Thoughts & Feedback: PARLOUR SONG


We hope your experience at Quantum’s Parlour Song was a good one. Our staff and board are interested to hear what you think, and encourage you to talk with others as well, so we have initiated an online conversation you can join with fellow attendees. What did you like/dislike about the production? Was there something in particular that resonated with you? Something particularly confusing? Any comments or suggestions are greatly encouraged.

Leave your comment in the comment box below. Be sure to click the box that will notify you of responses to your comment.  Some will come from Karla, and some (we hope) will come from other patrons.  You’re a valued member of the Q-mmunity.  We’re all hoping for greater understanding through the art that we experience.

We greatly appreciate your thoughts and look forward to continuing the conversation of Parlour Song… and of Quantum Theatre experiences to come, we hope there will be many more.


22 comments on “Thoughts & Feedback: PARLOUR SONG

  1. Dave and Joyce Bartholomae says:

    It was a wonderful production. The acting was outstanding, the play was great, the venue was perfect. And, oh, those chairs. We loved it. And we thought the PG preview did you a disservice by suggesting that the play was incomprehensible. It wasn’t at all. It was a striking suburban melodrama. Easily recognizable.

  2. Drew Barnes says:

    Enjoyed it, used what would have been a very boring space and made it fit the work. Thought her character needed something more than ennui, loved the imagery of the birdbath, so personal and substantial being taken from him. Always thought provoking!

  3. Mel and Claire says:

    This was only our 2nd time seeing a Quantum production. We found the play very engrossing. The acting was superb, and the space was well used, down to the trees in the windows. Congratulations to our friend Sarah Silk; wonderful to see you on stage in Pittsburgh.

  4. Karla Boos says:

    Since you were nice enough to compliment the trees in the windows, Mel and Claire, I’ll add my two cents- my very favorite thing about the play, and something I recognize in all Jez Butterworth’s plays, is a sense that nature is there, rising, it will assert itself no matter how we think we’re dominating it, controlling it. This might be natural forces inside the characters, despite their well-controlled, homogenized surfaces… or it might be NATURE – like the giant rat Ned talks about, or the forest Joy talks about in her ultimate monologue, which seems such a primaeval force.

    So I loved that out of the windows on one side of our site we see and feel the Waterfront, we never forget about it, you hear the cars going by, you see reflections of their headlights. But out the other side is the dark Mon, and the rustling trees, beautifully lit by Scott Nelson. The production feels to me like an island with those forces at odds around it, as well as inside the characters. .

  5. Liane Ellison Norman says:

    We LOVED the new chairs: thank you. We thought the play was very well done, liked the setting, including the real world outside. But thought the play itself was kind of old hat: it seemed to us we’ve read and seen this story over and over in various iterations, the play itself whining about how contemporary life is dull, unrewarding and spirit-killing, how blowing up the old to erect the new and identical is the source of malaise.

    • Jean Thomas says:

      I think I have to second Liane’s comments on the play itself–and of course I like the chairs too. It wasn’t my favorite Quantum production (I am not sure which one is) but I will continue to be a faithful subscriber and always look forward to what and where Quantum is doing next

  6. Ken Joseph says:

    A great experience! The play is very good and your production did it justice. I liked how the play tied a rather banal situation – the personal isolation and alienation associated with tract home suburbanites – to the deeper theme of nature of and destruction. It was very well done and the experience will stay with me for a long time. I should also say that the “talk back” after the show was especially good and added to my appreciation of the play.

  7. The space was luxurious, complete with bathrooms and your staff, as always, courteous and fun to deal with.

    My only complaints are with the playwright. While the acting was super, we the audience only get to know the husband (I’ve forgotten the names.) We feel for him and pity him, but the wife is a shell. What are her motives for seducing Dale the neighbor? (A name surfaces!). Why does she come back at the end when she seemed hell-bent on going? Why does she lose her love for spouse? (Dale less important, he is callous, I suppose and moves IN on her or moves back OUT to neutral as safety suits. But he never mentions children until the end, also a weakness in script writing. Let’s just have plays by Shakespeare, Voltaire or Carla Booz from now on…ha ha. Well, always a chance when one runs a Quantum Theatre, but did anyone else agree with me? If suburbs are about alienation (from each other? one’s self?) why wasn’t that more clear?

