Monday Smiles – 8/12/2013
Saturday we made the drive to the L.A. Music Center to see a new play, A Parallelogram, at the Mark Taper Forum. Theater has been on of our favorite forms of entertainment for almost our entire marriage so it was appropriate as part of our forty-fifth anniversary weekend. When we moved to California, our first theater subscription was at the Ahmanson Theater, one of the three venues making up the Music Center (the other being the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of former Oscars fame). Over the years, the Ahmanson has features larger productions, musicals and plays starring well-known Hollywood faces, while The Taper, the smallest of the venues with a semi-circular stage and auditorium, is known for edgier works, sometimes starring faces you’ve seen but can’t quite place.
The drive downtown is always iffy on a Saturday. The fastest route when there is no traffic is the Santa Ana Freeway, but that is an if comparable to flying pigs. These days, two or three hours before the play, I enter the Music Center address into Myrtle and she tells me how long the drive will take. Myrtle? She’s my Tom-Tom GPS. Giving her a name makes it easier for me to yell at her when she suddenly announces, Traffic has changed. There is another route that is 1 minute faster. Would you like to take it? She did that a lot Saturday because traffic was a mess and she predicted a 30 minute traffic delay. I would guess we changed routes half a dozen times and ended up on six different freeways, at well as some surface streets in neighborhoods I’d just as soon have avoided. But we made it on time.
A Parallelogram is the latest work of Pulitzer and Tony Award winning playwright, Bruce Norris. Bee (Marin Ireland), the play’s main character, is being visited by a specter of her (much) older self, a visage that neither her older significant other,Jay, or her flirtatious gardener, JJ, (Carlo Alban) can see. The older Bee (Marylouise Burke), who turns up as Bee2, Bee 3, and Bee 4 in different scenes has a TV remote that can stop … or reverse … time and uses the pauses to talk to the audience about her cynical … but hysterical … view of life. Young Bee, depressive, brooding and idealistic, is horrified to see how she … and her life … turn out through the eyes of her older self. She interrupts one of Jay’s self indulgent soliloquies with the play’s central question: If you knew in advance exactly what was going to happen in your life, and how everything was going to turn out, and if you knew you couldn’t do anything to change it, would you still want to go on with your life? And indeed, old Bee gives her younger self a chance to try to change things by rerunning scenes over and over, an effect the director and actors bring off very convincingly. Though that might seem like a dark theme for an anniversary date, it was very funny and just the sort of thought-provoking comedy we love.
So, here we are on our 45.00273926th anniversary, starting another year. We had a lovely, easy weekend … well, except for the traffic. Today, I get to be fully retired … but tomorrow, it’s back to work. Life is good. It’s Monday, I’m smiling. So, would you? Live your life if you knew?