Fringeworthy

Hip Shot: My Princess Bride

Actor Joe Brack, on whom William Goldman's THE PRINCESS BRIDE made a big impression at a tender age.

Venue: Gear Box    

Remaining Performances:

Thursday, July 19, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, July 20, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday,July 21, 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 22, 3:00 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, July 24, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, July 25, 9:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 26, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, July 27, 8:00 p.m. & 12:00 a.m.
Sunday, July 29, 3:00 p.m.

They Say: "One man's take on a classic tale 'of true love and high adventure.' Once a novel (or was it?), then abridged (was it, really?), then a well loved movie. Witness fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes and miracles."

Sophia's Open Letter to The Writer, Director, and Cast of The Princess Bride:

Dear Mr. Goldman, Mr. Reiner, Ms. Wright, et al;

I hope this finds you all well.

Last weekend, the Capital Fringe Festival opened here in Washington, DC.  Once a year DC's theatre lovers gather 'round the Baldacchino Gypsy Tent Bar (a place Inigo Montoya would feel at home) and take in as much experimental theater as our hearts and minds can stand.

This year, Joe Brack, one of our city's finest actors, is performing a one-man comedy called My Princess Bride. Brack wrote the piece himself and Matty Griffiths directed it.  I'm writing because I'd like you to know that watching his performance was a happy reminder of how truly I, and many thousands like me, have loved your Princess Bride since we were kids.

Brack does a really good job of staying true to your classic tale of fencing, fighting, torture, revenge... well, I don't have to tell you all how the line goes. Most of the show, maybe 90 percent, features Brack reenacting scenes from the film and book.  I first watched The Princess Bride at a sleepover party when I was ten. I've seen it countless time since, so if Brack was getting it all wrong, believe me, I'd know.

Now I realize what you may be thinking as you read this: Why do such a thing? Does Brack have a point — like, artistically?  Well, it turns out he does. It comes to this: The ten percent of the show that is about Brack's life, and what your film and book have meant to him at different times throughout. My Princess Bride isn't merely fencing, fighting, pyrotechnics, soaring plushies, and snow sand. Brack draws attention to certain lines and reveals why, for him, they hold personal significance.

For instance, you know when Buttercup and Wesley are racing along the ravine floor towards the Fire Swamp?  Buttercup goes, "We'll never survive." And Wesley goes, "Nonsense, you're only saying that because no one ever has?" Well, Brack has really thought about that line.  He's thought about how it really means that nothing is impossible.  Most importantly, he thought about what an amazing idea that is to put in the mind of awkward young boy on a quest for confidence.

And you'll all recall filming the bit when Inigo says to Fezzik: "Listen Fezzik, do you hear? That is the sound of ultimate suffering. My heart made that sound when Rugen slaughtered my father." You delivered this profound statement, Mandy Patinkin, as a simple statement of fact. Mr. Patinkin, you looked great fencing in those brown leather pants, by the way.  And Cary Elwes, the way you held Buttercup's eyes while you fetched that pitcher down for her, was so...

Where was I? Ultimate suffering. Oh, right. That. Brack has thought about Ultimate Suffering too. Not from the perspective of a young boy, but from that of a grown man — one who has lived to know different kinds of loss.

If Brack has thought noticeably less about any part in The Princess Bride, it may be yours, Robin Wright, the princess bride herself.  I got the sense that you gentlemen of the cast gave Brack some of his first acting lessons. I suspect he's been playing each of your parts just like you did for most of his life, especially yours Wallace Shawn. I don't think he ever played yours, Ms. Wright, until he started rehearsal for this show.

He noticed you, Robin, don't get me wrong. He just never thought to emulate you, perhaps for good reason. The Buttercup you were asked to play wasn't much help in the Fire Swamp, when it comes down to it.  (She could have tried harder to whack that rodent!) But in 1987, when all the other movie heroines had massive bangs, you wore your hair long and off your face.  When everyone else wore cascading pearls and puffed sleeves, you arrived at the wedding in minimalist blue lace. While for the child Brack once was, the living room armchair was a substitute for the Cliffs of Insanity, for me, they were the open arms (into which I tried to float, just like you) of the late, great Andre "The Giant" Rousimoff.

Yet, that's the real fun of watching My Princess Bride: Your movie belongs to each of us individually and all of us collectively at the same time.  Brack's Princess Bride is not exactly my Princess Bride, but The Princess Bride that so many of us share is the one that's important.  The audience on opening night shared enough love for your story to have been able to recite the famous lines along with Brack when he prompted us.  And when time came for him to take a bow, we gave him a standing ovation.

I know none of you live in Washington, DC, but if you find yourselves here between now and the 29th, you might want to catch this show.

In any case, thanks for making a movie that inspired so much us as children that we re-watch it as adults, when we need to refuel our imaginations.

Much Love Always,

Sophia

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