Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bach at Leipzig

I went last night to Shakespeare Santa Cruz, our annual summer play festival up in the redwood groves on the UCSC campus. (And if you think that sounds like an unreal experience, well, yes, it is.) Itzmar Moses recent play was held in the indoor theatre, which is just as well, as this more intimate setting is necessary for the total concentration it requires.

Now this may be a spoiler folks, but Bach is not actually a character in the play. He, or rather his music, is the atmosphere of the play. Among the many interesting things the play attempts to do, is to help the audience understand what a fugue is. In my opinion, it succeeds brilliantly.

Six--or is it seven?--musicians are hoping to acquire the post of organist of the Thomaskirche in Leipzig. That is probably all you need to know about the basic plot structure of the play. Everything else is elaboration.

It has had a great success here in Santa Cruz, deservedly so. This is the second play this year I have seen with an ensemble male cast, the other being the equally enjoyable The Seafarers and against my feminist instincts, I find this five or six person male ensemble idea a sound structure. It is not that there are no women in this world--but they are all addressed, mostly in fear and trembling, in absentia.

I think you could read this play and enjoy it. But it is a little like reading a score of music, and much more so in this instance than in the reading of other scripts. Reading can only take you so far--you have no idea of it's effect until you see it performed.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

As Time Goes By

Well, it's been awhile. I am trying to keep this blog really focussed on things I feel that extra attachment to so I suppose it's bound to be more limited. Perhaps it will be surprising that this post mentions a television series. But I watched it again tonight and thought, no, it's right up there in the "things I love" category.

Although I do occasionally get addicted to unlikely TV series, I don't think there are really many apologies to be made for loving this one--not with Dame Judi Dench aboard. The premise of this one, for anyone who may have missed the frequent reruns on your local PBS affiliate, is that a man returning from life in Africa is reacquainted with a woman who runs a secretarial agency, and soon discovers that she is the same person he fell in love with when he was a young officer during WWII and she was a young nurse. Although there is a bittersweet note of lost chances running through this, it is essentially a comedy, and played by two actors with very great comic gifts, it inevitably leans in this direction.

I have tried to think what makes this rate a post here. I have mentioned it to friends who I thought would like it--they haven't. But I suspect they haven't seen it in the same light I have. People find each other again, certain misconceptions are patched up, love is rekindled, and there are a host of charming or eccentric secondary characters. The acting level is very high, the writing is up to the highest mark, and the timing is superb.

But all this is really secondary. What I really fall for is the reality of this little world of Jean and Lionel, and her daughter Judy, employee Sandy, publisher Alistair and so on and so on. It is convincing and complete, and a life that I would be happy to be invited into. It isn't everyone who gets a second chance at love in their senior years, but it is so nice to think of this household in their very comfortable London home, and wish that life for everyone had such a happy ending.