Saturday, October 8, 2016

Purple Haze

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result, then the definition of stupidity is doing something in the most time-consuming and arduous kind of way. Repeatedly.

Welcome to Foto Boy and I trying to go to the theater tonight.

When he comes to pick me up, I point out the obvious: we should be walking. At 3/4 of a mile, and knowing that there are two events at CenterStage tonight, it only makes sense.

Still, we drive.

And drive. And slow down looking for parking spaces and go down streets clogged with other motorists. Drive down the same streets repeatedly with the same result (see above): no spaces. A couple of times, we got close to Main Street, a major mistake considering this is opening night for Folk Fest.

Yes, he's my friend, but he's also got a "Y" chromosome, so when I tried to gently suggest we head away from CenterStage and away from the Folk Fest (ergo, north or west), he got crotchety and insisted I let him find parking.

Only problem was he was so flustered he wasn't even thinking by this point, say, roughly 20 minutes into the endeavor. We could have walked over from my apartment and started back in that much time.

Finally, he agreed to cross Broad and we found a space on the first block. Time elapsed: 25 minutes.

Only problem was, we were still five blocks from the Gottwald Playhouse and this is not a man who can keep up with my walking pace, much less my pace when it's curtain time and we're blocks away.

Bless his heart, he tried, though, huffing and puffing all the way up until an usher on the sidewalk asked, "Comedy or Dracula?" and I answered for him. At Will Call, the woman said they'd held the curtain for five minutes, so the play was just now beginning.

Our only saving grace was the other three people who were as late as we were.

We were told to stand on the sides until we got the nod to sit, but we were so near the stage that I, at least, was immediately swallowed up in the action onstage, where force meat was being mentioned. When the usher came to fetch us and lead us to seats, it took a second for me to make the transition back to reality.

But made it I did, so I could be fully present to accept, as we walked up steps to reach our seats, that we were those annoying, oblivious people - who had somehow not allowed enough time to park on a Friday night when half of Richmond would be downtown - who were now obstructing their view getting seated.

Sigh. I believe the proper term for us is "rubes."

One reason I'd been eager not to miss so much as a minute of Quill Theatre's production of "Dracula" is that (for shame) I really don't know much about the story because I'd definitely never read Bram Stoker's novel.

And this was a 1996 adaptation by Steven Dietz, so I'm still not entirely certain if the story I got is the same as the original 1897 version. Thankfully, a lot of the language had the more formal feel of the 19th century, so it may have been original.

It was far sexier than I expected and much funnier, like when Dracula says, "The Huns were despicable but they did make good wine!" but also groovier (signs read: "Haze will be used") and more poignant ("What of the great un-beautiful multitudes?").

And the biggest surprise? How limited Count Dracula's role was. Oh, sure, he was talked about plenty, but onstage infrequently, albeit imposingly in his all-black Goth ensembles.

My logical side objected when suitors would provide the necessary blood transfusions to their weakened beloveds with no concern for blood type and my inner art historian was annoyed when Leonardo was referred to as "da Vinci," his hometown and not his name at all.

And why did all the women have on period tops yet pants rather than skirts, on the bottom?

But theater, as we know, is about suspension of belief after all, so I suspended in order to appreciate the multi-level set, the moody lighting and the way the cast completely inhabited their roles.

I'm a tad better informed on the legend of Dracula as a result.

Walking back to the car, Foto Boy was busy explaining how tired he was, so he couldn't possibly accompany me to the Carnival of 5 Fires at Gallery 5 to watch the fire performers before driving home.

Which is exactly why, after spotting a free parking space across from GWAR Bar, I didn't hesitate to tell him to pull into it and accompany me for a short while. After 7 years of friendship with this guy, I knew he'd be glad to have gone once we got there.

"You think you know me so well, don't you?" he said in his smarmiest voice as we got out of the car, but the truth is, I do know him pretty well and, at the very least, way better than his girlfriend of less than a year does.

So my answer was yes.

Only problem was, we got up to the closed street just as the ringmaster was closing down the show and sending people to the afterparty at Strange Matter.

"It's time to get out of the street, get on to the sidewalk and pick up your trash!" he exhorted the great beautiful and un-beautiful multitudes, many of whom wore gypsy-like threads. "Our street permit just ended!"

Ah, but that wasn't all.

"And don't forget to vote! It's an important election this year! Don't forget to drink know, our bodies are mostly made of water! And be nice to people because it's the right thing to do!"

So while we didn't get to see any fire performers, we at least saw the burning torches resting by the stage as he outlined the ABCs of life to remind those who needed them.

The only one he left out was, "Don't bother driving when walking is faster and easier!"

Needless to say, I walked home. Whether Foto Boy made it home or is still looking for a parking space, I really can't say.

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