After spending yesterday in the great outdoors searching for the brilliant colors of autumn, which I never did find, I thought I would do something a little more up my alley...staying indoors to enjoy a play. I attended my first performance of an Off the Rails Theatre Production, "The Pillowman." It was the first time I've been in the Community High School Theatre and let me just say those seats are the most comfortable I've found in the Roanoke Valley -- better than Showtimers, better than the Salem Civic Center and way better than the Berglund Center.
I almost didn't make showtime because as I was about to cross the railroad tracks the gate came down and I waited at least five minutes for a train to pass. I'm glad I did get there in time. The theatre was not as packed as it should have been, and I hope that's only because of Sunday football, or some other outdoor activity being held, and not because of the play's subject matter.
I mainly went because a Facebook friend, Chris Shepard, sent me an invitation, and I have seen him in other productions and was impressed with his acting ability. Once I read another local blogger's review of it where he stated he didn't like it, and the reasons why, I knew I had to go see it. As with most things in Roanoke, what's popular and well-liked usually do not translate into my "tastes." There are those who love a play like "Nunsense" which I loathed, (too much over-acting) and then there's those who don't mind something dark and disturbing like "The Pillowman" which kept me riveted.
Although I guess I could understand why disclaimers such as the use of four-letter words have to be announced for those who are easily offended, I could have done without the forewarning that a gun would be used on the stage. Really? Have we come to that point? I'm not "spoiling" anything for potential attendees as there are notices announcing that in the program and on the walls leading to the theatre.
I'm not exactly certain as to the time period or location where this play takes place. Maybe I missed that, or maybe the playwright could have been a little more clearer, but it doesn't really matter. The stage is sparse, the four actors' abilities are not. I didn't think the three act play was too long, even with the two intermissions. Those comfy seats and wide leg room really help too.
In a nutshell, the play is about a writer and his mentally challenged brother being questioned by two detectives for the murder of three children. And that's all I'm going to say about it. Yes, it's dark, it's disturbing, it's not pretty, but neither is life sometimes. You're not going to walk out of the theatre feeling upbeat and lifted, but so what? I, for one, can still like a play, a book, a movie, etc. even if the subject matter and characters are not "likable." Heck, sometimes those are the most interesting people. I'd much rather watch and feel something that makes me think instead of watching women dressed as nuns running crazily around a stage. But hey, that's just me.
You can still catch The Pillowman next weekend, October 22-24. Click here for their Facebook page.