Monday, April 30, 2007

Dependency amidst estrangement is the trap

It was time for an influx of inspiration, so a troupe of OFDers went to down the road to the Golden Gate Theater last week for a healthy dose of culture. Nothing like theater to stir the soul, drawing as the best of it does on timeless myths and stories of humanity to give us bearings in modern times. It's no wonder that the impact lasts several days after the performance ends, as if needing time to work through the sub-conscious to be fully absorbed. In today's on-demand oriented society, it is a refreshing departure to so much entertainment and so many experiences whose influence lasts no longer than the moment they are being consumed.

The performance of Who's Afraid of Virginia Wood was generally excellent. It's a play that is as demanding as it is economical: it features only four characters who depict the entire story in a single setting: the living room of the house belonging to Martha - daughter of a College President - and George.

While there is a darkness to the play, this rendition was notably lighter than the film version (with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton) for all but the final act. Some lines were given comedic delivery and timing, and elicited their intended effect. It's a testament to the scale of the work that it has the breadth to accommodate such variations. While the overall darker and more brooding film verssion was preferred by this OFDer, it's unclear which approach is closer to Edward Albee's original intent.

The damning commentary of the play has to be how hopeless this estranged couple remain, locked in battle over differences and grudges that can never be forgotten nor forgiven yet lacking the courage to disrupt the vicious cycle or the strength to face their own vulnerabilities and flaws to make any progress on the road to self improvement. It is a wise cautionary tale for these times: sometimes the worse thing to do is to do nothing to change the circumstances: that the comfort of the familiar is a deadening, life diminishing road to perpetual unhappiness.

A triumph in depicting the darker side of relationship culture, a stiff drink is recommended after the show accompanied by a toast to relief - that one's own life is so unlike the tragedy of this play.

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