Tuesday, November 15, 2016

"The Year of Magical Thinking" @ Arena Stage in DC

Back in the Theater-mobile, Batman!--and back again to Arena Stage in DC. This time the draw was the Actor. Kathleen Turner who is starring in Joan Didion's "The Year of Magical Thinking"; a one-woman show of about 2 hours in length. I have shared with you about the particulars of the Arena Stage here in DC, one dynamic complex with three theaters inside. Today was my first production in the Arlene and Robert Kogod Theater. (The Kogods are local philanthropists who also have a theater named after them at the University of Maryland Clarice Smith Theater Complex, and the Signature Stage Theater Complex in Virginia.) The Kogod theater is the more intimate of the three. It's circular with walls lined in warped planks for a most captivating effect. It's called the cradle, but I honestly could not get out of my mind the image of a bird's nest--either is a pro pos given the space's dedication to producing new works and nurturing young playwrights.

When I entered and saw my seat relative to the stage, the first thing that I thought was "Holy Fucking Shit!"--what a perfect seat! Second row, center and looking straight on at the central focal point. This would prove nearly miraculous about 45 minutes into the play when Ms. Turner sat down on the middle chair and began delivering a set of lines about 12 in all that were the first dip in the play's flow into the pond of profundity. By her second line, she looked straight at me, and I met her gaze full frontal. I can tell you this with some certainty, because for some reason the seven seats in the row directly behind me were unattended--and any attempt to look at the row above that would have been obvious. With one brief glance beyond, she spoke the entire set as if we were the only two people in the room, and I want to think that she saw the glistening unborn tears welling up in my eyes and took a modicum of inspiration from them.

As to Turner, she is a force of nature. Her strength of character counts for much. Her performance was at times compelling, and at other moments adequate. Out of respect for her immense talent I won't knit pick, and out of respect I stood at the end with my fellow theater goers and extended my hands in unconditional applause. She responded with tremendous grace and an uncanny softness that belied the fact that she knew this was not her best performance.

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