Marina: “Hot Buffet Reviews, Let Me Show You Them.”

29 10 2008

Here in Boston we just finished our fall show, Hot Buffet (a dystopian musical satire). And now that the dust has settled, the set has … dustled (?!), and the dildo harness (courtesy of Good Vibrations, thanks, GV!) has been folded and put away in the Big Moves costume box, I think I have about a week to contemplate the experience before the next season comes riding in hard and fast and needing to be fed.

Well, “contemplate” may be ambitious, and by “a week” I mean maybe another 12 hours.

But there have been a couple of interesting incidents during this, the only tragedy/drama that Big Moves has produced anywhere in our eight years of existence so far.

1) We got a COMPLAINT LETTER, from someone who was offended by the show! She and her companion left at intermission because her companion was so traumatized by something portrayed in the first act that she was in tears. I’m not going to say what, because there’s a possibility that Hot Buffet will either be restaged by Big Moves Boston somewhere else or by another Big Moves chapter, but someone was actually moved so far by the content that she couldn’t handle watching any more of it.

Now, our intent was not to make people leave at intermission. There’s the whole tragic ending that we want people to see. THEN they can leave, shaken and disturbed. And I did send a compassionate note to the letter-writer–I mean, we wouldn’t have put a warning in the marketing about the scene, because that would have blown a significant plot point, but it’s always worth taking such comments under discussion when we plan.

But actually, I take it as a round-about, accidental compliment. Our depiction of the issue was sufficiently real that it triggered someone. Someone was offended, not by the fatties, but by a drama unfolding graphically, inexorably on stage. I feel like a grown-up director suddenly. Kinda… wow.

2) We got a REVIEW, from a mainstream print newspaper. We deliberately set up this run over two weekends, in the hope that critics might be able to attend, and be interested enough to write a review. And one guy did.

Take a look. It’s a pretty good review. I mean, we got a photo on the front page, with a jump to a full review and another photo. And he did encourage people to come to the show. (I’ll ignore the “strap on your feedbag” remark, because those poor journalists just can’t seem to avoid getting cute.)

But the big draw, in his opinion, was the big fat fatties doing pervy things all up in his face. Nothing but fatties, all fatties, all up in his face.

The producer side of me (about 85 percent) is all “yay! all publicity is good publicity! Sex sells! Fatties are sexy! Look at how skeezy we got! Exactly the ambience I was going for!” But the remaining 15 percent (the artistic side, see item 1, above) is sitting quietly in the corner with a stiff drink in her hand, muttering “There is too a plot. There are several plots. There are whole fucking story arcs. There are confrontations and secrets and melt-down moments that made people really uncomfortable. There’s a butoh-inspired finale. Our dancing fatties aren’t so fat that they block the fucking stage and everything that’s happening on it. Lots of audience members gave praise, some walked away quietly with very disturbed looks on their faces, we even got a fuckin’ complaint letter. Were you so distracted by the ‘nearly naked, harness-wearing twink’ and the heaving landscape of voluptuous, food-smeared fatties that you couldn’t see the tragedy?”

So, you know, slightly mixed feelings on my part. BUT, it was a review, a good one that brought in tons of phone calls on Friday and Saturday morning about the show.   If people came and got something that they didn’t expect, that’s not our fault. And it’s probably a good thing.

Fortunately for our fans and cast alike, the next big show, Fat Camp, is much lighter in tone. More details about that soon. In the meantime, yay for complaint letters and being misunderstood by the media. It’s a grand artistic tradition that means we’ve finally arrived!

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