I had an evangelical experience last Friday at the Rep. I saw August Wilson's "Fences".
At the end I turned to my friend Brad and I said, "It was like seeing a production in London or New York.", truly spectacular, breathtaking theatre. Here in LA, the theatre suffers from either the 99-cent production quagmire, where there is no money, too much/little rehearsal and often uneven or slipshod productions, or the throw massive money and TV stars school of production, which is often bland and unsatisfying. When you can pay actors what they are worth (and I mean actors, not celebrities) give them a beautiful set and have the good luck and foresight to give them the gift of a truly great script. Alchemy. Gold. A thrilling night of theatre.
But what really got to me about "Fences", and I know I am coming late to the game here, was the WORDS. My god, those words, that come out of the actors mouths, are gifts. Shakespearean topics, the best kind of universality. I am not black, I did not grow up with the experiences these characters did, but it doesn't matter. The WORDS are so compelling, the story so well woven, you can't imagine what comes next. I'm not an old King either, but I bet Troy could give Lear a run for his money.
Going to the theatre should always be thrilling, exciting, compelling. This is why jukebox musicals and the like don't hold any appeal to me. They are concerts, a different beast, not particularly universal and like cotton candy, forgettable the second you've consumed them.