Why A Funny Thing… Is the Cancer Play You Have to See


It has a crazy-long title, however Halley Feiffer’s off-Broadway play is a dazzling, amusing, and sharp evaluation of terminal disease, love, and death.”>

Just when you believed you had actually seen every variation of the cancer drama on phase and screen– the adventurous, wise-cracking victim, the hardass however caring nurses, the gallows humor, the discomfort, the unfairness, the surreal humor amidst the human catastrophe, for each tissue for tears, a belly laugh or barbed thorn– comes the distinctly titled A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Gynecologic Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City , currently at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in Greenwich Village.

The playwright and starlet Halley Feiffer'’s smart play for MCC Theater , simply as skillfully directed by Trip Cullman, knocks the audience off its feet as quickly as it starts, and continues to do so for its next whip-smart, intermission-less 85 minutes.

As we take our seats, we see 2 clients, Marcie (Lisa Emery) and Geena (Jacqueline Sydney) oversleeping a healthcare facility space, their beds separated by a drape. They can not see each other. As the play unfurls, the stars utilize, ingeniously, the plain linear sweep of Lauren Helpern'’s set.

Marcie'’s child Karla (Beth Behrs, from CBS'’s Two Broke Girls), a comic, sits next to her sleeping mommy, trying a succession of ever-more stunning rape jokes .

Marcie can not and does not address, and in the silence Karla'’s violent and smutty musings end up being a growing number of severe, much to the preliminary shock and pain of Don (Erik Lochtefeld), Geena'’s boy who has actually gotten in the space– and is listening, frightened, to Karla'’s revolting thinking-aloud.

We see him– middle-aged, relatively standard as compared to her beanie-wearing, self-obsessed millennial– twist face and body in quiet outrage.

Don ultimately inserts, asking her to stop speaking so foully– and Karla, so brattish, positive and snarky in her joke-forming, is all of a sudden likewise frightened, at being overheard.

We see both Don and Karla creased in mortification– it is funny. After water is tossed and trousers mistakenly dropped, an anxious bond starts to form in between twentysomething lady and middle-aged male.

In this, her 3rd play, Feiffer'’s writing is sharp, incredibly amusing, and incredibly piercing which is as you may hope from the child of the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and author Jules Feiffer.

Don, it ends up, has actually been looking after Geena dedicatedly for several years. Karla keeps in mind that he looks a physical wreck himself– he does not discover the shapeless, cruddy track-pants that have actually obviously secured themselves to his body. Don is bruised gentleness if Karla is all sharp edges.

Their discussion, vexed as it starts, handles an intimacy, possibly accelerated by the shared experience of having actually a friended with cancer. In various methods, they are both self-negating and self-destructive. Both would gain from some love and care.

Karla is shocked to discover Don has cash, Don learns that for all her smut-talk, Karla has remarkable vulnerability. Don read to sleep, while Karla states the household enjoyed Law and Order to usher them to the land of nod.

Behrs and Lochtefeld have an excellent, nervy chemistry– she skittish, loud, an avalanche of eye-rolls and paradox; he is quieter, gentler, however likewise filled with rage at his separated, and entirely senseless, boy. Don and Karla make each other think, and assist one another.

They sexually together unavoidably, at exactly what unfolds as a defining moment, and in a scene made even more agonizing due to the fact that throughout it Karla cannot shut the hell up about her previous sexual experiences and betrayals. This minute is remarkably staged and paced. You will recoil and see.

Through all this Marcie appears asleep, however with periodic motions; when she (and Geena, later on) speaks, it comes a funny surprise. Geena does not speak much in fact, Marcie does– and her words are poison-tipped spears intended directly at her child. Emery is outstanding: flirty with Don, castigating with her child, and– to stun all of us from the concept that cancer clients are saintly victims– as foul-mouthed as her child, and obviously a great deal meaner.

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It is interesting to view the arrogant Karla huddle into a scared ball as her mom asserts her supremacy and control.

The healthcare facility, as health centers do, focuses the dysfunction in between friended– and it takes decision and bravery to challenge that prior to it is far too late for anything to be reclaimed, or raised, talked about, and handled.

Everything Karla states is dismissed hushed, or discussed by Marcie. On the other hand, the sphinx-like Geena– lying there, eyes closed, serenely facing us– explains is how pleased she is of Don, and just how much she likes him.

It is a meagre, rather thankless part, and Sydney should have an award for basic, mute endurance, too her undoubtedly show-stealing interjections.

Feiffer makes us see there is a need to her vitriol too, and eventually with Don, Marcie reaches a catharsis, as does Don himself. Will, can, Karla accept him as a possible mate? Death ultimately makes its existence felt on the ward (it will not be exposed here how).

In the play'’s fairly brief timespan its characters analyze intimacy, love, life, and death. No laugh is simple, no tear generated manipulatively– even when an episode of Law and Order makes a late look to highlight the depth of an earlier speech.

There is, Feiffer reveals us, life in death, and death in life– and eventually the have to if not forgive, then a minimum of discover a peace with those closest to us. This might well show to be the very first cancer ward you will not wish to leave.

Read more: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/06/10/why-a-funny-thing-is-the-cancer-play-you-have-to-see.html