Saturday, August 25, 2007

The anti-war position

I saw a truly awful play last night, Charles Mee's Iphigenia 2.0. A cheap and unimaginative updating of Euripides, with none of the interest or complexity of the original. It's a pity, too, because the set's quite lovely--but as soon as the actor playing Agamemnon strode up to the front of the stage and started delivering an extremely talky and abstract monologue about politics, my heart sank--the writing's awful, the acting's pretty weak (due to bad direction, I felt, rather than lack of talent, it's a promising group), and the whole adaptation is muddled and ill-thought-through.

Mee doesn't seem to have intellectually figured out what he wanted to do--the Bush parallel is insisted upon very heavy-handedly, down to blond-Texas-style-party-girl daughter-casting, and yet the basic premise of the Euripides play (which I must reread, it's been too long...) does not really clearly have anything to do with Bush, this is hardly a man having inner torment or being torn as to whether or not to sacrifice his own child or whatever!

I spent most of the (mercifully brief) play trying to find a comfortable position to sit in that wouldn't make my leg muscles more sore than they were already and entertaining myself thinking of scathing observations to put on the blog.

(I was also sitting next to a fellow with a very rustly plastic bag, most annoying; it was one of the more incongruous book-spottings I've seen recently, BTW, he was a late-middle-aged man there with a woman who I presume was his wife, not at all untypical theatergoers, and yet up until the very minute the house lights went down he was absolutely glued--as I used to be glued when I was a child, prompting my brothers at dinnertime to chorus "No reading at the table!" or "Mom, Jenny's reading at the table again!"--one of Christine Feehan's Carpathian vampire novels...)

By the end, though, I had decided that it was punishment enough for these poor actors to have to be prancing around stage (in many cases half-naked) and that I would refrain from savaging the production as it seemed to deserve....

A heavenly dinner afterwards, at what is surely one of the very nicest restaurants in New York. It's unusual partly because while the food and the service are both at a very high standard, it's significantly more casual than most of the top-end places you go to round here, which is very nice. They don't make a big deal about seating you without a reservation, and the food is simply the loveliest imaginable thing, light enough and nutritious enough to be not horrendously different from eating a normal meal and yet the Platonic perfection of whatever thing it is you're eating. The restaurant is Esca: I had grilled Portuguese anchovies with capers to start, then a divine hunk of seared tuna with a panzanella salad that had one or two bite-sized pieces of about six different heirloom tomato varieties, then sorbet for dessert (and this is the most delicious sorbet imaginable--flavors different every night, last night it was blackberry-plum, blueberry and--most deliciously--white nectarine, with a cookie that is basically pure crisped-in-a-waffley-Dutch-type-fashion butter). They bring a little plate of petits-four at the end and I always think, "Oh, we are not really going to eat all of those," and then the next thing you know they are gone... Delicious!

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