Monday, April 27, 2009

A dance production was on and we were looking forward to seeing “Hey Joe” a series of dances based on the songs of Jimi Hendrix. Leaving the less kind critique to more cold-hearted critics I will only say we were disappointed. And that the Contessa had to resort to pinching me so that I tempered verbal cracks about the lead-footed dance troupe. Adding to the topsy-turvy feel of the entire trip, The Mister and I would see a downtown performance of Macbeth as soon as we returned home, which was quite good. A marvelous African American actor took the lead role and delivered an intensely lean performance. The stage setting spare and the costumes, though equally spare, were imaginative within low-budget constructs. The jet lag kicked in big time halfway through the production though. I felt a bit like I was on an acid trip (from what I recall of those days) and when Macbeth’s severed head bounced across the stage floor (it was theater in the round, no elevated stage) we nearly jumped out of our skin. Not a roly-poly dancer to be found.

The Curve is a marvelous feat of architecture orchestrated by Rafael Viñoly and stunning to behold. Though we didn’t see it, the website informs: “…that when the steel walls separating the stage and the foyer are lifted, the stage will be visible from street level.” The money and the creative efforts seem to have gone into the exterior leaving the interior pretty crappy—lots of cinder block and uninviting spaces. There was nothing in the way of ornamental detailing, apart from the overuse of Helvetica on the signage; no warmth around the café areas. The Contessa likened the restrooms to those one would use at a roadside rest stop. But it still has to evolve, I guess. From what our friends were describing of the brilliant theater performances they had already seen, our little bunch of poise-challenged dancers onstage was an anomaly.

It was off to The Hind! Paula, a lovely hippy dippy sunflower girl and fellow Leo, runs the open mic. The usual cast of characters showed up to cheer The Mister and after he’d done a fine set he invited Siggy to the stage and they blasted through a rousing cover of Steve Earle’s “I ain’t never satisfied.” Before we called it a night the owner of the pub gave us a backstairs tour of the cellar where punk bands once moshed about in the tiny, dank interior, presumably around the casks of beer. We said our melancholy good-byes and I tried mentally imprinting “Uncle” Stanley’s grin in my brain. There was a bit of last minute, late night packing to do yet. Sleep would have to wait until we could be lulled back into it in the chaos of New York.

Pre-dawn darkness and a heavy downpour (the first in our week of unrelenting sunshine) greeted us when we woke. Siggy rallied and drove through it to the airport in Birmingham. The check-in clerk at the departures counter told us that the skies were weeping because we were leaving. A rather less poetic scenario greeted us at Newark International. “What have you done? What have you ever done?” came roaring back at me as we passed through customs and for the first time ever, The Mister was finger printed and he was made to have an iris scan. And I watched dumbly.

Back home there’s a play by Alan Ayckborne on Radio 4 as I write. We watch “Live at the Apollo.” A Scottish comedian with an accent thick as haggis describes a state funeral for Margaret Thatcher as a few hundred Scots with shovels. I howl. We’re watching the 80’s comedy/drama “Auf Wiedersehen Pet” for the nth time. What can I say? It’s comfort food.

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