Saturday, May 3, 2014

an evening at Steppenwolf

so Friday night we went to our second play of the week- at the Steppenwolf Theater - Russian Transport- playing in the upstairs theater- 

here is the synopsis from the brochure about the season- 

"A rowdy Russian family in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn is on a daily hustle to achieve the American Dream. When Uncle Boris arrives from the old country, his mysterious business ventures force the family to decide just how far they are willing to go to come out on top. A funny, passionate family drama that slyly transforms into a heart-pounding thriller, Russian Transport is a fascinating look at the contemporary American immigrant experience."

and here are some photos and information sheets- 

and the review-

as with many things we see - the actors were all fabulous- excellent performances by every ONE of them- skilled nuanced work in a play that needs a lot of nuances.  Not unlike last night's Our Class this play is distinguished by difficult moral and ethical decisions but while Our Class was about life and death and core questions of good and evil, this play was more about ethical dilemmas about money.  if we had seen them in reverse order this may have had much more impact on me, but since we did not, this seemed like much ado about a fairly simple issue.  How willing were each of the characters to participate in the exploitation of others for financial gain.  And in the end - some chose better than others.

in the simplest terms (which of course is never possible in real life) this was a question of - are you going to be a good person but a loser in this particular game of success or an evil person and a winner?

tonight the Joni Mitchell Tribute and concert - and next week - two more plays along with more catching up with friends... before we leave again - for our  60th birthday celebrations in France!

Friday, May 2, 2014

harrowing, gut wrenching theater

so last night we went to see the Remy Bumppo Theater production of "Our Class" - and were blown away by the emotional impact good theater can have on the audience...  before I elaborate I want to give some of the background-

the full timeline - which I will break into smaller parts for easier reading-

I knew going in that it would be a tough evening - the topic of the mass murders of Jews in Poland is one we have known of for quite some time and of course came up against in situ when we were in Poland and Western Ukraine looking for Phil's family's roots.  This play was a horrifying exploration of those acts of genocide against the Jews.  The context of the exploration is a single "grade" class from school from before the world lost its moral compass.  In the opening scenes - some tensions are apparent but with each successive lesson the true character of each "student" is revealed and the classmates turn against each other to varying degrees depending upon each one's internal moral compass or lack thereof...

this was not a black and white - good guy Jews versus bad guy Poles- approach.  the whole story had nuances and subtleties that made each of the classmates more or less humane.  Each of the performances was first rate although some roles were more extensive than others.  The most evil of all of the characters made your blood run cold as he manipulated his classmates and pushed them into acts so horrific that no justice could ever truly be accomplished. Other characters had varying degrees of complicity with the actions of murder, rape, torture and mass extermination of the entire population of the village where they had all begun their lives. And in the aftermath, the acts of each of those who survived the atrocities also covered the full spectrum from revenge to forgiveness - or if not forgiveness at least the willingness to put the past behind.
an excellent evening of thought provoking theater.

tonight we have a play at Steppenwolf called Russian Transport.  but more on that in a later post....

OK quick...

because I have been gone so long-

I got back from NYC and the Racine'sNY opening and closed up the condo for the summer- all kinds of last minute stuff to do - packed up the cats and the car and headed north on a two day drive.... I arrived late afternoon on Easter Sunday.  I spent the bulk of the first week home trying to get things cleaned up (how does and empty house get so dirty and messy) and working in the yard (which had been really hard hit by the awful winter of more than 80 inches of snow!) had an appointment to get a new awning for the deck and in the first week - caught up with two sets of friends for dinner as well as having over for dinner a new neighbor. I also worked diligently on travel plans for both France in May and Nova Scotia, et al in August... still am (France is done but I have run into a few snags on the Canadian Maritimes trip) - oh and I spent an afternoon at the DMV working on some changes in title for our cars and helping Phil get his license plates transferred to IL on his new car (aaaccckkk)

so now in my second week home - and the weather has been crap! cold and rainy. I have been wondering what possessed me to leave sunny Florida but the schedule that follows will soon show why- so here we are at the 12th day of my being home and here are some photos from the last week and a half-

the very end of April and this is what I am seeing in the yard- (the soundtrack would be gnashing of teeth)

but we had dinner last Thursday with Brian and Tina and finally got the name right on the place that Brian's bar Billy Sunday buys their bread... so when we had lunch this week with Dick we stopped by the bakery on the way back home for a couple of loaves of this fabulous REAL BREAD!

THIS is what bread should look like!

on the same night (10 days after my return) we went to see Chris and Nina and have our first goosefoot meal of 2014.... as usual it was spectacular!

the amuse-

the scallop course-

our wines for the evening- the white showed fabulously and the red was also very good!

the egg is now called turtle in a shell- LOL- and not quite as custardy as the prior iteration...

Chris always has excellent soups and this sunchoke soup was no exception!

the salmon was the only course pretty much unchanged since we were last here in October...

this new dish of rabbit was a real winner! Amazing!

the beef

a new "cheese" course with a beignet and "coffee" with blue cheese as the predominant flavor

the yuzu and beet intermezzo- palate cleanser-

the citrus dessert course followed by the chocolate dessert course - followed by the end sweet of a house made truffle! every one of them was beyond reproach!

the trade from the "stumps" of birch wood was a nice change and the truffle was fabulous and will soon be ready for sale in the store "next door" down that is really really close to opening - and which will sell the magnificent soups and the truffles (Chris studied as a pastry chef along the way) which are "to-die-for" good!

we headed home after midnight and got up the next day for the next events...two night of theater followed by a tribute concert to Joni Mitchell's Blue album at WFMT....stay tuned because the theater has at least one truly knock out experience...