Being deprived of Broadway theater because of my favorite younger daughter’s move from the NYC to Miami (previously discussed Here) and because I felt i needed to repair my tarnished reputation with my wife for the Chinese ‘Debacle’ (also discussed earlier), I took my good friend Mary L’s advice that the only DC theater currently worth attending was Alan Bennett”s The Habit of Art **** at the Studio Theatre.
Ah, thank you Mary.
At last, a Studio Theatre presentation that I could both understand and recommend to others.
Bennett has been writing plays for the past 50 years, starting with Beyond the Fringe, and including Talking Heads, The Madness of George III, and, most recently, The History Boys.
The Habit of Art opened a few years ago to very strong (positive) reviews in London but has never been produced in the US. I’m not sure why not.
Briefly it’s a play within a play about actors rehearsing a play based upon an imagined meeting between former friends W.H. Auden and Benjamin Britten, just near the end of their lives. If you know that much, and read the ‘Note’ from the Dramaturg in the program, you will find the action easy to follow and the issues faced by artists well drawn and thoughtful.
The two leads, Ted van Griethuysen (Fitz/Auden) and Paxton Whitehead (Henry/Britten) are terrific, and most of the other actors and actresses are fine also.
The play has been extended twice and will close soon, October 30. So if you are interested, don’t tarry.
(PS – Ellen thoroughly enjoyed the play, tho I’m not sure she has yet forgiven me for my previous choice of theater.)
Nancy Cedar Wilson said:
Just saw this yesterday, and have to agree it was terrific–Van Griethuysen was outstanding, and the whole production was superb–funny, intelligent, moving, etc–an interesting character study of Auden, really–as well as Britten—some might say, also, rather sad aspects of aging homosexual life—