    • Karla Boos says:

      Thanks Christine! I’m glad you responded because it enables us to get a little more conversation going. Joy… I feel that we should care about Joy for the play to truly work. We should wonder about her, and try to understand. I do – wonder, I try to understand… but the play lives in my mind intact from my first read of it, I know all you have is the production we’re showing you – I think I decided to do it because I care about Joy. That speech she gives about the forest, running like a wild thing, the forest breaking through the walls of her boxed-in life, her unfulfilled desires… that makes me care about her. And then I know that the affair, the cruelty to her husband, are her cries for help. You compliment the acting of our production. Maybe the gorgeous actress playing Joy has the obstacle of her youth, as well as beauty, in making us understand her pain? It would have been different with a person closer to midlife, I guess. But young or not, beautiful or not, I believe Joy had a surge… and it ebbed, or she squelched it, and that’s life. We do that – out of fear. We don’t always make a change, even if we should. Our Ned’s not cast in a usual way either and I think it’s a strength, highlights the complexity… our Ned is handsome and in perfect shape (we’ve seen pictures of other productions’ bald, flabby, not-so-handsome guys.) I also love that Dale in our production truly cares about Ned. All these things make the play more complex, but possibly more frustrating as you look for what it’s trying to say? I hope others will get in here – thanks!

  8. Jeannemarie says:

    I loved the trees in the background and marvelous set, the acting, the wonderful multimedia, and the comfortable new chairs. I was not expecting so many laughs, but I did not really like the play. I did not feel that the neighbor truly cares about the husband, at least I hope truly caring about someone and sleeping with his wife would not go together. Yuck. I’m glad you cast a “hot” husband so we didn’t fall into blaming the wife’s discontent on him. I did think the wife was depressed and trying to feel happy again, but I cannot say I was caring for her or feeling like her suburban life was the problem.

    I kept thinking of Electric Baby’s angry wife. The husbands in each play were not at fault but powerless against anger/depression. These are the only two QT plays I do not want to see again.

    I usually attend a QT play on Talk Back night but could not this time, and I really missed that.

  9. Lisa Schwartz says:

    I do have a few ideas….

    1) Small discount for repeaters. I’d be interested in seeing your performances twice (and have done that, once, with Borkman, which I attended twice in a week).

    2) Maybe the discount could be linked to bringing in a new theatre-goer.

    3) Have an audience talk-back, early on, and an actor talk-back near the end of the run. I attended the most recent performance with an After-Talk With Actors, and was interested to find that you were more interested in audience response, than in having the actors talk to us. I’d love to go to a show early on, and listen to and take part in audience response, and then see a show in the last week, to see the evolution of the actors’ approaches, and get in their heads a little bit about how they worked out their characters over time, what they intended. Also the director’s thoughts, and yours.

    4) I’m interested in strictures you place on yourselves. (By way of explanation, I’m a journalist who will not put quotation marks around a source’s words, if the words are not exactly as spoken. Some reporters, on the other hand, clean up quotes, with the view that spoken language is messy and the more important thing is to convey the essential meaning.) In Parlour Song, it was a bit jarring to hear Dale say to Ned, your face is red. It took me out of the now of the play, got me thinking, huh, yeah, this part was written for a white man, Manchester, yeah, okay. So you were true to the playwright, the language, at perhaps the expense of the flow. Do you know what I mean? I think that’s fascinating. Kind of makes me question my own dedication to absolute word-for-word in my own work…. Are you committed to exact language, and how did that come about, and would you ever consider altering a phrase?

    Just some musings. Thanks for doing what you do.
    Lisa Schwartz

    • Karla Boos says:

      Thanks… We really appreciate your thoughts and support.

      We’d be happy to offer great deal to someone who wants to come again, and something special to Q friends who bring a newcomer- in fact we’re doing some of that and want to do more. Stevie, will you post what’s up, and any further deals we can offer?

