POST: 'Illyria' - a play about actors putting on plays

What it's about.

Illyria is a show about a group of adventurous, ambitious theatre enthusiasts. What starts as high-minded idealism is soon rife with conflict as they come face-to-face with the challenges of making theatre work in New York City.

My experience.

I went this show because I wanted to try something different. The last few shows that I’ve seen have been pretty big, exciting shows, and this one seemed more barebones. The subject also seemed kind of obscure. Like, I’m a big fan of theater, but I am definitely not a theater person. No acting, please. I wasn’t totally sold on a play about actors (and former actors) putting on plays. But then again, I liked La La Land, a movie about actors trying to make movies.

There was real food on stage! People were eating sandwiches, cooking dinners, drinking beers and sodas. Is that normal in theater? I’ve never seen anything like that, and I was really taken aback by it. I thought it was really cool to have that extra layer of realism - hearing the sound of silverware clanking against porcelain, or the idle chatter that fills a room in anticipation of a big meal. It reminded me of my own memories of gatherings of friends & family. I could almost smell the bread at the center of the table. That was a really cool experience.

This was one of those shows where I wasn’t rooting for any particular character. I have a tendency to latch on a certain character but as I watched this performance, I thought they were all just so perfectly ordinary. It was almost like watching a group of friends - you had your funny guy, your planner, the one who brings food, etc. I think I am definitely the funny guy... never really the star of the play, but reminding everyone I exist every once in awhile.

However, I just wanted to stand up and go "none of this really matters!!!" I kept hoping for someone, anyone in the cast of characters to wise up and realize "oh, hey, our problems are totally self-inflicted and we're all being kind of petulant and immature about them!" One of the characters, Stuart, eventually woke up and realized, but the other half-dozen just kept going on and on. I feel like these characters are the reason that there's a starving artist cliché.

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