Much like the recent Jason Bateman movie Bad Words, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee concerns itself with the competitors in the titular spell-off. Unlike its more cinematic counterpart, the stage musical develops it’s characters in a believable fashion, giving the event stakes that matter for everyone involved. Bad Words was not a bad movie, but the screenwriter would have done well to take a few more cues from Spelling Bee.
Theatre is a unique medium; it offers the opportunity to showcase odd stories without being too concerned about box office. Sure every production should be trying to make money, but there is a lot more room for experimentation on the stage than there is on the screen. David Ives is one of the men taking these kinds of chances. His one-act collection All in the Timing is an influential and inspirational work. Ives continues to sharpen his craft in his most recent play, Venus in Fur.
In Bruges is one of the best films of the last decade. And you can trust my opinion because I write movie reviews that upwards of ten people read. Okay, strike that. You can trust my opinion because it’s just a really good fucking movie. I don’t even want to tell you what it’s about, I just want you to watch it – if for some reason you haven’t seen it already (I will give you one warning: it is a little gory at times. But you really shouldn’t let that stop you). Why do I bring all of this up? The man who wrote and directed In Bruges, Martin McDonagh, is also an excellent playwright. And for today’s review I read one of his plays: The Pillowman.