Alexandra Lange | Essays

Why This blog?

Because in March my mother came for a visit and very kindly treated my husband and I to tickets to the theatre. We chose The Cherry Orchard at BAM, since it is nearby and she had never been. Directed by Sam Mendes, starring Simon Russell Beale, Ethan Hawke, etc. We decided to overlook the fact that it was also starring our most hated actress, Rebecca Hall, whose drony voice and awkward body language ruined the last BAM play we went to, As You Like It. But, ten minutes in, her Varya was just as dreary and puppet-like as her Rosalind, and I was whispering to Mark, never again. And that wasn’t the only thing wrong with the production: was it supposed to be naturalistic or stagy? Some actors, even some scenes, went one way and some another. The aristocrats were completely annoying, though I suspected I was supposed to sympathize with their plight, but Beale, as the sensible lower-class Lopahkin seemed stymied, stoppered. I couldn’t wait for the play to come to its inexorable conclusion. When it did, Mark and I couldn’t help but start in on it: the endless ending, the ridiculous neo-classical light effect, Hall’s inability to perform on stage (every statement seemed to be “Woe is me”). I’ve seen Chekhov before, but suddenly it seemed like every independent film, every new play was plotted like Chekhov, doom to those unable to change, so the unfurling of events was totally without drama. My mother was agreeing with us, in part, but she was also having an enjoyable evening out in Brooklyn. I kept catching myself, realizing that what we were really doing was rejecting a gift and rejecting it with all the critical powers and vocabulary at my disposal. I have had this feeling before, when some friend recommends a movie, a book that you hated. Usually I lie. Now I am starting a blog, because some opinions are too hot for casual conversation.

The other why is that we have a 21-month-old. Most evenings are spent at home, curled up in front of a warm Netflix. Sometimes it feels as if we really have seen everything worth seeing, albeit a bit late.


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