Fans of TV’s “Brothers and Sisters”—yours truly included—now have a thrilling double shot at catching Matthew Rhys (“Scotty”) or Rachel Griffiths (“Sarah”) live and in the flesh. Rhys trades sweetness for sting in Look Back in Anger, at the Roundabout, while Griffiths rides a tell-all memoir to Broadway in Other Desert Cities. TV celebs don’t usually make good by their stage roles, but this situation is different. Why?
1- Griffiths and Rhys earned theater cred before going to Hollywood;
2- they’re perfect for their parts; and,
3- “Brothers and Sisters” was just that good. Sue me.
Griffiths had this to say about doing theater: “It really is our penance for taking the money in television. I’m a Roman Catholic, and [Rhys] is a Welsh Methodist. You must repent. Got to go kneel in the cathedral of the theater.” (NY Times, 1/19/12)
Repentance, then, involves a lot of fury and despair: Both Other Desert Cities and Look Back in Anger light huge fires under fraught family fracas, then bathe in the ensuing sparks. “Jimmy,” Rhys’ character, is cooped up in a 1950s London flat and endlessly condemns the world on personal and political levels. “Brooke” (Griffiths), a writer, is unsure about exposing the secrets of her Palm Springs family and dances around her right-wing parents like an anxious minesweeper. In both plays, tears are shed, papers are thrown, souls are burned. And yes, it’s all pretty wonderful.
Naturally, both characters are supremely lonely in their contempt of mundane, daily politics. Jimmy has this to say at the end of Look Back: “Was I really wrong to believe there’s a—a kind of—burning virility of mind and sprit that looks for something as powerful as itself? The heaviest, strongest creatures always seem to be the loneliest.”
Jimmy and Brooke do, in fact, find some kind of companionship by end of their respective plays. (Look Back is far less optimistic, it should be noted.)
But if the endings aren’t prepackaged and easy, that’s deliberate.
I mean hey, that’s what we have network TV for.
photo by ABC