19 February, 2012

My Mister Man

The lights went out. Pitch black in a warehouse in Brooklyn. The silence was just as severe.

My heart was racing, which matched the sudden sounds of a man huffing, trying to catch his breath. It seemed an interminable moment...but then a light came on.

And there he was.

Thus began one of the most amazing nights of theatre I have ever experienced.

Right. Where to begin...? You all know that my favourite actor--of all time--is Cillian Murphy.
My Absolute Favourite Photo of CM. 

Yeah, I also have a mega-crush on the guy...but I can't get enough of his talent. When he did Enda Walsh's MISTERMAN at the Galway Arts Fest this past July, I was so upset that I couldn't afford to fly over and see it.

First off--Cilly Live on Stage?! Yes, please. Second, Cilly doing a one-man Enda Walsh play? Does it get any better? Enda Walsh is one of the greatest playwrights anywhere, not just a great Irish playwright. Go to the library and pick up one of his plays. Mesmerizing, cerebral, clever, with just enough quirk tossed in. He's brilliant. I've used a monologue from his DISCO PIGS a couple times. (While I absolutely adore that play, I don't suggest you start there as an introduction to him. Pig and Runt have created their own language, and it could be a difficult read. A movie was made out of it--which I love, and think you should see one of these days.)

ANYWAY. Sometime in August, it was announced that "they'd" be bringing MISTERMAN to St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn. In December. I cursed my calendar, knowing that I would have just made a major move to LA shortly before that. And then I said, "Screw it. Life is way too short." No, I had no clue how I was going to afford a plane ticket to New York. I didn't know where I was going to stay. I didn't even know if I'd have a home or a job in LA by that time. But by golly, I set a reminder in my calendar for the day the tickets went on sale...and then waited three excruciating weeks till I could buy my FRONT ROW ticket.

(I ended up staying with my friend Heather--it was so wonderful seeing her again after 10 years! We'd done several shows together in Germany, and it was great going over old times, and getting to hear the songs she's working on for her first album. Yay, Heather!!! We're always running, babe.)

I was really only in New York for a day and a half. If I'd planned it better, I would have stayed longer, so I could catch WAR HORSE on Broadway...but my thoughts were only on MISTERMAN. I was finally able to visit the Tenement Museum, though--my last two trips to NYC had been with too many other people and I was never able to go. But it was just me this time 'round, and I wasn't missing it. (Great museum...so much to see, so many different tours. But that's just New York for you. I'll never get enough of her. 2nd greatest city in the world, right? ;)  )

It at least has the best pizza in the world. Nuuummmmmyyyy. 

Anyway...I was so bloody excited to see MISTERMAN, and I couldn't believe the day was finally here. I was going to see Cillian Murphy. Live. From the front row. I just might get spit on, for God's sake. I promised I wouldn't use his DNA for nefarious purposes, but if I had run into a Mad Scientist, who knows what might have happened?

(As it was, no spitting was done. Alas. Just this:)

I shared with you (mostly through my Facebook page) every review of the show I could find. Though every one of them proclaimed the production and performance amazing, it still doesn't do it justice. Here are just a few articles and interviews:

Ben Brantley (NY Times) praises Misterman's "luminous madness that dares you not to look away"

Interview Magazine puts MISTERMAN among the most unique, intense theatre-going experiences one can have.

Black Book Mag's Interview w/ Mr. Murphy

'Of the many characters you’ve played, who do you think your audience relates to the most?
Aw, I don’t know. I’ve been an astronaut, a transvestite. If you do it well, hopefully people believe it. And that’s all I want to do, to do it well, and so therefore people should come out going, “That’s the character. That’s not Cillian Murphy.” That’s all I hope to achieve. That you can portray a character honestly, and not be limited to transvestite-astronaut roles, which I think I’ve gotten over.'

He does make a beautiful woman. Just sayin'.
Los Angeles Magazine calls his performance "staggering" and "gargantuan"
As an actor, you would LOVE to have reviews that read like these. As an actor, whatever the reviews said, you would love to have a chance to be in a production like this. I could get out my thesaurus to try to list every adjective to describe this show, and it still wouldn't be enough.

