The Vertical Hour
I saw the Vertical Hour a few days ago and had to let it sit with me before I could write about the play.
Many plays are thought provoking and they sit with you for a very long time. Other plays are just fun silly stories that make you laugh. Some plays are just dumb musicals. Some plays are disturbing. There are obviously many categories. So, what category does the Vertical Hour fall into?
Based on David Hare’s last play, Stuff Happens, he is obviously politically minded. He is not a fan of the current administration and certainly not a fan of the war in Iraq. I thought Stuff Happens was a brilliant play which captured the inside workings of the Bush Administration. Unfortunately, the Vertical Hour, although political in nature, is a pretentious disconnected play that is attempting to say something through the platform of the characters but is so confusing in its content that it comes across as just bad.
There are 3 main characters. One being the beautiful Julianne Moore who is so stiff and bland in portraying her character you have to wonder is it the role or her ability to act. Bill Nighy, the ultimate Englishman is such a great actor but he appeared to me to have the air of someone just counting down how many times do I need to perform this particular play. I had the feeling that when he exits at the end of the performance, he goes into his dressing room and slashes another performance off the calendar and sighs with relief. Andrew Scott, is actually pretty good but there is so little chemistry with Julianne Moore that it is painful to watch them embrace.
The basic premise is this. Julianne Moore plays a Yale professor who used to be a war correspondent and now is an expert in terrorism, international war, etc. She has been in the front line of Iraq, Bosnia, Croatia, etc. She is disturbed by the people in the war torn countries that are being brutalized by their dictators daily. She talks incessantly about herself and her knowledge. She is beyond pretentious and so full of herself. Her boyfriend, is a Brit who has come to the US and owns and runs 3 chiropractor clinics. He is a self made man. His father, who is still living in England, is a renown doctor. His parents are divorced, they have had a nasty marriage which he found himself in the middle of. His father was a dirty dog and although he was always the peace keeper, his loyalties are with his mother.
The boyfriend, played by Andrew Scott, brings his girlfriend of one year, Julianne Moore to meet his father, Bill Nighy. The conversations are mostly about politics and the relationship that was between the father and mother. During the night, while the boyfriend is sleeping, Julianne Moore gets up and finds the father up and they have many "deep" conversations about the meaning of life. Their views are different, after all he is a Brit and she is an American – right? The boyfriend is furious the next morning. They leave. She goes back to Yale. He goes back to his life. The father remains in England. Julianne Moore has an epiphany that she shares with one of her students in the last act of the play. I won’t ruin it for you if you plan on seeing the play.
So, what was the point? Bush is bad. People are suffering all over the world and we should be suffer too. Run away from your problems and when you realize you do then you can have an epiphany too? Let’s write a play about what intellects debate about in their private lives over glasses of wine when they are from different worlds and countries? Hmm. Not sure. Regardless, a total waste of 2 1/2 hours of my time.
Oh well, that’s Broadway.