Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Mary Rose: a Ghost Story

A week ago Saturday My Honey and I went to see a preview performance of Mary Rose at the Vineyard Theatre in New York. The play was written by J.M. Barrie (well known for Peter Pan) in 1920. It is a haunting tale of a woman who disappears, and the impact it has on her family. The play is wonderfully staged with a Narrator embedded in the action, adding to the surreal quality of what happens. I read somewhere (maybe the playbill?) that J.M. Barrie’s plays have so much written into them you really need a Narrator to capture some of that color in the staging. I interpret that to mean it would be a fascinating read.


I am going to expand on the story a bit, which may spoil it for those who plan to read it or see it. If you want to avoid that - skip this section. The play shows the reaction of some ordinary people who have to deal with an extraordinary situation. Mary Rose’s parent dealt with her disappearance of 20 days by sharing it with her prospective husband years later when he asks for her hand. They then have to deal with her second disappearance. She leaves behind a young child and distraught husband. Her parents deal with it by living in the here and now, the everyday. Her husband throws himself into his work. The boy runs off when he is about 12. You never really know what happened, what undercurrents of unspoken angst cause the boy to run off. You learn he has joined the army.

When Mary Rose reappears again 25 years later, she hasn’t aged at all. Mary Rose doesn’t understand what happened or why everyone else has aged. She is looking for her child. Eventually they all pass on, and Mary Rose becomes a ghost still looking for he child, however she has long forgotten what she is looking for.

I think the ending is rather nice. The soldier, Mary Rose’s grown up son, has come to the house where his mother lives/haunts, and tries to find out what happened to her. He shows obvious compassion for the ghost/mother who has no idea who he is. There is a message here. There are many messages here. What I like about the writing is that, even someone like me, who can never read between the lines, is able to get some of it. It isn’t farcical or blatant, but still obvious enough at some level. It isn’t just a mystery, but a study in human nature.

End of Spoiler

My Honey and I went into NYC early to hit a few tea shops in preparation for our tea party (see previous post). We didn’t have as much luck finding cool stuff as we usually do, but the play certainly made up for that. The theatre is “off Broadway” and located downtown in the bottom of a building. The stairs are somewhat steep, and the theatre was drafty. One poor woman almost fell down the stairs when her foot got stuck in her coat hem. As I was on the stairs right in front of her, I got a shot of adrenaline with the fear. Can I catch her? Will she go over the railing? Luckily she was able to catch herself on the railing, and I just gave her a hand getting untangled. Whew!

Back to the show. We loved it. We were sitting in the front row, and felt very close to the action. A real theatre experience. The story has definitely been echoed in later works – I am thinking of Picnic at Hanging Rock (in my opinion one of the scariest movies ever made), and my Honey was thinking he saw echoes of several Hitchcock films. A bonus for my Honey – the Narrator was played by Keir Dullea, who played the main character “David Bowman” in 2001: A Space Odyssey. We hung around after the show, and Mr. Dullea was nice enough to autograph the copy of the DVD we brought along.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Afternoon Tea Party

Sunday my Honey and I had a little tea party at our house. In preparation, we dug our tea ball collection out from the drawer, bought a little wooden display case, and hung our collection on the kitchen wall. This was quite a project in itself, but we both have been admiring the result everyday since we hung it.

I made maple scones and lemon blueberry scones. I made little tea sandwiches with the crusts cut off. My Honey made a lovely chocolate macadamia nut cake. We set out our fanciest afternoon tea accessories, including a deep blue table cloth with a lemon design. We found this French tablecloth in New Orleans about 5 or 6 years ago. We love to find stuff when we travel and then use it for entertaining. We had my parents, and some friends from work. We invited the neighbors, but they were sick with colds and couldn’t make it. Ah well, maybe next time. More chocolate dipped strawberries for the rest of us!

It was really great fun. We made pots of tea, and good conversation. One of the couples is from England and Scotland, so we grilled them on tea customs, and such. They brough a lovely homemade dessert called Pavlova. Delicious. I think it must be very popular in England, although the sources on the web I found indicated it orignated in Australia.

I thoroughly enjoyed the party. I think our guests did as well (at least they said they did)! It was a nice way to add a little color to displace the grey mid winter feeling we get each year. We have already started planning for a mid winter party next year. I thought an “Open Mike Night” at the house would be a fun idea, so if you are hoping for an invitation – you had better start polishing your act!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Making My Blog a Diary

Well, I originally wanted to have a book blog, but I don't read fast enough, nor do I tend to read anything particularly intellectual. Not that the books have to be intellectual for one to talk about them. It just ain't enough for me to make a blog out of. So I have decided to try making this blog more of a diary - you know, talking about the day to day stuff. I think it might suit me a bit better. Just mentioning the trivial stuff that makes life life, each day some good, some bad, some shallow thoughts, some deep thoughts. My Honey and I do a lot of very cool and interesting things so I have plenty to talk about. As you will find out. If this blog thing works for me. It might become more of a record for me, but what the heck - I don't have any readers yet anyway...

Yesterday was Valentines Day. I think the holiday is a big scam foisted off on the public by the media and by retail establishments. Actually, you may find out in the days and weeks and months ahead I think a lot of things are scams! Anyway, back to Valentine's Day. Guilt if you ignore it. Stress if you forget about it. Fun if you remember it in advance enough and plan accordingly. Nothing serious about it.

We had a wintery mix of sleet, freezing rain and snow in my area. Bad for the restaurants who were counting on some Valentine's Day diners. I heard today that in NYC only about 50% of the people showed up for their reservations. Haven't verified that figure. Anyway my Honey and I exchanged lovely romantic cards. I gave him a cool USB hub thingy that looks like the nuclear launch code button in the beginning of the movie War Games, and a set of "Key Shaped" knife spreaders for entertaining. He gave me a set of Valentine's Day salt and pepper shakers that are red and white man and woman hugging. We collect salt and pepper shakers. I guess I should post a picture of them. (I'll add that later). Also he gave me a Rubbermaid deviled egg storage container. This is the greatest invention since Devilled eggs themselves! I don't know why I didn't think they invented something like this. Makes it a heck of a lot easier to store the finished eggs in the fridge, and to transport them to a party. I am a big fan of deviled eggs.

I am trying to finish reading Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. I have been very absorbed in it on the train (commuting to and from work), but haven't really been getting into it at home. The book is very strange. It annoyed me at first, but now I see how cool it really is. The structure is so complex, but it really works. The novel is built on a series of connected short story-fantasy versions of some imagined family history related to a Jewish town destroyed in WWII. The stories seem to me to be a spiritual interpretation of reality similar to something you might read in some Yiddish stories or perhaps something by the Bal Shem Tov. Or maybe not quite that lofty. I have only read that kind of thing in English translation so I could be way off on this. I am not a scholar of this kind of writing or story telling. The counterpoint is provided as a series of letters from a Ukrainian teenager who acted as a tour guide to the American writer who went to the Ukraine to try and find some of his family history. Comic relief is provided by the English words used in error by the teenager, as he practices his English. The story he writes is a story of the "tour" and the story of his family.

I know the book was made into a movie, so after I finish it I will watch the movie and see how it compares. I can't imagine how this book could have been captured in a movie.

More later...