Friday, February 6, 2015

Dancing in the Moonlight

Everyone's whining about Mercury in retrograde, but I can't say I've noticed any effects myself.

I've read people say that it's a period when communication goes haywire and weird things happen, but I had no problem meeting a charming polymath at the preview night performance of "The Lion in Winter" at VMFA.

Might as well go ahead and admit it, I'd seen neither the play nor the film, although I did look up Eleanor of Aquitaine beforehand so I'd have a little background.

It was easy finding a single seat in the fourth row near a well-dressed man who was also companion-less. The artistic director soon informed us, "You are our ambassadors so if you like what you see, please tell everyone you know. If you don't like it, let's keep it our little secret."

Then, appropriately before a play about a long-time married couple, she wished a couple - Vaughn and Nick - happy 33rd anniversary. Then it was on to a 12th century Christmas.

Through lies, deception, manipulation and posturing, we watched as Henry II's family played out its dysfunction in every relationship - parent/child, husband/wife, siblings - and interaction. Everyone was so busy scheming it was a miracle anyone had time to wage war, father illegitimate children or run the country and isn't that what British royalty did back then?

Much was made of Eleanor's age - 60- with comments such as, "I've heard she's aging badly," followed by her son's gleeful request, "Let's go look!" She directs them, "Take what memory you have of me and mark it out of date." That's what happens to a woman's looks when her husband, the king, imprisons her for ten years for helping her son plan a rebellion against him.

During intermission, I pulled out my Washington Post to read while the man next to me pulled out his book but before long he spoke to me and reading materials were set aside. Even readers can't resist the spoken word.

Turns out he was the theater critic for the Richmond Times Dispatch years ago and for at least the first six years after I moved to Richmond, meaning surely I'd read his work at one point. Interestingly enough, he'd also written critiques for the RTD of opera, ballet and art. I was amazed to hear that one year alone, he'd seen 200 plays (because of trips to NYC and London, lucky dog).

We really clicked when he told me that his only qualifications for the job had been all of his going out to events and a knack for writing. When I shared that I go out every night, he insisted that was proof that I was qualified to write about culture. Imagine his surprise when he heard what I do.

The 1966 play had a contemporary layer to it with humorous asides ("Of course we all have knives. It's 1183, we're still barbarians!") and a surprise plot twist involving a gay tryst ("Oh, no!" someone moaned from the back of the theater when it was revealed). Its twisted middle-aged romance ("I could listen to you lie for hours") was timeless and sometimes brutally honest ("Jealousy looks silly on us, Henry").

My new critic friend admitted afterwards that he'd found the acting a bit stiff but attributed it to the first night of the run. Perhaps the cast just needs a bit more time to get used to each other, sort of like with the early years of marriage or cohabitation.

Walking out of the museum, it was so bitterly cold and windy that I considered heading home but since my drive would take me right past Emilio's and music, that seemed like a foolish plan.

The temptation was twofold: Goldrush was playing, so I could expect friends, frivolous discussion and their familiar yet solid sound. Plus Adam and the Yew Banks were opening and I'd fallen hard for them at the Ghost of Pop show in December.

I scored on all counts. The handsome bass player not only regaled me with stories of hiding things from his mother-in-law's prying eyes, he also told a stranger that I'd given him and his wife a housewarming gift of velvet handcuffs (it should be noted that the gift also included two bottles of wine). Also covered were the folly of bourbon shots on Bourbon Street, moving doors and ego-less sax players

Standing near the front of the crowd where plenty of familiar faces gathered, the only downside was the frequency with which the door opened to admit new guests and allow smokers to escape to freeze their patooties off while feeding their addiction.

One smoker clad in a long, summery-looking skirt complained about her poor choice in attire on such a frigid night. "I shaved my legs, what the hell was I thinking?" she asked rhetorically while hiking up her skirt to show me a bare leg. "All I've got on under this is a thong." Yikes, honey.

Once again, Adam and the Yew Banks blew my mind with their well-executed set, a tantalizing combination of great voices, excellent songwriting and an overall sound both loose and polished that had many of us moving our hips to. A musician friend instructed me to pay close attention to how talented the drummer was, but it seemed to me that they all were.

Goldrush took the stage after a break that allowed for the essentials (drummer extraordinaire Willis to set up and Prabir to do a shot) and for more people to arrive to partake of their hook-laden chamber rock.

Although I've been going to Goldrush shows for years, who knows, some of tonight's crowd could have been experiencing the distinct pleasures of two classical musicians playing violin and upright bass in a pop context for the first time. I'd call them Goldrush virgins but I don't want to give Prabir any ideas.

Or maybe they just wandered in off the street because their thongs weren't keeping them very warm and it's so cold out there. So cold I almost bypassed music tonight.

Maybe that was Mercury in retrograde trying to mess me up. Wait, this is 2015, you call that science?

Bueller, Prabir, anyone?

No comments:

Post a Comment