Tonguing Meaning 2: Charlie Kaufman

Charlie Kaufman: Hope Leaves the Theater [mp3]

On 13 May 2005, Sirius Radio recorded two audio plays, performed in front of a live audience in London's Royal Festival Hall. The first was written by the Coen Brothers, the other by Charlie Kaufman. The music was composed and conducted by Carter Burwell and played by the Parabola Ensemble, with foley artist Marko Costanzo stealing the show as he manually (magically!) provided sound effects centre stage, behind the reciting stars. The Coen Brothers' Sawbones featured Steve Buscemi, John Goodman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marcia Gay Harden, John Slattery and Brooke Smith; Kaufman's Hope Leaves the Theater was performed by Hope Davis, Meryl Streep and Peter Dinklage (with a cameo by Philip Seymour Hoffman).

Even for a Kaufman script, meta references abound—not worlds within worlds (although there's that too) as much as different layers or types of meta reference. The entire thing's not really neurotic (in that classic New York City sense) as much as it plays on (and lovingly parodies) it. And despite the convoluted cleverness, shot with compulsive bursts of sarcasm, somehow some kind of sincerity survives (in large part thanks to Burwell's score).

Fuck it. I'm not going to write about writing that's far superior to whatever I'd manage to write about it. Just download the damn thing. It's funny. And it's free.

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