Archive for November, 2012

Mini-review -Quimeras – Paco Peña at Sadler’s Wells

November 29, 2012

I cannot remember the last time a dance piece moved me to tears, yet there I was, a few minutes into the first dance section of Quimeras, and my eyes were beginning to flood. The shock? These were tears of joy. This simply never happens (well, not since Crazy for You). But the fusion of African drumming and dancing with the clattering heels, guitars and soul-wrenching singing of flamenco was breaking my soul with too much joy. I couldn’t help but think of a weak attempt to meld ballet, Bach and African drums I’d seen at Pacific Northwest Ballet (by Val Caniparoli) that clashed at itself and set me on edge. This, this swirling of skirts and joyous leaps, arms curving and then flying … They blended together to make something so much more amazing than its parts.

I waited for the initial joy to pass. These choreographed flamenco shows so typically are stale and static except for occasional solos; I expected to be bored and condescended to. But instead, the movement from one tableau to another flowed: a dreamer’s dream manifested as a woman in a glowing white mantón; the black clad Spaniards became everypolice hassling immigrants; it went on. I had another new experience: an interval I welcomed, not to escape, but because it meant there was more yet to come.

We returned to quieter moments as the fate of the dreaming poor and the spoiled first world played out to gorgeous guitar and crisp spins as the flamenqueros showed their stuff: I worried the African dancers would be marginalized. But no: we ended the night in awe of two groups of dancers united by blazing skill and fierce pride and a love of music and movement. I stood and clapped but wanted to dance and sing and see it all right away. Really, it was that good.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Wednesday, November 28th, 2012. It continues through December 1st.)

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Review – Constellations – Duke of York’s Theater

November 28, 2012

There are plays you dream of, and plays you wait for, and plays you give up hope of seeing ever again, as they swim into the depths of a pool of sold out shows and wasted time spent queueing for returns, nothing left but a closing date that flickers on your consciousness like the tail of a wily brown trout as it flies away from you, never to be seen again.

Plays, though, have occasional second lives, as very popular productions can be nearly immediately remounted in larger (and more remunerative) venues. I didn’t expect this to happen with Constellations, the Royal Court’s near mythic (amongst hardcore theater goers there are rarely so many tears) tale of love, loss, and physics: as an Upstairs show, it was at the fringes of public recognition – a new play by a newish playwright, a two-hander, even! It was hardly a crowd-pleaser like Jumpy much less a Cock (with its big name stars). So when, after weeks of trying to snag just a single ticket, I saw it had closed, I just closed down that little part of my heart that had been open to a night of amazing theater in an intimate environment. Constellations was the one that got away.

And then … It wasn’t. It was bundled with Jumpy and Posh as the Royal Court at the Duke of Yorks and suddenly they had a season and I had a second chance. But oh noes! It was in a BIG theater and oh noes! it wasn’t the sweet ticket prices that make the Royal Court a positive gift to us theater fanatic types. Yeah sure it wasn’t going to be the same, but hey, they were releasing 20 £10 seats a day, and wouldn’t it still be wonderful even in a barn? And at £10 and only 70 minutes, wouldn’t good be good enough?

The price may be too high (based on the 20% empty house – meant I could move myself into a less neck-craning spot than row AA), but I do believe the play is still very good. It’s a look at a relationship though the mirror of different concepts of time (helpfully explained by the woman to the man while they’re both drunk). Is there one universe with time happening linearly, or are there multiple universes all existing simultaneously where different things happen in each of them? Whether or not you buy the theory, it’s easy enough to understand the concept of, say, the 15 ways to people may or may not have met and become a couple at a barbeque. The universe where he was married and uptight? Not so much. The version where he is willing to try licking his elbow but is still married? You get to see some many junctions and conjunctions that it’s never clear what is supposed to be the “reality” of the show, but immensely fun to watch.

And then … And yet … It seems like, jumping back and forth in time (or perhaps across realities) that a narrative is happening, that amongst the multiplicities there is something important happening, and that the net effect is that actually, maybe we should care how the universe is shaped. It sound like it’s oh big scary too many hard ideas but it’s not, really, because in the end it’s all once upon a time, somewhere, there were some people that loved each other. And there are some balloons, and there are bees, and I’m afraid there were some tears, and maybe a few more balloons. And more tears. Two people alone in the universe. It could have/might/did happen. And I’m glad I was there for it.

