My birthday was Friday and I had agonized for weeks about taking a trip. I knew I wanted to get out-of-town but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money since I’m hoping to move in the next month or so. But Eddie George of Tennessee Titans fame was in a Broadway musical and there was NO WAY I was missing that, so I jumped in the car and drove the ten hours to NYC.
I stayed at a lovely hostel called The New York Loft Hostel. It’s in Brooklyn and the nicest people work there. The exposed-brick rooms had huge windows and there was graffiti art everywhere. Very cool vibe. Brooklyn (or at least the part I was in) has become Hipster Central, which is cool with me because hipsters mostly keep to themselves and so do I. The short walk to the Metro was a fashion nightmare, though.
When I arrived late Friday afternoon, I didn’t have much time to relax because I had tickets to Prodigal Son, an Off-Broadway show at the Manhattan Theatre Club. This was a really great show written and directed by John Patrick Shanley, author of Doubt. I love Shanley’s work and Prodigal Son was no exception. An autobiographical-esque piece about a young working-class boy from the Bronx who attends a private Catholic school in New Hampshire, this play delves into the ego-driven life of a fifteen year old named Jim Quinn with oh-so-much to prove and the self-esteem of a beaten child. The beginning and end of the play ask if we “remember 15?” Oh, yes. I remember. It was a doozy.
Timothée Chalamet‘s performance (Jim Quinn) is one of the best I’ve seen, full of vigor and vulnerability. I found myself applauding his (and Shanley’s) words of “you don’t see me” to the authority figures in his life. I’ve felt that myself, the feeling of being looked down upon for no other reason than age or sex or class. Fuck that, I say, and here’s to you Jim Quinn.
Robert Sean Leonard of House, M.D. and Dead Poet’s Society fame plays Alan Hoffman, an English professor who takes a shine to Jim and keeps him under his wing. This role was a stretch for Leonard in my opinion, as I am used to seeing him play the do-gooder Wilson on House. He was much more loose with the rules in this role and provided excellent support to Chalamet on the stage. Great performances abounded throughout the play, although no one really got a chance to shine like Chalamet. I did, however, fall in love with the beautiful Annika Boras as Louise Schmitt, the headmasters wife and professor. Her restrained portrayal of an opinionated woman in the 1960’s was nothing short of masterful.
From the program notes:
This play is my account of that time, the period during which my whole life was being decided. It is a true story for the most part. The changes I’ve made have been to simplify, or to make a point.
Most of the names remain unchanged, or only slightly altered. I wish you could have been there. I wish more generally that you could have shared my whole life with me, so we could discuss and compare. These plays I write are the best I can do to make that possible.
Oh, John. I wish the same and thank you for your stories.
After the play ended I took the Metro back to the hostel and quickly fell asleep. I will continue my story tomorrow. Stay tuned!