historical game of telephone
Sunday, July 22 2012
As part of the month-long series of celebrations attending Ray's 45th birthday this year, today Gretchen and I picked up Ray and Nancy and took them across the Hudson to see a performance of Molière's The Imaginary Invalid. The venue was the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts (monstrous stainless steel example of Frank Gehry starchitecture) at Bard College, a place Gretchen has not enjoyed visiting since being fired from the Bard Prison Initiative. Also at this performance would be our friends Chris & Kirsty, the so-called "photogenic vegans."
Evidently there are multiple performance spaces in the Fisher Center, because the space we filed into was unlike any I'd been to before. It featured two totally separate theatre-style seating areas with a two-level stage sandwiched between them. Because the back of the stage to one set of seats was the front of the stage to the other, performances on it had to be directed in such a way as not to favor one side or the other. Sometimes this was achieved by the actors alternating the directions they faced while other times the actors directed their attention perpendicular to the direction of the two audiences.
The main reason we'd come to this particular performance was to see Peter Dinklage in three dimensional space, having enjoyed his acting in the two dimensional kind. Ray and I were particularly impressed by his work on Game of Thrones, even though his British accent left much to be desired. Indeed, it seemed a little surprising that after all the attention from his Game of Thrones role, Dinklage still had time to dick around at rinky-dink Bard College.
I have to say that after my existentially dreadful time sitting through Waiting for Godot, my expectations were not great even given the all-star cast. But I'd been careful to eat before the performance (a precaution Chris foolishly did not take) and could always rely on my daydreams to entertain me if things should move too slowly. But actually the play moved along at a brisk pace and, despite its age, had authentically funny jokes in it. There was even a moment in the play when the efficacy of doctors was being discussed and one of the characters mad the observation that doctors weren't of much practical use, but that who knows, maybe in a couple hundred years that might change. Of course, since this was a modern adaptation in contemporary English of an earlier adaptation of a French play, it's hard to know how the historical game of telephone had altered its content.
As for Peter Dinklage, he was great. A lot of what made him so great were his bustling about making crazy facial expression and hand gestures, some of which he repeated to hilarious effect. All the actors tonight were male, though three of the characters were female, including the maid played by Dinklage. I usually think of crossdressing as a bit of a tiresome, anachronistic gag, but it sort of worked in this case. It was even possible to briefly suspend gender disbelief regarding the actor playing the daughter of the hypochondriacal lead character.
After the play, the four of us went to Luna 61, the vegetarian restaurant that I have liked since it moved to Tivoli. Today, though, Gretchen and I conclusively realized that we actually don't like their food very much. The curries are too sweet, and many of their dishes (particularly the ones they make with noodles) are bland and decidedly inferior to what we can make at home. None of that would matter, but all the food is also decidedly overpriced; a pot of noodles in either bland or overly-sweet will run you $17. It was, however, good to be exposed to a brand new beer today: Peak Organic's King Crimson Imperial Red, a thick, hoppy, boozy brew which I highly recommend. Ray and I split two large bottles of it, which came to $24 before tax, title, and tip. But if it weren't for the wholesome-faced waitresses climbing up and down that spiral staircase in their sassy little dresses, the math of the experience would have probably turned out negative on balance. I suppose it was a good day to learn that Luna 61 is in the process of being sold and that the owner is moving to Burlington to pursue her calling as a baker.
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