Thursday, May 31, 2012

Merry and Tragical

Park once, party twice. Sadly, though, I paid the price.

Nay, faith, let me not play a woman, for I have a  beard coming.

And that's the beauty of a gender-reversed play. Those actors playing women do have beard potential.

Firehouse Theater was doing "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with fifteen women playing the male parts.

As if the pleasure of men playing women wasn't sufficient, there were also actors of a tender age playing believable love-besotted youths (Hermia and Lysander).

There was anachronistic humor, like when the bumbling troupe needed moonlight for their play and decided to check the calendar to see if the moon would be bright for them.

In this version, that calendar was on a smartphone, around which they all gathered to determine that the moon would indeed be shining for their performance.

There was innuendo, like when Bottom (played to perfection by Molly Hood) said, "I could munch your good dry oats."

So that's what the kids were calling it in Shakespeare's time. Munching.

There was physical humor, as when Demetrius says, "Let's follow him and, by the way, let, whoa, us recount our dream."

The "whoa" occurred when she nearly ran into a pole.

Or when Bottom says, "And, most dear actors, eat no onion nor garlic for we are to utter sweet breath," as one of her fellow actors takes a bite of sandwich, leaving onion hanging from her mouth.

There was the most plaintive and unloved Helena imaginable in the always hysterically dour Dean Knight.

There was mad doting by multiple couples not to mention lovers making moan.

The performance was especially timely since I'd just seen Richmond Shakespeare do the very same play at Maymont not three weeks ago.

Of course, in that version Hermia didn't stand up to pee and Theseus didn't have breasts.

Call me a mortal fool, but all shall be well when Firehouse does a gender exploration of anything by the Bard.

In other words, count me in.

From the forest of the fairies to a blog's birthday party we went. Luckily it was on the same block.

RVAPlaylist was celebrating its second birthday, and as I explained to a fellow music lover, it wasn't that I wanted to go, I had to go.

Of course I wanted to as well.

And why not? The show was free, there was a band I'd never seen and was eager to, one of my long-time favorite bands was playing and there would be birthday cake.

Oh, yes, and literally dozens of people I knew would be there.

Happily, I walked into the Camel to a clutch of familiar faces right up front.

Greeting people, hugging friends and hearing my name called, I turned to see a friend with outstretched arms.

"Is this the Karen receiving line?" he asked only half mocking.

Why, yes, it was.

Against Grace were already playing their brand of pop punk (think Jimmy Eat World) to a crowd of rapturous fans exactly like my friend had described them.


Once their set ended, I set out to finish saying hello to everyone I knew, a never-ending attempt, since inevitably I'd see someone else I hadn't yet seen.

Dead Fame played second and brought their 21st-century take on Joy Division (and a different crowd) to life under minimal lighting and a crowd that moved incessantly with the beat of the music.

As a pal noted, the band had done their 80s homework and lead singer Michael was a study of Ian Curtis as he delivered post-punk and staccato dance moves.

Marionette was last and they too had their own fan base, allowing them to take their music in some new directions instead of playing only familiar material.

We die hards love that kind of fan-centric set list.

Guitarist Adam began their set by thanking Andrew, RVAPlaylist's author, for his long-time interest in the band.

The only thing Adam forgot to mention was who had originally introduced Andrew to Marionette's music.

I don't want to name names, but it was the same woman (not played by a man tonight) who was assured that if she came to the birthday party tonight, not only would there be cake, but she was free to lick the icing off the edge of the plate.

That's a pretty sweet enticement.

All in all, the birthday party had been great fun and it's hard to beat free music.

Well, not exactly free.

I walked out to find a $60 ticket on my car. Really? This is what our cops are doing with their time at night?

Although I'd parked in the same space I've parked for years to go to the Firehouse and the Camel, apparently now it's off limits after 11 p.m.

Ah, well. The course of true fun never did run smooth.

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