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We'll see how long this lasts if I take the pressure off "reviews" and just call it blogging.

January 4 - Copenhagen, Theater J

Second Copenhagen this season in DC, but I skipped the first because a) it was at Fringe in Trinidad which I don't like going to and b) Theater J's production was gonna be the one with cast members I see all the time and like so was more worth my time and money. Ended up not looking up cast before because I wanted to be surprised so was definitely surprised that it was Sherri Edelen along with Michael Russotto and Tim Getman. Michael and Tim are predictable possibilities, but it's been nice seeing Sherri get more work outside musicals. Been waiting to see this script staged for a few years now, and I had forgotten how much I adore it. It's about nuclear morality, except it isn't really, it's about memory. Frayn is working in that nerd play vein that Stoppard excels at, the play that is about a thing so that there's a framework for the real theme of the piece. Copenhagen circles around and replays like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead implies, only it actually shows the spiral. Memory is in many ways about reinventing what happened, the story we tell ourselves more than a recounting of events. It is entirely probable that Heisenberg never actually knew his motive for going to Copenhagen - that he had all motives at one time or another leading up to and during the visit - and that for both Heisenberg and Bohr, the outcome of the conversation is strictly their perceptions and readings and intended expression rather than any sense of what was actually said. The witty comeback you come up with two hours later is, in ten years, the thing you're certain you actually said. So yay Copenhagen, finally, with such a great cast and beautifully staged.

January 8 - Titanic, Signature Theatre

More an oratorio than a musical in a lot of ways - reminded me a lot of Floyd Collins in that respect. Shelling out for a 17 piece orchestra will full string section, including a goddamned harp, is a reminder that we never hear full scores anymore except at the opera. Absolutely lush, beautifully staged, and nearly all my local musical theatre friends are in it. It is always fantastic to see everybody, and I love how Signature physically shrinks the big shows to put you in the middle of the action. Well done, gorgeous score, but I'm ok with this one being a one-off because there is SO MUCH GOING ON RIGHT NOW.

January 10-12 - The Gabriels, Kennedy Center

Richard Nelson's Rhinebeck Political Saga continued. God, I love these things. First was Apple Family - four plays taking place on election day over four years, following an adult, middle class family in Rhinebeck, NY. These are about politics, but only as politics impacts daily life. As much talk is expressed over divorce and elder care and reminiscence as on the actual races, and it's all done in such a natural-seeming conversational idiom that you're looking at a master class in both writing and in acting. There is no acting, there are no speeches - it's a pure naturalism where you don't even really perceive the shaping of themes until you go back through it in your head. Absolutely beautiful work. The Public Theatre asked him to do a new sequence for this year, and his new set of characters is, unlike the Apples, downwardly mobile and struggling to cling to what they've got. And ways in which 2016 seemed absolutely terrible for so many people I know are directly reflected in what makes it terrible for the Gabriels - one of the (middle aged) children has lately died after a long decline from Parkinsons, and everyone is still reeling and grieving while also dealing with Mom's care and decline and everyone's financial burdens and the way opportunity seems to have entirely frozen. Each play premiered on the day it was set - the first was Super Tuesday in March, the second the day after one of the debates in September, and the third on election night itself. And they're so beautifully heartwrenching and full of love and the characters are so well defined and ugh, I feel so much for them, and there's no resolution to the trilogy because life doesn't work that way so neither does Nelson's art. I walked out of the final one remembering something either Baz Luhrmann or Catherine Martin said in interviews when putting together La Bohème on Broadway - that they were doing opera at the speed of life. For them, that was picking up the tempo and running somewhat more headlong through kids in love and bustling crowded Paris at Christmas. Nelson is also doing art at the speed of life - slow and winding and never resolved but going much faster than you think when you look back (each of these is an hour forty-five, focused around getting dinner ready while the out of town sister is back for varying reasons). I love Nelson so much.
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Mme Bahorel

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