The whole thing is done in a warehouse--and if the venue isn't an actual warehouse, it's turned into one:

The space is almost a character itself...it's massive, and Cillian fills the entire space--not just physically, running from one end to the other as Thomas Magill, but emotionally, as well. Just standing there, the man fills the entire void.

His physicality was really something to behold. It's a one-man show, but you'd never believe it. His character embodies 6 or 7 of the town's inhabitants. In one scene, he's being beat up by nobody--you'd swear there was an invisible man on stage.

At one point, early on, I became Mrs. Leary, Thomas's older neighbour. He was twenty feet in front of me, and when he switched to Mrs. Leary, and I into Thomas, he reached out to pinch my cheeks...it was all I could do to not rush up and give him real cheeks to pinch. (The cheeks on my face. I'm not that bad--give me a bit of credit!)
Though I imagine, if I had rushed up, his expression would be something like this.  We are not amused. 
Or this. 

In the Galway production, he had a Mountain-Man Beard. For St. Ann's, it was just his normal 2-day stubble. (My favourite look of his, by the way. ;)  ) I had assumed it was because of an upcoming project...or maybe he just decided he really hated that damn beard! Either that, or his wife did. ;

It was a 90-minute show, no intermission...mesmerizing from start to finish. It was absolutely amazing, and by far the best theatre experience I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of.

To top it all off...with whipped cream and a big ol' juicy cherry...I got to meet him.

He was lovely and charming and everything you'd expect from a reserved, quiet actor who keeps to himself but appreciates his fans. We had a lovely chat...he'd asked for no photos, so I asked for an autograph instead. I didn't really want it, but I needed some proof that I'd finally met him, right? (He used my sharpie! Everyone makes fun of me for having every colour highlighter, as well as pencils and pens and markers and sharpies in my purse, but by golly, that sharpie came in handy. I just won't ever let anyone else touch it again. Har, har.)

We chatted a bit about Michael Lander, who'd recently read my short. (YES. Another update I've failed to write about--I finally finished the 3rd draft of WILD GEESE. Mr. Lander not only read it, but came back with comments and suggestions. That was incredibly decent of him, and I appreciated it so much. He's in the middle of adapting a novel, so for him to take time out just for me was really flattering. Anyway--since I'm talking about it--it's been decided that I'll be turning WG into a feature, with the help of my friend Mark Fukae! He's the one who gave my script to Mr. Lander, by the way. :) )

It was because of Michael Lander that I'd had the courage to give Cillian Murphy my script. He said he'd like to read it--and I know he did. I didn't expect anything after that, but I knew he'd at least read it before putting it in a massive pile of other scripts, or tossing it. Of course, it wasn't till I got back to Heather's later that night that I remembered the love scene and got super-embarrassed. It's a damn fine love scene, but I can't read it anymore. I skip over it. Yeah, I realize I'm the one who wrote it....that's probably why I find it embarrassing, actually.

My favourite exchange, though, was this:

I said something about loving his work and choices, or something, and then said, "Actually, I want your career. Or the female version of it."

We both laughed--he has a very genuinely hearty laugh--and he said, "Oh? I'd love to know what that looks like!"

To which I replied, "Well...I'll let you know in a few years, shall I?"

"Yes, do!"

I had stood by the stage door--alone for fifteen minutes before a couple joined me a few feet away--for 45 minutes in the freezing wind, under the Brooklyn Bridge. A security guard joined me after a bit, too, and we had a nice conversation. He said I must be a big fan.

Well, yeah. I am. And I don't like letting opportunities, however little or unimportant, pass me by.

Life's too short for that.

After a day in the city,  a night of wonderful theatre, and a chat with my Misterman. Looking mighty pleased, eh?

Oh listen sister:
I love my mister man.
And I can't tell you why...
There ain't no reason
Why I should love dat man.
It mus' be somethin' that the angels done plan.

Well, okay. I don't love him. I barely know the guy. But I love his work, and I cannot wait until we work together. And guess what?

I tend to make things happen.

P.S. To my friends in the Isles and mainland Europe, MISTERMAN will be in London in April. 
Do. Not. Miss. It.
 I promise you won't regret it. 

P.S. 2 To those friends who happen to have kids--leave 'em at home. This is not one for little Tommy and Susie. 

P.S. 3 Take me with you?

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