Report From New York

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Kevin Spacey as Richard III, in a production by the Bridge Project out of The Old Vic in London, directed by Sam Mendes, was indescribably amazing.  As both the New Yorker and the New York Times noted in their reviews, Spacey is truly over the top in his portrayal of “Richard III,” and he pulls it off.  David, Anne, Steve and I were stunned by the brilliance of the performance and the entire production.  David and I cancelled our foodie dinner reservation for last night and went to see another play instead, because we were hungrier for more live performance than we were for fancy food.

Yesterday we saw “And God Created Great Whales,” a Culture Project production of a play created, composed and written by Rinde Eckert, who also stars in the play.  Eckert plays Nathan, an aging piano tuner/composer who is losing his memory while he’s trying to complete an opera based on Moby Dick.  The play was first performed in 2000 and again in 2001, 2009, and now.  Using a tape recorder to keep himself on track, and a muse embodied in a beautiful woman named Olivia (played by Nora Cole), Nathan explores music, memory, love, the meaning of life and time and space, and how art keeps us on track.  Not simple stuff, but layered through dialogue and music in a complex weave that made David and I clear we’d made the right decision to forego foodieness for another immersion in theater.

And then there’s the visual intensity of Manhattan, certainly different from Paris, but just as compelling.  The peeling walls and old plaster of the un-refurbished interior of the Brooklyn Academy of Music Harvey Theater revealed lovely old patterns, the NYC subway tile work is brilliantly decorative at many stops, the long avenues unfold into long views of what looks like endless city, Cafe Grumpy’s decorative capucinno is delicious, and the walk along the Hudson River Greenway yesterday was a grand reminder of the seaport origins of this magnificent city.

This was all swirling in my head as we left the theater yesterday.  I stopped and looked at the piano where Nathan had sat, fringed with sticky notes like a shawl of memory and music and bounded by a rope to help hold in his tenuous connection to the present.  The piano grinned like a secret from the stage.

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