Because I am rarely a fiction reader, I had no familiarity with Toni Morrison's 1970 novel "The Bluest Eyes."
Still I was intrigued enough by Theater VCU's production of it to find myself among the group at tonight's stellar performance.
And despite a range of difficult subject matter (incest, racial self-loathing, and racism in general) the play was a satisfying evening's entertainment.
The cast was strong in their complex characterizations, and the sets and costumes perfectly conveyed 1940s Ohio.
In what was perhaps due to the series of dangerous storms that rolled through Richmond today, the power went out near the end of the first act and we were plunged into darkness.
The actors remained on stage until it became clear that the problem would take some time to fix and they exited, returning to perform the last five minutes before intermission.
The story of a young girl raped by her father, made pregnant and then losing the baby conveyed the believable journey of her descent into madness.
Tragically, the title of the play refers to the main character's belief that if her brown eyes were changed to blue she would be loved and happy.
Watching the play, I was acutely aware of the young, black members of the audience and cringed a little at the difficult moments.
Afterwards in the ladies' room, I overheard two girls talking about the play.
"That was dumb. It was just about her wanting blue eyes," the one said, sounding sorely disappointed with the entire play.
"No, stupid, it was about her being unable to accept herself for who she was." the other countered just before she flushed.
Honestly when the two twenty-something black girls came out of their stalls, I wanted to suggest a discussion group, but thought better of it.
The play is so well done that I can only hope that it reaches wider audiences, both black and white, old and young.
Discussion groups need not ensue because it's the kind if play that will live on in each attendee's memory anyway, whether black or white.
With all that drama fresh on my mind, I went to Ballcieaux for something simple, like meeting a new "friend" for conversation and drinks.
Over a satisfyingly wide-ranging conversation, we enjoyed the local smoked bluefish dip, the artisinal cheese plate and the falafel flat bread (roasted eggplant/ lettuce and tomato/garlicky tahini) while sharing all kinds of personal information (let me tell you why I drink tequila...).
The cheeses could have been fresher, but the other two were so well executed.
It looks like I will be getting over my obsession for smoked bluefish no time soon.
Luckily, Balliceaux accommodates with several smoked bluefish options.
The evening ended with a discussion of local restaurants that included two restaurant owners, so I contributed what I could and took mental notes on the rest, being merely an eater and not a true foodie.
Let's just call it a thoroughly pleasurable evening...and I don't say that lightly.
Or share any further details.