Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Water By the Spoonful (5)

"I just remember the instant I saw him, there was just something changed in his eye," Hudes says. "You know, he was still absolutely the same young clown of a cousin I had always known and had grown up with, loving, but there was something different. And I felt that I might never understand it. And that's the simple spark that it came from," (NPR Morning Edition). 
The play starts in a chat room. Haikumom and her devotees make up a chatroom for recovering crack addicts, and are checking in with each other. Orangutan, a young Japanese-American woman who decided to run from her addiction back to Japan to meet her birth parents. Chutes&Ladders, an IRS worker in his 50s. Fountainhead, new to the site.

We also follow Eliot, a 20-something Iraq vet & Yasmin, the family rock -cousins dealing with their aunt's death and funeral arrangement.

Far be it from me to give less than five stars to a Pulitzer Prize for Drama Winner, but this one earned it. It was lovely, yes, but it also spoke to me, which it should. And I understood it. Perhaps because I know someone who's struggled with addiction, and I think it speaks truths that you're afraid to ask that person. Hudes also finds a way to be so forgiving and loving to her characters, while allowing her characters to be unforgiving to each other. It's a truly beautiful piece and I can only assume it's a total bitch to stage.

Boston's Lyric Stage Company

I mean, the characters are chatting online...but they're real and present and really connecting to each other, they know each other in that online way, where you can know everything about a person, things they won't admit out loud but feel free to type. Yet you wouldn't recognize them on the street. How do you stage that?

It has just enough heartbreak in it to make you feel human, but not so much that you want to go numb yourself afterwards. And that is what makes this play really beautiful.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Hangman's Daughter (4)

Jakob Kuisl is the Hangman of Schongau, a small village in Germany.  When the local midwife is accused of witchcraft after an orphan is found murdered with a mysterious mark on his shoulder, Kuisl teams up with the local doctor's son to find out who is really out to kill a pack of orphans.

I mean...I expected the book to center a little more around The Hangman's Daughter for some reason...but once I got used to the fact that Magdelena (Kuisl's Daughter) wasn't going to be the main narrator, I got pretty into it. It has everything you need in a book: possible witchcraft, serial killer, the killer possibly being an actual demon, young star-crossed lovers, buried treasure...

While it can be a little slow at places, especially the beginning, once things get going at the end you can't put it down.

Probably the most fun thing about this book is that Oliver Potzsch, the other, is actually a decedent of the Kuisls, who are apparently a very famous clan of executioners in Germany. I don't know how historically accurate this story actually is, but its pretty cute that he basically wrote fanfiction about his ancestors. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

More Books for Kids!

Super cute little book. Bear cub wanders off chasing a bee and papa bear has to go find him. They run through an opera house. Excellent illustrations, kind of a Where's Waldo with bears.

So I actually never read the full title until I had it at my house, and I thought it was called "Unicorn Think's He's Pretty" and I thought it sounded mean and vapid and about beauty. It's not. It's an adorable little book about a goat who's jealous of a magical unicorn that moves into the neighborhood, only to find out that the unicorn is also jealous of him SPOILER ALERT they end up being friends.
Kind of like Enemy Pie, but for tinier children. Like 4-6 year-olds. Maybe? I don't have kids I don't know what's appropriate anymore!!!

Spoilers abound. Because this book is 12 pages long.
This book is wonderfully illustrated, and shows the relationship of a friendless schoolboy and a bluebird. No words, only pictures.
I'm kind of traumatized by the ending.
I would only make a child read this as punishment if he was an awful kid like Peter from Ender's Game and I wanted him to stop sacrificing animals in his backyard.