Friday, April 22, 2011

Amuse & "Art" If It Makes You Happy, You Can Afford It

If it weren't for all the entertaining of the bar crowd that I do, the staff of Amuse would no doubt be sick of me by now.

But if I'm going to a play at the museum at 8:00, the fact is I'm going to park once and party twice and that means drinks and dinner at Amuse.

Only one bar stool stood empty when I arrived. We call that kismet.

Since not everyone takes up residence at the bar, I had a rotating cast of people with whom I could converse, making for a lively evening before heading downstairs to the theater.

My sparkling rose arrived almost unbidden, but I declined  a dinner menu for the time being.

I soon had the pleasure of one of the curator's company while he waited for his dining companions, but I had to work for it..

Ignoring the empty stool beside me, he stood at the end of the bar, necessitating me asking him, "What's wrong with sitting next to me?"

Bartender Stephen kindly gave me a reference, saying, "You're not going to get better conversation anywhere else."

Thus vetted, he was willing to give me a shot and sat down next to me.

It's hard to do better than a curator for company when you're at a museum.

After an enjoyable talk, I lost him to his tardy friends.

I met a charming couple from Alexandria, visiting for the day (she was a teacher on spring break) to see Picasso.

Learning I was a DC native, they asked me all kinds of questions about Richmond and what to do on their next trip down.

Being the unabashed supporter of our fair city that I am, I gushed to the point that they asked if I worked for the tourism board.

And then I sent them on their way insisting they take Monument Avenue out so they'd have one last scenic view before it got dark and they had to hit soul-sucking I-95.

They thanked me profusely.

They were soon replaced by another even younger couple who reluctantly admitted that they had just seen the Picasso show despite living a mere five blocks from the museum.

Hey, it's not for me to judge.

They are three weeks from their wedding day, so their excuse was that they hadn't been getting out much due to wedding responsibilities.

Tonight was their big date night out and they were reveling in it.

When they discovered where I live, they wanted the scoop on First Fridays and I gave them both the larger and smaller picture; they were practically taking notes.

"We'll look for you!" they said.

I didn't have the heart to explain the folly of that.

Although I'd heartily recommended the mussels and Sausagecraft sausage in garlic butter to both couples (who raved about them and thanked me), I couldn't let Stephen tease me for ordering them yet again.

I more than made do with the grilled asparagus with garlic and  Pecorino in olive oil, followed by the seared rare Ahi tuna over sticky rice with a coconut green curry dressing and fried ginger.

My friends followed suit by getting the tuna once they saw mine and heard me raving.

All of a sudden it was 7:55, so I hightailed it down three flights to the Leslie Cheek Theater.

I was excited because this run of Yasmina Reza's "Art" is the first production at the theater in eight years.

And it was a joint effort of Richmond Shakespeare and Sycamore Rouge, making for double the talent.

I'd seen many plays at Theater Virginia back before it had been closed down prior to the VMFA renovation.

An all-black cast production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" remains a favorite to this day.

The Tony-award winning play about art, friendship and philosophy was great fun.

It centered on three friends, one of whom had spent 200,000 francs on a white on white painting ("Can you see the lines?" the purchaser asks his friend), much to the consternation of his long-time buddy, whom he accused of "running down modernism."

The third friend is far more accepting ("If it makes him happy, he can afford it") but becomes the target of barbs from the other two for trying to quell their disagreements about the painting.

But it wasn't as much about the painting as it was about the friendship and eventually the one admits to the other, "The older I get, the more offensive I hope to become."

Not me.

How can I expect curators and visitors to sit next to me that way?


  1. Well Karen, try changing this around from "The older I get, the more offensive I hope to become" to my Mother's mantra (refined as she grew older): "Don't hold back." Same thing, only less ... offensive.

  2. Great advice! Not that I was doing much holding back by this stage!

  3. I was also at ART last night..thought it was one of the best shows Ive seen in town yet...looking forward to the summer shows Richmond Shakespeare does at Agecroft again

  4. Wish I'd run into you! Yes, it was a thoroughly enjoyable show and very well executed.

    Walking out, I overheard a guy say to his date, "Well, when I saw it in New York, there was music and much more elaborate sets." So?

    Agecroft's season looks great, too. King Lear and Two Gentlemen of Verona...can't wait!