm with After Eight on this one. I had no idea what was going on. And the longer the play went on, the more baffled I became (I did stay for the whole thing). I liked John Ellison Conlee, though. He kept the evening from being a total loss.

Sorry, I didn't take note of the running time.







Updated On: 11/17/13 at 12:06 AM
swoboda
Understudy
joined:4/26/11
I think it's something like 2.5 hours, with the intermission.
mamaleh
Broadway Star
joined:5/11/04
Yes, it began about five minutes after eight and ended at 10:35. I liked the interesting mix of reality and fantasy at first, but too many speeches were long winded, adding little while diluting my pleasure and trying my patience. Also, I like Conlee but somehow he seemed miscast as the object of a young woman's instant attraction. At one point he's described as someone well younger than he appears to be, which threw me. And the play is simply too long; it needs judicious cutting.

One jarring element: Perhaps this was due to its being a very early preview, but the moving of I assume scenery and props behind the curtain while action was going on onstage was loud enough to be distracting.
Updated On: 11/17/13 at 01:37 AM
stevenycguy
Broadway Star
joined:12/7/05
By far, this is the worst show I have seen in 2013. I had no idea what this 2 hour 28 minute convoluted mess was about. Were they playing multiple characters - Sherlock Holmes, Watson, some geeky techno guy, etc? The babble was completely lost on me. The last scene sitting on the sofa was particularly monotonous - they just were talking and talking and talking endlessly.

The very bright lights during 2 scene changes in Act I blinded the audience and really hurt my eyes. The music at the beginning of Act II was extremely loud as well.

It's as if this theater thinks the way to create a theater show is: "Pick up a pen and keep writing until you get to 2 hours 30 minutes. It doesn't matter if you go on and on. It doesn't matter if it makes any sense. Just keep writing." Length does not mean good! I think they really need to get an editor who does not currently work for them, who can help them shape their plays better. It was weird how the laughter seemed to be coming from the last row (the people who worked at the theater who were taking notes) and a select few people scattered throughout the theater (perhaps people who also worked at the theater). Several people were nodding off and most people never laughed once.

Updated On: 11/18/13 at 12:32 AM
swoboda
Understudy
joined:4/26/11
They WERE playing various roles. Sherlock Holmes was not one of them though. His assistant Watson, Watson the creation of the modern day techno woman, Watson the Alexander Graham Bell assistant, and Watson the computer repair guy were played by one actor. Another actor was Alexander Bell, the lovelorn auditor candidate, and Merrick the inventor. The woman played different characters too. I agree it was challenging to parse through some of the changes in character but not impossibly so. I thought the script was intelligent and engrossing.
I'd highly recommend this as it's a challenging and extremely well done piece. It doesn't offer any easy answers which makes it more interesting.
After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
"It's as if this theater thinks the way to create a theater show is: "Pick up a pen and keep writing until you get to 2 hours 30 minutes. It doesn't matter if you go on and on. It doesn't matter if it makes any sense. Just keep writing." Length does not mean good!"

Well observed. But really, what would induce this company to follow a different path when they know the critics have their backs? The critics sure as hell don't care if audiences are bored or annoyed, as witness their raves for such blather-filled trials as Detroit, The Flick and the excruciating Mr. Burns. Indeed, when audience members walked out in previews complaIning about the length of The Flick, the company just dug in its heels and then cited the critics as vindication. Maybe if subscribers stopped subscribing things might change, but I'm not sure if even that would do the trick.

Updated On: 11/18/13 at 04:41 AM
swoboda
Understudy
joined:4/26/11
Reading your comment was quite a trial of blather...or perhaps babble....either one would be right.
After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
^

Then you should have liked either.
I'mseeingbraille57
Chorus Member
joined:12/25/06
Caught this last night and while it took a good part of the first act to get going, I thought by the time the second act rolled around it developed into something really beautiful and engaging. This is still pretty safe and not overly experimental in form but the play sort of is seeking to look at the Watson character in a couple of different stories, weaving together Watson from Sherlock Holmes, Watson of Bell and Watson and the recent Watson computer that beat the two reigning champions of jeopardy. The story focuses around a woman who is developing computer technology based off this Watson computer which is a high tech AI machine. The play very smartly weaves together how the Watsons of the world, the sidekicks, the unsung heroes that are at the heel of every extraordinary person, affect our lives on the reg.

The kind of work Playwrights Horizons done isn't particularly experimental when it comes to form, they just aren't willing to cater to a society that demands filmic pacing and MTV quick cuts because our attention span has gone to ****. This play is very typical of what PH generally has to offer, and in a great way I think. It's a play that makes you think about the people you are sitting next too, and actually might make you feel something too.
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macnyc
Broadway Legend
joined:7/26/08
I completely missed the theme of the sidekick, the unsung hero. It's a good motif, but I don't think it was developed enough. I didn't see these three Watsons as having anything in common except the name. (The IBM computer was named after the president of the company, not Sherlock Holmes's aide.) And the dweeb team guy could have been named anything.

As far as modern attention spans, you are correct in your assessment. Still, I had trouble maintaining my focus during some of these monologues, especially Merrick's. In contrast, over at the Belasco, I had no trouble with those.

Updated On: 11/18/13 at 10:45 AM
swoboda
Understudy
joined:4/26/11
There was a definite link with all the different Watsons from my eyes. They were all helpers and genuine in their almost compulsive need to assist. This is what attracted them to the other characters they came in contact with. The Watsons were almost seductive in this way.
At the end of the play, Bell's Watson gives a touching and affecting expansion about this. I found this section, where he speaks into the microphone with the present-day woman as his interviewer, saying there are few real extraordinary people, but behind them are many more who have had direct influence on their groundbreaking endeavors, one of the best parts in the play.
PlayItAgain
Broadway Legend
joined:11/8/11
What a mess, and this is from someone who enjoyed The Flick and Detroit. Overly complicated, not much of a payoff, the transitions in the first act just kill the energy. Very disappointing considering the cast and the excellent things they have previously been in, if the critics give this a rave i'm throwing in the towel. Had they cut 30 minutes of it and focused it more on The woman in present day, the husband in present day John Watson (the techno guy) and Watson (the computer program the main women is making) this could have been alot easier and interesting. I am kind of getting tired of these plays that have these ambiguous endings just because these playwrights don't seem to know how to end a play, I'm not asking for a bow but come on the couch scene just goes on and on and then ends.
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HogansHero
Featured Actor
joined:2/26/12
Playitagain-I think you hit all of my notes on this one. I liked the first act but really thought the scene transitions (and those damn noisy curtains) were about as flat-footed as anything I've ever seen at Playwrights. Then I think the whole thing got way too wordy and ended up officially running out of steam before it ended. Fine acting, disappointing direction (both because it didn't find a more economical way to transition and also because it didn't force the playwright to become more economical and more focused).