Monday, February 25, 2008

Weekend Round-up

Friday night we headed out with friends to celebrate a birthday and a new job (yay, Maryann!) at Koto Japanese Steak House. They have a great koi pond and the decor is simple and restrained. Everyone seemed eager for hibachi, but I was looking forward to sushi -- it's been ages since I had any. Our chef put on the usual show, which might be the same in every J-steak house across the country, but an energetic chef can make it fun. The food was fresh and tasty. Afterward we headed over to Dee's to hang out and chat. Gene was in rare form, leading Allan to ask, "Have you ever done stand-up?" Hee hee -- he should.

Yesterday, we were off to Saratoga to meet Crispinus and his long suffering uxor, Krista, for the Home Made Theater presentation of Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound and the Fifteen Minute Hamlet. Having looked at the company's website and having been to the Saratoga Spa State Park, I thought it would be a breeze getting there. It turned out to be clear as mud (I thought it was part of the performance center...nope).

Once we finally found ourselves in the right place, the next challenge was finding a place to park. Making a run for the theater, we found that the line was so long for picking up tickets that there was no way the play could start on time anyway. Dan and Krista joined us on line as we snaked our way slowly to the box office. There was a big group of Red Hats in the audience, all chatting excitedly. We were down in the second or third row, so right on top of the action.

The oddest thing was realizing that Stoppard's playful meta-narratives have become mainstream. I suppose it will always be the case with what was once innovative and strange. The cast seemed to be having a good time; they have a difficult challenge in Hound playing melodramatic "types" and repeating scenes with new partners. I was distracted at times by the coincidental similarities some actors had to other actors: Chris Cook looking just a little like Eddie Izzard, Phil Sheehan looking a bit like Spike Milligan (especially during Hamlet) and Winnie Bowen looking rather like Jane Curtain disguised as an elderly woman. Bowen had a good sense of comic timing -- she had to carry a lot of the physical comedy, although I have to say I really admired the way Lauren Cognato went all out for the prat fall with her Ophelia in Hamlet. You can't go far wrong with Stoppard.

After the show we headed over to the Crispinus domicile for a fantastic meal (mmmm, orangey-beefy stew and tasty antipasto) and the usual abuse of Crispinus (a game for the whole family). Thanks guys, that was great! We came home and watched the Oscars while I finished some grading. Best speech? Tilda Swinton's!

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