There’s an old joke about the doting mother watching her son march in a parade, who notes “Oh look, everyone is out of step but my Fred.” Maybe I need to change my name to Fred.
Last night we saw Ghost Light at Berkeley Rep. It’s the story of Jonathan Moscone, son of Mayor George Moscone who was killed by Dan White. Written by Tony Taccone and directed by Moscone, it’s as real and personal as a play can be. The acting is tremendous, the staging and set design are absolutely first rate. Every loves it.
Except me. Not for the first time, I’m out of step with the universe. I willingly concede the excellent parts of this play; I was laughing as hard as anyone at the wittiness, as emotionally involved in the serious parts. Christopher Moore is a tremendous actor who learned an astonishing amount of dialogue. Still, I found myself not liking the post-modern anti-structuralism, the theatrical pyrotechnics, the “look at me, I’m really cool” way in which the play was put together. Maybe I’m an old fogey. Okay, they give me the senior discount at the grocery store, I am an old fogey. I still like to know when a dream sequence is happening, not feel like a fool when I work it out 12 minutes later. I think the importance of a speech should be shown by the words, not by their over-amplification blasting out from the walls.
Is it possible to be too close to a subject to write about it well? Of course the 10 year old Jonathan idolized his father, but does that make for good history? Some of what we saw last night just seemed like so much self-actualization claptrap, some of it was egocentric poor-me-ism, some of it was a really interesting take on how George Moscone was a strong supporter of gay rights before it was cool or common and how that has been lost in the Harvey Milk hagiography.
All this leaves me in the middle. I didn’t love the show, I didn’t hate it. On balance, I suppose I’d recommend it, but it’s closing today and you can’t get there anyway. That’s either good or bad, I just don’t know.