On Monday, September 15, the Endangered Species Project presented a reading of Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh that ran five hours with a cast of nineteen actors. This marathon at Seattle's ACT Theater was attended by about 200 people, many of whom did not make it to the 11 p.m. conclusion.
Still, the epic performance was well worth the effort for anyone privileged to show up. Most of the audience seemed to be actors or other theater people, and the comment overheard from one patron seems to sum up much of what I felt. He said, "I've never really read the play, but I've always wanted to. Here I get to have the play read to me."
The performance went well beyond just reading as the actors really acted their parts of this very complicated theatrical production that has never been produced in Seattle. Granted, this is not a show for most of us who are barraged with sound bites and have increasingly shorter attentions spans. Still, there was something to be said for the way the numerous characters were developed over the course of the performance.
So, kudos to the Endangered Species Project for taking on this and other less visible projects on behalf of the Seattle community because sometimes we need more than the usual bright and cheerful musical to help us remember that theater can also lead us to think about things and expand our horizons.
May such edgy endeavors continue to thrive and be recognized for the genuine contribution they make to patrons.