Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Say Hello To The Glass Family -- I Mean The Shawns

Perhaps only the family of William Shawn captures the idiosyncratic charm of the Glass family from the JD Salinger stories. Whether editing or contributing to the New Yorker, writing or performing plays, composing music or simply existing as a New York intellectual family, the Shawns are the Royal Tannenbaums come to life. (Or more accurately, the Tannenbaums are the Shawns turned into fiction.) Wallace Shawn is performing his moologue "The Fever" and the reviews range from respectable to friendly. (ie, they don't range that much). I saw the show on Saturday and what few people point out is what a terrific actor Wallace has always been. He's a great character actor in the movies a la the Warner Bros. stable of the 30s and 40s. And with his own work, Wallace is magnetic. He commands the stage and uses his distinctive voice beautifully. And I haven't enjoyed a pre-show monologue about cell phones so much since Mike Nichols delivered an hilarious comic bit at Shakespeare in the Park.

His brother Allen has just published a memoir that tackles Allen's many phobias. The NYTimes doesn't just compare it to Joan Didion's "Year Of Magical Thinking" because in this age of hype that isn't enough. They write that it's "a brave, eccentric and utterly compelling book that’s as revelatory and candid as anything ever written by Joan Didion, and as humane and scientifically fascinating as any one of Oliver Sacks’s case studies."

Well. I certainly was entertained by his list of phobias:
“I don’t like heights,” he writes. “I don’t like being on the water. I am upset by walking across parking lots or open parks or fields where there are no buildings. I tend to avoid bridges, unless they are on a small scale. I respond poorly to stretches of vastness but do equally badly when I am closed in, as I am severely claustrophobic. When I go to a theater, I sit on the aisle. I am petrified of tunnels, making most train travel as well as many drives difficult. I don’t take subways. I avoid elevators as much as possible. I experience glassed-in spaces as toxic, and I find it very difficult to adjust to being in buildings in which the windows don’t open.”

1 comment:

tim_g said...

it's tennenbaums.