Friday, October 6, 2017

Full Hunter's Moon Fever

For a while there, we couldn't find it.

Mac and I strolled Jackson Ward to reach the Basement, confident we'd be able to catch a glimpse of tonight's full hunter's moon along the way. Wrong. At nearly an hour past sunset, we walked nine blocks and never saw so much as a glimpse of it.

I was so determined to see it that after we'd claimed our tickets, we returned to the streets to stroll some more in hopes that the taller buildings were just blocking its rise. After all, we'd both seen how magnificent it had been last night, so tonight was bound to be even better.

Nada. We walked two blocks east, then three blocks west and all we got was a guy panhandling. When I told him that regretfully, neither of us carried cash, he slapped his leg and said to me, "Now I remember you!"

Now you remember the woman who walks this neighborhood without carrying cash? Good, so stop asking me for it.

And still, no moon to be found, so we gave up our quest.

After admiring the new sign on the brick reading, "The Basement," we walked down the stairs to the subterranean theater to see "The Last Five Years."

Because who wouldn't want to see a play that addresses the issues of a relationship that only lasts five years? Hell, I've known people who've set that as their maximum relationship tolerance right from the first date.

Like so many plays I've seen in the past couple years, this one had no intermission which allowed the differing memories of a couple - his told in chronological order, hers told in reverse - to play out against each other without interruption, the two threads meeting in the middle only for the wedding scene.

It was the kind of story that anyone who's ever been in a loving relationship that ultimately ended - and, let's face it, that's an awful lot of us - can relate to on various levels.

What was interesting was that the action played out on a stage down the middle of the room (with the band in the back) and the audience lined up on two sides, able to see the action and the other side's reaction.

I don't know about you, but a musical that begins with a woman singing "Still Hurting" post-breakup is going to resonate on a lot of levels, some of which we could see in people's faces across the stage.

It was a simple story, really: boy who's written a book and girl who wants to be an actress meet and fall in love. Jamie's career gains traction (about getting a story published in Atlantic Monthly, he sings, "Two thousand dollars without rewriting a word!" - a writer's wet dream) while Cathy struggles and they lose sight of each other, resulting in a break-up.

We didn't have to get very far in for me to realize with certainty that the play must have been written by a man. There was an insecurity to Cathy, an inability to be happy for Jamie's success because her own career was stalled, that made her seem petty and playing victim.

As the two worked through problems, both began looking for the reasons - what didn't he do, how she didn't give as much as she could have - just like we do in real life when cracks in a relationship inevitably show up.

As Jamie, Alexander Sapp owned the stage with killer vocals, insightful gestures and effortless acting from the moment he appeared. In fact, on the chalkboard in the loo, someone had drawn five stars and written, "Alexander Sapp...tasty!" and signed it Michelle Obama.

And when is Michelle wrong?

Christie Jackson with her stellar voice and heartbreaking songs made the most of a role that gave her character the power to fall in love almost at first sight, but not to change what life handed her, whether career-wise or in her love life. The kind of powerless woman you'd expect from a '50s play, not one written in 2001.

In the director's notes, Chelsea Burke wrote that the play was an invitation to reflect on past relationships in their entirety (gee, I've never done that at 4 a.m.) and a reminder that love leaves no one unchanged.

If there's a more timeless topic, it doesn't immediately come to mind.

Back on the street after being wowed by the performance, Mac and I were greeted by the hunter's moon, finally hanging above the building line and beaming its light over the city streets.

Love may not always be reliable, but at least the moon is. What matters is remembering that love is always possible...

No comments:

Post a Comment