Last week on Monday I went into Manhattan to see the revival of Cactus Flower and left at intermission. Last week on Thursday I went into Manhattan to see the revival of Arcadia and left at intermission. So, I started thinking to myself, am I too horribly critical? Have I lost my joy of theater? Then my rational mind kicks in: NO, I’m not and I haven’t. Neither of these two shows—though incredibly different—was worth my time.
Cactus Flower, written by Abe Burrows, is a not-very-good farce that was probably dated even when it was new in the 60s. I suppose comedy based on suicide, lying, slimy men, deluded women, obnoxious best friends, and oversexed patients can be funny. However, as it’s now being performed off-Broadway at the Westside Theater, it’s tortured. No, rather, I was tortured. Had I been sitting in an aisle seat I would’ve left after 20 minutes. There was no way this play was getting any better.
Arcadia, written by Tom Stoppard, is an elegant, thoughtful double play, taking place in the early 1800s and in the present. Conversations revolve around math, landscaping, poetry, sex, and the nature of genius. This is a play that, for me, required great concentration, and the fact that half of the dialogue was unintelligible made it almost unbearable to sit through. Fellow audience members complained of the same problem. While I can see that this play, on Broadway at the Barrymore Theater, is a worthy piece, it didn’t hold my interest.
I didn’t care about any of the characters on stage.
Maybe I’m just too busy to waste my time watching something I’m not enjoying. Maybe it’s the limited amount of time left in my life. (News Flash: I’m not getting any younger.) The simple fact is, I knew that, instead of sitting through the second acts of these plays, I could be at home reading, sleeping, crocheting, petting my cats, cooking, chatting with the very interesting members of my family, or contemplating my navel.
In the case of Arcadia, I hope someday to see a more worthwhile production, perhaps when I’m less tired, and it’s not torrentially raining.
In the case of Cactus Flower, I think root canal would’ve brought me more fun. At least I would have been anesthetized.
Holly Caster has lived in Nyack with her playwright husband, two kids, and two cats for over 10 years. She is by trade a writer and by nature a fan.