jesse eisenberg has been on my radar since the social network led me to delve into his backlog, but i didn’t really know much about him until i went to his talk at the 92y with thane rosenbaum. i think it’s safe to say that people tend to have a general impression of him from his body of work; he plays the awkward and neurotic but charming and endearing character a little too well; and he’s very much in conversation as you’d imagine — awkward, yes, neurotic, yes, but charming in heaps and very sharp and smart. and funny. i’d known he’d written a play that he’d be starring in starting in february, and i’d known he’d written and acted in a play last year, too, but i had my doubts, honestly, in the way that i doubt every actor or singer or celebrity who decides to write. (or, as is usually the case, “write.”) after hearing him in conversation, though, i was very much intrigued (and very much in love) and curious, so off i went to the theatre, and i can say in all honesty that i really liked the revisionist.
i’m shit with summaries, so i’m not going to try to summarize the play here (google’s your friend), but here’s a bit i wrote in my journal when i got home. i’ve edited out possible spoilers, and forgive the clumsy writing — i didn’t edit it at all:
"… I loved what it said about family — how we had these two characters who were so different — to him, family doesn’t mean much, but, to her, family is everything. She lives all the way out in Poland but knows more about their extended family Stateside; he doesn’t really understand why she’d hang the photographs of people who don’t come to visit her on her walls; and, in the end, when she tells him the truth, … and he tells her he doesn’t care — that statement "I don’t care" means one thing to him and is his way of accepting her … but, to her, the words are a rejection, that it doesn’t matter, she doesn’t matter, he only chose to come to Poland as a last resort, anyway. Even though he’s there visiting her in Poland, he’s no better than all the other extended family she hangs on her walls but to whom she doesn’t exist."
at least, that’s one thing i took away from the play, and i’m kind of dying to see it again because i do that — once i watch something i like, i want to watch it again (and again) (and again, sometimes). (the same applies to films; there are honestly so few films i actually like that, if i stumble upon one i do, then i can’t get enough.)
there’s this beautiful scene in the play, too, where david (eisenberg) finally lets maria (vanessa redgrave) tell him who the people in the photographs are, and he asks her how many of these people came to visit her, and she tries to deflect the question, and it’s this beautiful but painful scene, so wonderfully acted by both of them. jesse eisenberg and vanessa redgrave work very well together in the play, and, oh, god, vanessa redgrave — i don’t think it even needs to be said that she is stellar. so stellar.
jesse eisenberg’s one to watch, i think, not just as a film actor but kind of just … as a creative person? or even as a human being? in the least creepy way possible, i mean. i like his bluntness, the fact that he doesn’t try to project a persona or fit a mould, and i particularly like that he is clearly a thinking, introspective person who reflects upon himself. he did an interview with vulture (i think that’s how i should cite it), in which he talked about the first play he wrote, asuncion, and there are two specific things he says that i actually wrote into my journal and replied to, not only because his responses were in themselves thought-provoking but also because they resonated on a personal level — and i’ve thought of posting them here, and i guess we’ll see if i actually do.