POST: Two Class Acts: 'Ajax' and 'Squash' - sign me up, that's my life

What's it about?

Two one-act plays about students infatuated with their Greek Literature teachers - one revolving around a new play of Sophocles' Ajax and the other over the noble sport of squash. This can really only end one way, actually two ways. 

What'd I experienced?

Rediscovering an author you love is like meeting an old friend again. You haven't forgotten all the nuances and little touches that drew you to them in the first place. You have to relearn them, though, and you do. And sometimes you find yourself falling in love with their ideas and ways all over again. That's been my recent experience with James Joyce. I loved the collection Dubliners in my sophomore year of high school. Now, in my junior year of college, I've been given the task of reading Joyce's The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and I can't help but feel that certain level of emotion and inspiration smashing into my soul as I turn through the book from 231st Street to Franklin Street on the 1 train. 

I find that it is the same feeling with a theater. So, making my way down from Franklin Street to White Street, I'm keenly aware of where I'm going, and aware that this is one of the last times I'll be going there. 

So, my first exposure to The Flea Theater was a chance viewing of The Mysteries that I saw in June 2014. I wasn't in a good place exiting high school; honestly, I'd rather not dredge it up I get unbearable when I do. But The Mysteries turned my life around and I've been steered in a positive direction since I exited the theater at midnight that night. I can't even exactly say what the show did to me, but it was the exact thing I needed at that point. A six hour therapy session for the soul. 

Two Class Acts: Ajax and Squash is a double feature showing of A.R. Gurney's newly premiered shows Ajax and Squash. This is, also, the last show that the Flea Theater will be performing at their current White Street residence. So I'm going to this show knowing that this was what The Flea Theater has decided would be their curtain call here. 

The Flea Theater seems to primarily engage with a heavy dose of the 1970s, as most of the lobby's music is Queen or Bowie when I've been around. Today's song was "We Are The Champions." 

I'm ushered down to the lower theater with the rest of the audience for Ajax. The stage itself isn't much of a stage. There are tables, able to seat two people, surrounding a podium in the center of the room. The tables each have two syllabuses for the play's Greek Drama course. Any audience member can sit at the tables, but beware the teacher will be interacting with the tables and be warned how close to the teacher you sit, you will be asked questions. 

It's fun watching the dramatic wardrobe changes the actors go through within the thirty seconds of darkness they're given to do it.

There's a certain giddiness in my heart to the word play about the Greeks/Trojans = Israel/Palestine, but I can't help but feel awkward.

I feel that I am quite certainly not the target audience for this play.

Even as I begin to drift away from the play, I find myself immediately pulled back into it.

Comedy about Greek Drama, about the rewriting/bullshit process of storytelling, about a horrible basement college environment? Sign me up, that's my life.

Except making out with my Greek Drama teacher, like this student here, cause mine was much more barrel-chested and had a beard. Same ponytail though. 

image source/WWE

image source/WWE

They guide us upstairs for Squash now. Four different stage sets are in one long room. Each stage has a specific kind of light that precariously hangs above it. Now to the show.

Penises are flashed about.

The domestic drama/humor flashes The Honeymooners to mind, though I struggle now to figure out the exact reason why.

Somehow, I honestly find myself lost in the emotional pull of a play about the "completely important" game of professional Squash. Surprisingly, the show asks questions of sexuality between a student and a teacher. I honestly found myself completely engrossed in the happenings of the show. I can't say I had anything tangible in my mind or body to relay here. I cared about what was happening, I laughed at the jokes, but I can't say that I found myself deeply contemplating anything.

I'm not a very sexual being, I just don't swing either way,  and I felt that both shows asked deeply sexual questions, more than any political or personal ones. I was interested, I cared about the plots and the characters.

Okay. 

I just don't know that, for me, it's the bookend for the theater that I think kind of saved my life once-upon-an-afternoon. But, they've chosen their bookend, and I can't go fighting that. They're the artists with artist's reasonings; I'm just a fan. 

So, as I exit the Flea Theater at their White Street location for the last time, and they blast David Bowie's "Changes" in their lobby, I'm more than thankful. I look forward to rediscovering The Flea somewhere new and meet it again as I would an old friend. 

For now, though, I'll let Joyce tide me over on the 1 train ride back home. 

The object of the artist is the creation of the beautiful. What the beautiful is is another question.
— James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Chapter V

Want to see it?

$20 tickets

Two Class Act: Ajax and Squash
Flea Theater
thru Nov. 14