Thursday, October 13, 2011

LOGOS: Other Desert Cities

Yesterday marked the start of previews for the Broadway engagement of the play Other Desert Cities.  Last year, it was the hit of the off-Broadway season, had a slightly different cast and a completely different logo.  But today's the day I'm concerned with, and this new logo has my attention.

There is a lot going on here, and I have to admit that knowing a little about plot fills in some of the blanks.  But, like I've always said, these things only truly work when you consider that people decide on buying a ticket after about 20 seconds.  So, in that brief time, what would draw my eye?

First, there is the bright sea blue color that takes up the most space.  Nothing around it is the same color, it seems, whether you are seeing it on the screen of your computer or on 45th Street.  Bright and vibrant your eye is drawn to the color.  Then there is the most important thing - the title of the show, to which your eye drifts effortlessly as you gaze at all of that blue.  The white block letters both draw your eye and work so comfortably with the blue.  All caps and bold typeface, the title is bold and gives the air of importance. 

But wait!  Just as your eye registers the title, you notice something is askew here.  It is cracked and broken, and then (after you briefly think, 'gee, that's just like The Phantom of the Opera') you realize that the entire logo is an image behind a piece of broken glass.  Is it a window that overlooks the scene or is it a piece of picture frame glass?  Either way, the serenity of the picture, which you are now noticing behind all the cracks, is broken.

And that scene... hmmm...the title includes the word "desert."  But there is no sand in sight, but there is a lot of water in the pool next to that very open, luxurious home, framed by palm trees in the background.  Ah ha!  Are we in Palm Springs?  Some desert getaway in Arizona?  One look at that house and picturesque pool tells us that the owners are wealthy.  The whole title is "Other Desert Cities," so perhaps, as the wealthy say, "These things don't happen here.  They happen other places." (Insert any scandal or mishap for "these things.")  So, maybe the "Other" perhaps refers to a scandal or problem that the people in the house will face that only happens "other" places.

OK.  That is perhaps a bit of a stretch made easy because I know the basic plot of this new Jon Robin Baitz play, which includes a wealthy conservative family, a rogue daughter about to publish a revealing book about the family, and all of the issues and mayhem its publication may cause.  Perhaps that family's spin doctors would say, "That kind of thing only happens to people in other desert cities, NOT here!"

Now I'm thinking of that adage, "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." Maybe that glass is a window at a neighbor's and someone inside has thrown the first stone against this other neighbor. No matter how it happens, that broken glass tells us the play is a cautionary tale.

Still, the logo, all on its own, certainly peaks my interest: the color draws my eye, the title sticks out and makes me wonder why it is broken, and the image - a wealthy home and luxurious pool - makes me want to know what the hell is broken.  And maybe the middle class in me, hopes that the rich folks in that house really get it "stuck to them."  These days, I can certainly join in the hue and cry against the rich getting richer!  Get me a ticket!

The Broadway Cast of Other Desert Cities:
Thomas Sadoski, Judith Light, Stockard Channing,
Stacy Keach and Rachel Griffiths
Photo by Joan Marcus

(Side note:  With a logo you can't normally see who is in the cast.  To be honest, the logo here really only adds to my desire to see this play.  It is the cast - namely Stockard Channing, Judith Light and Rachel Griffiths - that really makes me want to buy a ticket.)

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