Culture Vulturing

Earlier this month, my friend the E-techer and I were having lunch and she mentioned the culture vulturing post I'd recently done.  Apparently her otherwise wonderful husband wouldn't even consider going to these events, and she was jealous that not only did Thing One want to go, he'd suggested some of the plays (her amazement and jealousy grew when I said that Thing One originally said this was the year "he wanted to see more ballet").  Of course, Thing Two is closer to Mr. E-tech's way of thinking, so...

Let's not dwell on the fact that I had squealing teen girls in my car on the train ride down, shall we?  Instead, let's focus on the fact that Cyd is settling in nicely, and seeing The Girls was something to which I was looking forward.

Considering that I've had a place to lay my head in what's known as "Brownstone Brooklyn" since 1993, you'd think I'd know more places to eat than I do.  Problem is, I tend to be a creature of habit and places like Cafe on Clinton were a good habit to have.  So it's a bit embarrassing that I learned about a wonderful French restaurant via a British blogger, Swisslet.  Last night was our second dinner there (we've also had brunch there once) and once again we left saying "we must eat there more."  The soupe aux oignons was among the best I've had, and the osso bucco was yummy.  Dessert for me was a trio of creme brulee, and while the regular and Nutella versions were ok, the lemon version was heavenly.  (Thing One enjoyed his meal, too, but he can rave about that in the comments if he's so moved).  Also, who knew that Michigan had good vineyards?  Seriously?  Well, Gamay Noir has made it on to my Must Drink list.

Two bottles and a good meal later, we left to head to BAM.  Thanks to the snow, and it being a Saturday evening, buses along Atlantic Avenue weren't running frequently, so we walked to the theatre.  Remind me to get new snowboots.  Our seats were in the balcony, and I'm not the best at heights but they were wonderful seats.  What were we seeing?  The Abbey Theatre's transfer of John Gabriel Borkman, an Ibsen play. The big draw, of course, was Alan (squee!!) Rickman... but I've seen Fiona Shaw before and had just finished watching Lindsey Duncan in "Shooting the Past" (haven't see it?  add it to your Netflix queue now! and ignore the fact that Timothy Spall is now ubiquitous).  

My first thoughts were that I hoped they hadn't spent money on the set (sparse furnishings among snow drifts) because I was sure that the parking garage next door could spare a few shovelsful.  When the play started, I was happy that the audience didn't do the awful American thing of applauding the Big Star when he or she arrives on stage, before they've said (or sung) one word.  As for plot, think Madoff... Lay... or any financial scandal of the past few years.  How prescient of Ibsen to write this over 100 years ago!  John Gabriel Borkman (referred to by his wife as "Him" or "the bank manager") embezzled a fortune, of course it was for the good of the people but it still led to 11 years of official incarceration, and 8 years isolated on the second floor of his house, now owned by his sister-in-law (and first love), who bought the house when it was auctioned off to recover assets.  

Ella and Gunhhild are locked in a battle over Erhart, the heir to the Borkman name and hope for its redemption.  He, on the other hand, is involved with Mrs. Wilton, a - gasp! - divorcee and wants nothing more than to leave Norway with his love.  Much declaiming and speechifying later, Erhart is gone, John Gabriel is dead, and the twin sisters are left holding hands in the snow.  Of course the acting was excellent, and the script was surprisingly fast-paced (none of that second act drag).  Had we seen this at the start of the run, the snow set (including second act snowstorm) wouldn't have been so humorous.

So that was the first of my planned theatrical experiences this year... stay tuned for further adventures!

1 comment:

Aravis said...

Alan Rickman is most definitely worth a sigh - or a squee. *G*