November 24th, 2008

Fred Allen

there's a feller in there that'll pay ya ten dollars if you sing into his can

Back in 2005 the Coen Brothers and Charlie Kaufman presented a double bill of live original audio plays under the title Theater of the New Ear. They brought along Meryl Streep, John Slattery, Steve Buscemi, Peter Dinklage, and a buncha other folks you may remember from their films or other indie classics. The Coens' offering was a meta-play with one half of the cast "watching" the other half on a TV show; Kaufman's was a bit more, well, in tune with his love for meta-meta-meta-meta goof-offery. I mean, consider his scene breakdown:
Scene One         Elevator
Scene Two         Elevator, ten minutes later
Scene Three       Joe's Living Room
Scene Four        The "Kitchen," later that day
Scene Five        Offices of Rolling Stone magazine, 1969
Scene Six         Engine room of an Argentinian freighter, 1943
Scene Seven       The Void, Thursday, 6:53 EST
Scene Eight       Elevator, exactly thirty years later
Scene Nine        Joe's living room, midnight of the same day
Scene Ten         The Void, early morning
Scene Eleven      The eye of a hurricane, Easter Island, now
Scene Twelve      Elevator, one thousand years later
Scene Thirteen    A field of marigolds
Yeah, it's definitely Kaufman-Brand "I'm Doing This Crazy Kinda Crap Cause I Can" writing and, well, it may work for you. If you enjoyed the crazy way Adaptation ended you might enjoy the way this one ends, Ouroboros-style (and stay away from the spoilers in the show description before you head in.)

The Coens' play can be downloaded at the site above, or you can listen to both shows (via horrendously clunky streaming interface) at another site if you wish. While they don't request willing suspension of disbelief so much as outright demand disbelief be thrown out the window, they're still interesting listens when you have a chance and some of the live Foley is pretty groovy, too.