Saturday, May 25, 2013

Moon Luck Struck

Maybe the full moon gave us luck.

Last Friday, my girlfriend and I had tried unsuccessfully to get rush tickets to see "Red" at Virginia Repertory.

Sadly, when the box office opened, they had only one ticket left and there were two of us.

We waited a week and tried again.

Tonight I arrived before the box office even opened and patiently waited eleven minutes so I could try again.

Not only did I get two tickets, but two in the front row.

Super moon score.

Tickets in hand, I scooped up my girlfriend and we headed back to Magpie for dinner.

It was early enough that we made happy hour, with deals on wine as well as small and medium plates.

The luck was just flowing our way tonight.

We took seats at the bar, thrilled to hear that all wines qualified for happy hour prices.

Despite today's drop in temperature, a Spanish Rose caught my eye and we both ended up with Finca Venta D. Quijote 2011 Rose for its pleasing blend of fresh strawberry and nice acidity.

The bartender tried to woo us to the dark side by letting us taste a blackberry/pear cider very close in color to our Rose, but not nearly as much to my taste.

"Does this have any alcohol in it?" my friend asked after several eminently quaffable sips, clearly tempted.

"Yea, and that's the problem with it," chuckled the barkeep.

We listened to the specials and ordered because we had an 8:00 curtain, but went right back to our discussion once the food was in process.

Friend was doing a mild rant about cultural literacy and her frustration at bringing up things that needed explaining.

In a reference to absinthe at work, she was met by blank stares.

She tried going at it from various angles- art, history, liqueurs, death by wormwood, the Lost Generation, ex-pats- to no avail.

"I finally reduced it to black jellybeans and then they got it," she said in her exasperated way.

Don't get me started.

The food was a worthy distraction from Luddites.

Because it's that time of year, we couldn't resist an asparagus special with Georgian olive oil, ham crumbles and a big, fat poached egg on top.

She had scallops while I went straight for the sausage of the day, a seafood/bacon sausage of crab, scallops, snapper and bacon, served with chevre and pear butter.

The richness of the sausage had my girlfriend saying, "It tastes like meat!"

But it was just the prelude to my next course, snapper collar, served with Romesco and micro basil.

Simply prepared with a crusty skin, the rich collar meat was made even better with the fragrant Romesco and it wasn't long before I was picking pieces off the bone with my fingers.

When the chef came out, I raved about the snapper and, in true fisherman style, he used his hands to show us just how big the whole snapper had been on arrival.

In any case, that explained the large collar.

Not long after, a man came over and asked if I was Karen.

I'd met him and his wife at Secco months ago and we'd since had e-mail contact but hadn't seen each other again.

He's a delightful ad man who managed to compliment us both for multiple reasons within the span of five minutes.

His first order of business was the State of the Plate issue, which he said made them realize they were behind in their new restaurant-going.

Seems he'd spotted me when we'd come in but wasn't sure until his wife confirmed my identity.

I remembered how much I'd liked her when he continued to talk to us even after food started arriving at their table and she looked over and told him to take his time with us.

"I better go because she really will eat it all," he said and since she's a former chef, I didn't doubt it.

By that time, we had to go, too or risk missing our delayed evening with Rothko.

Virginia Repertory was doing "Red,"  a play about the period in artist Mark Rothko's life when he was painting murals for the Four Seasons restaurant in the then-new Seagram's Building.

The period when he was essentially selling out.

But the play was about him taking on a young painter as his assistant and the dynamic of the conversations as the up and comer challenged the old man.

Everyone likes everything nowadays.

Because the play took place in 1958-9, there was much talk of TV's insidious role and how art had become interior decoration.

There's tragedy in every brushstroke.

Even music became part of the discussion because Rothko played classical music throughout the play while his younger assistant once had the audacity to put on Dave Brubek.

When you pay the rent, you can pick the records.

I hadn't anticipated how much actual painting there was to be.

Canvases were primed, brushes dipped and flung and wet paint ended up all over the floor and their clothing.

It's the flashiest mural commission since the Sistine Chapel.

The two-man show had been perfectly cast, with David Bridgewater completely inhabiting the  bigger-than-life artist while Maxwell Eddy's understated performance was a revelation as we watched his character grow in confidence and audacity.

Most of painting is thinking.

For me, most of the play was an art history lesson, as I gleaned all kinds of new information about Rothko.

We had nothing to lose and a vision to gain.

By the end, Rothko pulls out of the project, giving back the commission, so that he can keep his art from being housed in a commercial space, a soul-less restaurant where pretentious people won't care about it.

It was essentially an incredibly well-acted story of artistic integrity.

And best of all, both of us got all the references, so no over-explaining was required as we left the theater only to be knocked out by the night sky.

Better to admire the perfect full moon that brought me so many good things tonight.

Seems to me I've got nothing to lose and a vision to gain.

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