Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A New Brain

William Finn’s 1998 semi-autobiographical musical has been called shapeless and “spliced-together.” It wasn’t till late in rehearsal for a production that I drew a structural connection to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. 

Gordon hates his life and is haunted by visions of his spiteful employer (a Jacob Marley-esque cautionary tale). In the hospital he is visited by his complicated mother (Christmas Past) and his almost-perfect partner (Christmas Present). Gordon rails against his loved ones and throws his lover out of his hospital room (Scrooge’s break-up with Belle). When surgery puts him in a coma he sees them grieving his death (Christmas Future).

At first I thought Gordon’s recovery was the climax of the show. The scenes afterwards felt unnecessary. The Christmas Carol lens makes Gordon’s post-surgery reconciliations and the syrupy “I Feel So Much Spring” important steps towards rebuilding the life he almost lost. 

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