      The talkbacks- I do feel strongly that the best thing that can happen in a talkback, is that the audience members talk about pretty much anything, what they felt about the play, the production… Processing through talk, sharing, bouncing off others, is actually part of having the experience of the play. Often you don’t know for sure what you think until it comes out of your mouth, or someone else’s. Though it seems more usual to ask the actors questions and have them answer, in my experience, the audience just shuts up and listens… May end up feeling actually further from it. Each person’s own thoughts and responses are perfectly valid.

      You’re so great to say you’d like both, Lisa! Maybe we should do 2, just as you say-

      On the perfect adherence to the playwright’s words: at risk of objection, I’ll tell the truth, no, I don’t feel slavishly obedient to the text. I’ve had too many experiences of all the pieces that we bring to a production – some unanticipated by the writer – prompting small changes that i’d defend as for the better in our case. But I also respect the playwright and know how thoughtfully they go about their work… No hard and fast answer would be right for me. The thing you cite from Parlour Song didn’t rise to the level of necessitating change for me (though hear you that it took you out), I worried more about the credibility of that actor saying ‘I want to lose the tits’ when he has perfectly manly, athlete-worthy pects! Came to realize it added… that in our production, Ned was delusional, as one does get. I thought that worked.

      Thanks again!

      • Stevie Herendeen says:

        We’d love to have patrons come back a second time, and it’s a fabulous idea to link it to introducing a newcomer to Quantum. If anyone would like to see the show a second time, we’d be happy to offer a complimentary ticket, as long as one is purchased for someone brand new to Quantum (a Buy One, Get One Free for a newbie). Just give us a call to book: 412-362-1713.

        Additionally, for those who haven’t see it yet… we only have 5 more performances left. Perhaps a complimentary glass of wine or beer will sway you? We will be offering a free beverage to this week’s attendees before you take your seat.

        Thank you, Lisa, for your thoughts! We hope to see you again this week 🙂

      • Lisa Schwartz says:

        Whoa, don’t you think that’s a little too generous? A free ticket? Although now that I think of it, as a fundraising strategy, that’s brilliant. People will be more inclined to give extra when you ask.

      • Lisa Schwartz says:

        Yes to the pects. Don’t know which line came first. Both lines took me out. But not overly so. That was a terrific piece of physical acting, “Ned” appearing spent by so little exertion and collapsing in tearful frustration.

  10. Zach Simons says:

    I thought the whole thing was so great – the setting was strangely perfect on so many levels, and it really felt like we were there with them in this house.

    I was also blown away by the ambiguity with which Cameron played Ned. Everyone played his and her own character so well, and it really left me not knowing if Ned ever knew what Joy was up to. So many times he seemed to be on the edge of figuring it out, or he would seemingly tip his hand and show us that he knew – we would see her reaction and that she was caught, or that Dale suddenly realized that Ned was onto him – and then Ned would snap back into everything being fine, leaving me wondering if he knew or not! So well done, and that question will stick with me to be sure.

  11. Lisa Schwartz says:

    I see that my “pects” response is in the wrong place. Sorry!

  12. Jeff Pepper says:

    Fantastic production. I was wondering how a burger joint in a shopping mall could be transformed into a stage for a play. But leave it to Quantum Theater to pull it off! Every part of the production was spot on. Great job, Quantum!

    • Karla Boos says:

      Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who commented on this blog, and also to those who stuck around for talkbacks after performances. The two talks with David Orbison leading the discussion from a psychoanalytic standpoint on the characters were especially great (we’ll do more of these, called ‘Quantum on the Couch’, hope they’ll continue to interest more people).

      Your comments of every kind are really appreciated. Talking really seems to open the play up. Theatre is a communal experience after all, and everyone’s reactions contribute to my own longterm feelings – about Parlour Song, and making theatre in general.

  13. Audrey H says:

    My husband thought that this play was familiar and that he had already seen it. Had it been staged before in Pittsburgh, or perhaps we saw it elsewhere? Always fascinated with Quantum’s play selections and to which sites in the ‘Burgh I will be exploring. Love the talkbacks, too.

    • Karla Boos says:

      A reading of the play was done by PICT, quite a few years ago, could that be it? It premiered in New York (funny for a British play) at the Atlantic Theatre Company, so I guess that’s a possibility?

      Thanks for coming and your kind thoughts!

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