The Substance of Fire at Second Stage

PlayItAgain
Broadway Legend
joined:11/8/11
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/11/14 at 03:30am
while i keep in mind it was only a first preview yikes! ive seen a good 20 productions at Second Stage over the last few years, this was the first out right dud.

All the pieces are there for a great production but ultimately the picture never comes together, and whats ultimately to blame is the play itself, which after 23 years has not held up well, this is socialite white theater at its definition, well off characters with no real issues that contains 90% references to things that fly over the general audiences head. Also the plays two acts feel incredibly disjointed. My major issue was with the direction, these characters are suppose to be incredibly damaged and desperately fighting for the family legacy and all of it is restrained, the actors never feel as frustrated or angry or desperate as the situation calls for and i'm not sure why Cullman is directing these actors to not be more intense about these things thus causing the audience to not connect with these characters.

The positives, the set design is pretty amazing and John Noble is fantastic apart from that the rest is kind of a mess

proceed with caution, or you may get burned by the fire.
Wee Thomas2
Leading Actor
joined:2/28/12
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/11/14 at 11:25am
Second Stage is probably my favorite Off Broadway venue, but we saw one dud there a few years back. Mr. & Mrs. Fitch. Lithgow in a Douglas Carter Beane show and it was a real dragger of a show.
mamaleh
Broadway Star
joined:5/11/04
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/11/14 at 12:12pm
Unfortunately, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE was a Second Stage dud, too--and I really wanted to like it. Great cast, poor material.
stevenycguy
Broadway Star
joined:12/7/05
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/11/14 at 12:20pm
What time is an 8pm show "out on the street"?
PlayItAgain
Broadway Legend
joined:11/8/11
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/11/14 at 04:22pm
^ about 10:25
Mr Roxy
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/11/14 at 06:40pm
Did enjoy Mr & Mrs Fitch.
Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth - Lillian Hellman.
Borstalboy
Broadway Legend
joined:2/9/04
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/11/14 at 07:05pm
Was the acting good, at least?
"It's now rather very common to hear people say 'I'm rather offended by that'. As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more than a whine. It has no meaning, no purpose. It has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that'. Well, so f**king what?"--Stephen Fry
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/11/14 at 09:12pm
Am I the only one who thinks Baitz' plays are reminiscent of TV movies and soap operas? Only without the close-ups. I thought the Taper production of FIRE 20-odd years ago was like a "very special episode" of DYNASTY.
MrBaxter
Swing
joined:4/11/14
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/11/14 at 11:12pm
Updated On: 4/18/14 at 11:12 PM
RippedMan
Broadway Legend
joined:8/14/05
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/11/14 at 11:25pm
I was in the minority that Other Desert Cities was terrible. I HATE when a play is just a bunch of people sitting around "revealing family secrets." It was tedious and horribly boring.

I can't imagine this is any better or worse. It sounds like the same sort of retread of an idea.
stevenycguy
Broadway Star
joined:12/7/05
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/12/14 at 12:25am
I found this to be a well-acted drama, with a great cast and a very fancy set. Act I is set in the 1980s where the father is arguing with his three adult children over the direction he wants to take his publishing business. Quite a lot of shouting and fireworks in Act I. Act II takes place over 3 years later on a cold winter night, when you learn what happens to each of the three siblings, as well as what happens to the family's publishing business. John Noble and Charlayne Woodard have a great rapport with each other on stage. The last scene is especially poignant - pay attention to the cough into the napkin, and the two characters who walk out together just as the show is ending. I really enjoyed this show. And if you go during the first week of previews, you'll get free cake downstairs on your way out (just before you reach the box office) - a choice of tasty chocolate or lemon/white cake. 2 hours 18 minutes, including intermission.



Updated On: 4/12/14 at 12:25 AM
PlayItAgain
Broadway Legend
joined:11/8/11
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/12/14 at 12:29am
^ ok thanks plant.
RippedMan
Broadway Legend
joined:8/14/05
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/12/14 at 12:52am
A cake?! WTF.

