Wednesday, February 24, 2016

You'll Take to the Sky

You know it's going to be a good day when it starts in the clouds.

My road trip took me through rain, mist and wet weather bad drivers, but rewarded me in spades once I started across the arcing Norris Bridge with almost no other traffic on it. Because it's so high and the day was so moist, the entire drive across it was like being suspended in a cloud.

Everything was hidden from view: the shoreline, buildings I knew to be there, the mighty Rappahannock River below, even any sea birds that might have been winging by. Honestly, it felt like floating in mid-air, made all the more exhilarating because I had the windows down to drink in the smell of being inside a cloud.

Satisfying as my day on the water was, so was my evening spent in the company of the best walker I know, who'd picked up the slack when my original date needed to cancel.

Despite a throng of people in line for tonight's Kevin Gates show at the National, we had no problem finding parking in my usual National space, conveniently available. The hostess at Vagabond recognized me at once because as strangers, we had once shared a cheese plate at Amuse. Small world.

The bar was full with so many concert-goers in attendance, so we took a table. While my friend was in the loo, a familiar wine face and his posse sat down at the next table.

When I overheard him say to his Portuguese guests that perhaps they should begin with a Virginia wine, I couldn't resist jumping in, saying it was the least he could do for them given his profession. His eyebrow shot up; clearly I had piqued his interest. How did...?

I love that moment when you remind a man that he's already met you. Even better is when you remind him where and he can immediately recall details.

Moving on, I cast my vote for him to break their Virginia wine cherries before the Portuguese asked for dinner recommendations - easy enough to do after our stellar supper (the only disappointment being they were out of the scallop casserole) - and I left them to enjoy themselves as much as we had.

Griddled ham and Idiazabal bocadillos dunked in salsa verde had gotten us started, a beautifully colorful butternut squash and beet salad with pea shoots had kept us going and killer beef cheeks with grilled pineapple, Manchego churros and a coffee reduction took care of my eating needs and made a convert out of the Vagabond first-timer.

And since the savory churros were so outstanding, we had to try the dessert version, rolled in cinnamon sugar and accompanied by melted chocolate and poblano jam for dipping, making for the exclamation point to our meal.

Saying goodnight to the foreign contingent, we headed four blocks down to TheatreLAB for their Acts of Faith collaboration with the JCC in producing "Bad Jews," a story of three grandkids arguing over their dead grandfather's memory and jewelry, except that they're really arguing about far bigger issues of envy and resentment.

You know how families do.

In this case, it was the ultra-Jewish Diana versus the happily more secular Liam who's about to propose to a shiksa from Delaware, while the mild-mannered younger brother just tries to stay out of the fray.

Recriminations, shouting matches, shoving and revelations, so, needless to say, it's very funny, especially if you enjoy outrageous family drama.

TheatreLAB company artist Kelsey Cordrey's Diana is assured and acerbically overwhelming in making her case for why she should be the chosen one, only showing her insecurity in how she constantly tugs at her Vassar shirt. Her timing's so on point and her portrayal so fierce, it's a role she'll be remembered for in years to come.

Despite the many roles I've seen him play, never have I seen Evan Nasteff - looking geek-handsome in spectacles -  convey the kind of mean-spirited, neurotic behavior that makes Liam as culpable as Diana for the evening from Hell.

Can't you two just get along?

No matter which side you take - maintaining one's pure Jewishness in tribute to the torturous legacy of the past or accepting that as Americans we are a melting pot of races and religions that allows for individuality - both points of view can make a strong case.

"Bad Jews" sure did, insisting that a play should both entertain and provide food for thought.

Not bad for a day that began with my head in the clouds, feet nowhere near the ground.

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