Gooseberries. Nine Inch Nails. Jeremy introduced Jenny to both. They picked gooseberries in Jeremy’s backyard when they were just kids, a couple of fourth graders playing around. Jeremy played Jenny Nine Inch Nails in eighth grade as they were wading into the treacherous waters of adolescence. These moments of Jeremy sharing his tastes with Jenny are among my favorites in Cinnamon and Cigarettes. Audiences tend to laugh at each. We all remember the pressure to like something unfamiliar when our best childhood friend shared it with us for the first time. And we can all relate to the way matters of taste felt so central to our identity as teenagers. During the show Jenny plays piano and sings snippets of songs she and Jeremy loved. The way Cinnamon and Cigarettes integrates music feels very familiar and true to life: from the way music bonds friends to the way we reach for music to alternately amplify or sooth our pain.
Jenny and I are good friends as well as collaborators. Nine Inch Nails, though, is a point of disagreement. Closer is a great song and all, but I just have no interest in the rest of Reznor’s oeuvre. When I want to indulge my pain I turn to country music, say Kasey Chambers, when I want to spit on society it’s The Coup. Back in high school, Tori Amos would have occupied the first category and Hole the second and if you disliked either artist, I probably mistrusted you and harbored the suspicion that you were against all things good, or at least women.
All of this pondering of musical taste during Cinnamon and Cigarettes has made me realize that perhaps one of the best, or at least most under-appreciated parts of adulthood is the way that we retain the ability to be passionate about our tastes but lose that gut sense that differences of opinion are an attack. Whether you love, hate, or are indifferent to Nine Inch Nails, you can relate to the joy and pain Jeremy and Jenny feel in Cinnamon and Cigarettes and how the music woven throughout the show spoke to them. Also, Jenny is a beautiful piano player and vocalist.
The Portland run of Cinnamon and Cigarettes ends September 7th. Hope to see you at The Backdoor Theater, or you can catch us at the Exit Theater in San Francisco, Sept 11th, 14th, 15th, 20th and 21st.