1st Night in Chicago

Blog, you realize, don’t you, that self is racking up the charges here, as connection to the internet is not free, not in this hotel anyway.  And yet, she ponied up.  All for the chance to write the slightest post about how she made it to Chicago, none the worse for wear, how the weather did not kill her (though it is cold, perhaps even freezing, but self doesn’t mind it as much as she thought it would).

What can she say about this city?  As the airplane taxied to the gate, self looked out the window and saw a landscape painted in different shades of gray.  A few minutes earlier, when they were high, high above the airport, she saw snow darting by the windows.  But after they dropped through the clouds and she found herself looking directly at the ground, she saw there was no snow:  only a kind of steady drizzle.

Now she is here, and self is so relieved because she likes this city.  It has a kind of open-ness, a kind of “edge.”  She caught a play:  Eugene O’Neill’s “Desire Under the Elms,” which was showing at the Goodman.  And she got to see that magnificent old lion, Brian Dennehy (If they ever re-cast  “Death of a Salesman,”  self thinks he would be perfect in the Lee J. Cobb role), and an amazing young actor named Pablo Schreiber (brother of Liev, it turns out.  Acting genes must really run in that family).  In spite of the play’s title, the set contained not one single elm, only tons of boulders.  The musical score was amazing, a cross between Laurie Anderson and Keith Urban.

Self has seen other productions of Eugene O’Neill:  Some years ago, she saw a production of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” at ACT, in San Francisco.  Lord, that was a bore!  If self remembers correctly, that production was four hours long and had two intermissions.  It nearly turned her off Eugene O’Neill for good.

This one was 100 minutes (with no intermission) of elemental theatre, pure Greek tragedy.  Self noticed that the programme included a credit for a “Vocal and Dialect Coach.”  When she first saw it, self was quite amazed:  isn’t this an American play?  By an American playwright?  Why then the need for a dialect coach?  But seconds into the play, she realized that she could barely understand what the actors were saying.  But she didn’t care.  The play then became a series of big lines delivered at full volume with mucho passion, with a lot of snarling and weeping.  Oh, how self loved the audacity of this!

This city apparently loves its theatre.  Wednesday night, and the theatre was packed.  How can one not love a city like that?  But, of course, self should have known:  for this is the city that gave birth to Steppenwolf.  Afterwards, the audience gave Pablo and Brian a standing ovation.

And now, self has to rest.  Tomorrow will bring further adventures.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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