I took a walk to Coney Island the other day, and from there I hopped the F train to reach a part of Brooklyn not otherwise that accessible from my current Bensonhurst abode. I travelled to Carroll Park, in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood, to see the production of Romeo and Juliet being produced by my friends at Smith Street Stage. (Which is a fine production that you should see if you can; you can learn about it here.) They’ve produced Romeo and Juliet before; the company started with a small-scale, five actor presentation of the play staged in a slightly different part of the same park. And all the time, as I was watching the show, I kept wondering why they’d return to the admittedly ever-popular R&J so soon, when there’s so much of the canon still awaiting them.
Until I realized that this was a special, anniversary production. This scrappy company – which, to me, seems like something my friends just started – was staging its tenth season at Carroll Park.
(Well, technically it’s nine years since that first production, and its tenth season of productions overall. But you get the idea.)
This keeps happening. Prominent revivals keep happening on Broadway of plays that I could have sworn were just produced. Like the current production of Frankie and Johnnie in the Clair de Lune with Audra McDonald and Michael Shannon. Didn’t we just have the Edie Falco/Stanley Tucci production? Well, no – that production was from 2002, seventeen years ago. Same with Burn This – the Edward Norton/Catherine Keener only just happened, right? Do we need the Adam Driver/Keri Russell production so soon after – well, no, once again, it’s been seventeen years between major revivals.
I could have sworn they both only just happened.
I think we’re all going through this. The recent end of the major MCU story arc with Avengers:Endgame underscored that the original Iron Man came out eleven years ago. That movie only just came out, right? And it came out the same summer as The Dark Knight, which means that all those tired “Why So Serious?” jokes your friends keep making are also eleven years old. (And have been doing a lot of damage over those years.) And speaking of pop movie spectacles that inadvertently helped shape the alt-right – remember The Matrix? That movie turned twenty years old this year. (I won’t bother trying to calculate what age that makes Keanu Reeves, since we all know he’s an immortal Highlander or something.)
But the one that takes the cake? This past weekend marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Tim Burton’s Batman. BATMAN IS THIRTY YEARS OLD. The superhero movie boom that movie kicked off – that still feels like a fad that’s got to play itself out somehow at some point – has been going on for thirty years. To put that in perspective, if one day in June of 1989 you decided to watch a thirty year old movie because there was no way you could buy Mister Mom as Batman, you would be watching Ben Hur. Or North by Northwest. Or Some Like it Hot.
I’m not really going anywhere with this, other than to point out that unlike those perpetually doomed adolescents Romeo and Juliet, the rest of us are getting old. And it seems like that’s happening faster and faster these days.