What's the set like?
chrisampm2
Broadway Star
joined:5/26/07
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/12/14 at 02:04am
PlayItAgain, are you calling stevenyc a plant?
PlayItAgain
Broadway Legend
joined:11/8/11
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/12/14 at 11:52am
yes, look at how weirdly written his post is....
Borstalboy
Broadway Legend
joined:2/9/04
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/12/14 at 12:22pm
Cakes. Ooooo-kay.
"It's now rather very common to hear people say 'I'm rather offended by that'. As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more than a whine. It has no meaning, no purpose. It has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that'. Well, so f**king what?"--Stephen Fry
Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/12/14 at 12:28pm
I'm glad Second Stage had the foresight to plant him here 9 years ago for this moment.
sinister teashop
Understudy
joined:3/5/08
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/12/14 at 01:23pm
"Socialite white theater"

I think there's an element of truth to that on a superficial level. Beneath that level in Baitz' plays there's an often sincere attempt to critique that class. Theater isn't just a visual brochure that expresses diversity or lack of diversity. It's also about the political risks it takes below that surface. That said, I disliked the calculated quality of OTHER DESERT CITIES so much that I'm not eager to revisit Baitz' more sincere earlier works.
"Riches of the imagination, not the imagination of riches." - Charles Ludlam
chrisampm2
Broadway Star
joined:5/26/07
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/12/14 at 03:06pm
PlayItAgain, that's stevenycguy's style. No one's called him out on it before, though he's been here for almost a decade. And I don't see a pattern of pushing Second Stage shows. To dismiss him categorically, with little evidence yet that he's the only person out of an avalanche of naysayers, seems presumptuous and rude. We're not talking Soul Doctor here. This is a play that's been judged good enough to be produced in town by Playwrights Horizons, LCT, and now 2nd Stage. It's runs were successful enough to merit a film adaptation and regional productions across the country.
That doesn't make it good necessarily. But so far, Stevenycguy just seems like someone who disagrees with you.
April Saul
Broadway Legend
joined:2/17/06
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/13/14 at 12:28am
I get that the OP can't conceive of anyone liking this show, but jeez, stevenycguy is hardly a plant...come on now!
PlayItAgain
Broadway Legend
joined:11/8/11
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/13/14 at 12:46am
sorry his writing came off very strange, the cake thing is what mostly threw me.
jbm2
Broadway Star
joined:3/26/11
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/13/14 at 01:54am
Is this a new play? Or an old play being re-staged?
scripps
Stand-by
joined:10/30/06
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/13/14 at 02:56am
I clicked on this thread by accident, and had no idea that Dr. Walter Bishop and free cake were involved in this. I think I have to check this out regardless of what everyone is saying!
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/13/14 at 06:52pm
It's an old play. It ran at the Mark Taper Forum in LA in the early 90s, I believe, and per a poster above, this is its third trip to New York City. And it was very well received critically. So although I was underwhelmed by it, many other people have enjoyed it.

None of us need apologize, I don't think. Baitz is certainly not a "stupid" writer: he knows what he wants to accomplish.
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/13/14 at 09:14pm
Baitz stuff does play like soap opera--though I usually like his work (I like soap operas too--and I admit, I don't know this play.) Probably why ABC hired him to create Brothers and Sisters for them (which he left early on when ABC dictated too many changes like, according to his blog, forcing him to write in a character who they asked be "young, female and blonde"--oddly I see he has a new drama on ABC that's been picked up for the Fall.)
Roscoe
Broadway Legend
joined:5/15/03
The Substance of Fire at Second Stage
Posted: 4/14/14 at 11:58am
I was wondering how this play would hold up. I saw it at Lincoln Center years back, with Ron Rifkin and Sarah Jessica Parker and Daniel Breen and I think John Benjamin Hickey, and enjoyed it a good deal. It did feel rather rushed, though, as if entirely too much was being talked about, which wasn't a complaint I had about the film (scripted by Baitz and with Rifkin) which felt a lot more leisurely somehow -- the story and characters could develop on their own without feeling crammed into two sets. Check out the film, there's a lot to recommend it, I think.
"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." Thomas Pynchon, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." Philip K. Dick My blog: http://www.roscoewrites.blogspot.com/

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