Wednesday, November 11, 2020

"Toni Stone" - Live Reading Through Play Per View

Content note: historically accurate terms for Black people used both colloquially and as insults, historically accurate use of a word for mentally challenged folks, sexual harassment, crude language, your momma jokes.  

I had tickets to see "Toni Stone" in April.  Obviously, that didn't happen. I dropped the ball on getting my hands on the limited release recording of the Roundabout Theater performance, so when Play Per View announced the reading, I jumped on it.  
In some ways, this play where Toni spends a lot of time directly addressing the audience, interspersed with conversations at the bar, and the dugout, is suited to a video conference style reading.  It is especially amusing to watch someone show back up with a new name and a new hat, but of course, in live theater, it is often obvious that that is the same person just as a new character now.  
Toni speaks in a particular dialect, and that helps to ground the character quickly.  She is literal, enamored with baseball facts, and sure of her strengths and weaknesses.  
I love a giant group conversation, and often think it is the fastest way to get a sense of the characters, so this play worked well for me.  The characters often butt into conversations that they were clearly not present for, creating a collegial feel of sitting in listening to a recounting of a story that they all know parts of.  
There were a couple weird things, typical for a video chat these days - email alert sounds (I assume from the stage manager), a time or two a name didn't change with a character shift.  These were small things and honestly, I've seen live plays with issues too.  
This playwright also wrote "Smart People" which I enjoyed, so she is clearly someone I need to keep an eye on.