john_j_enright (john_j_enright) wrote,

Happy Opening

Cat opened well. We had a nice audience, 3 times the size of the sizable cast, and they laughed a lot, which meant their attention was held. Cat has a lot of humor in the script, but I fear it's not often found.

If you've never seen the show, but would like to, and you live in the area, I recommend it. It's a crisp production with a lot of strong performances.

Critical discussions of the play often focus on its tragic aspects, and it's a grim play in many many ways, but, on the other hand, it's a story about two hard-driving women who have married into a wealthy family who are competing to inherit and control that wealth. Hence, the cattiness. And the more sympathetic of the two unscrupulous women wins at the end. At least, this the ending in our version! The situation has its comic aspect.

Anyway, slight change of topic, the play has been published in at least three versions, and I was comparing two of them at the library yesterday. I found that the Broadway version had some of "my" lines in the mouth of Big Mama:

"In my day they had what they call the Keeley cure for heavy drinkers. But now I understand they just take some kind of tablets."

In one way it makes sense for me to say this. I'm the doctor in the room. But on Broadway it was a little monologue by Big Mama, thinking about possible treatments for her heavy-drinking son.

There's a follow-up line, one I've written about before:

"They call them 'Annie-bust' tablets."

In the Broadway version, Big Mama said this. In the later version, her other son says this. 'Annie-bust' is a pun on Antabuse, a pun hardly any younger person is going to recognize nowadays, because Antabuse is no longer in favor as a treatment for drinking problems.

Moving dialog from mouth to mouth is something playwrights are given to doing in the process of revision. They want to get some lines into the play, and they're not sure who should say them. In narrative fiction, if you have something you just want to say, you can say it as the narrator. But in stage plays, usually you've got to give your words to a character.

Everyone is accustomed
To a narrator on the page
But he's just another character
When you put him on the stage.

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