Review – Between the Dark Earth and Light Sky – Almeida Theater

November 25, 2012

A new play about a poet and the language of poetry – a tempting thing , I tell you: a new play, a play with enough content to mine that it could hit greatness; and me invited along to a bloggers night, a night where I could sit with other hardcore theater fans and discuss and dissect to my heart’s content. Really, I couldn’t ask for much more (other than a slightly less chaotic day at work so I could properly enjoy a glass of wine beforehand).

As it turns about ,the premise was even better that I’d hoped: the play was set in rural England before World War I (a time that bred both great poets and excellent poetry) and also featured Robert Frost (Shaun Dooley) as a friend of Edward Thomas (Pip Carter), the poet around whom the play centered. Having Frost as a character was a real treat for me: while I considered him a banal writer, I liked seeing an American character featuring prominently in this play. It was not just a writer I was familiar with; it was a chance to see through the play my own experience in the world, as an American living in England, with all of the foreignness of viewpoint and experience.

As it turned out, this was one of my greatest joys in the play; my stranger’s eyes, spoken through someone else’s mouth, with the distance of a century making little difference to the similarities of national origin (perhaps the author holds the blame for this). I also revelled in the discussions of language and poetry, of what makes a meter ring, of dissonances and subtlety and what you need to leave behind. This caught my mind and tossed it like a bird into the air; I left finding myself, among other things, willing to reconsider my fleering attitude regarding Frost.

But Edward Thomas: well. As a character, he was written so as to be impossible to like or even feel respect for. He was self-indugent; moody; rude and disrespectful toward his wife; self-pitying; willing to utterly ignore the suffering of others. Points to Nick Dear for making him life-like if this was indeed how he was: I found him insufferable and found it hard not to shout at his wife to kick the bastard out and get on with trying to make something positive out of her life. Thank God we were told at the beginning that he died young; I found myself getting rather eager for it to happen as the play went on. While this play was, to me, a success for the thoughts it provoked and its depiction of rural English life before the war, I find it hard to believe it was entirely successful given that, now that it is over, it is Frost’s poetry I will go back and read.  Ah well: the American regional reps will no doubt embrace it eagerly.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Tuesday, November 20th, 2012. It continues through January 12th.)

Mini-review – Medea (the Mike Bartlett adaptation) – Headlong at Richmond Theater (then Northcott Theatre, Exeter)

November 22, 2012

I went last night to see a modernized adaptation of Medea at the Richmond Theater, and BOY IT ROCKED. I sat up in the cheapie cheapie seats for ten quid in the back of the 2nd circle but after about 10 minutes I didn’t care about the angle or the bits of the stage that were cut off, because the whole thing was TOTALLY AMAZING. Medea and Jason were English, she was living in some kind of maisonette in the suburbs, the chorus was her nosy neighbors, Jason was getting married to the landlord of their building (who was evicting Medea). She was a career woman who was just too clever to be well-liked. There was a song in which the entirely of David Bowie’s “Aladdin Sane” played while she basically had a breakdown in the kitchen and WOW WOW WOW.

It deserves a longer review, but you deserve to see it, so I’m posting this HEADS UP AWESOMENESS and maybe I’ll get in a longer review later. It’s only 90 minutes so you have NO EXCUSE.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Wednesday, November 21, 2012. It runs through Saturday, November 24th. Then it goes to the Northcott Theatre in Exeter and I HIGHLY ADVISE YOU SEE IT.)

Mini-review – Love’s Comedy – Orange Tree Theater

November 21, 2012

Once again (the second time this year!) an early work of Ibsen’s is making its extremely delayed debut in London. This time it’s Love’s Comedy (at the Orange Tree Theater), and I, with my Ibsen obsession, was drawn to it like a fly to a pitcher plant (and giddy about the prospect of falling in). I was also excited to see a new performance space: the black-box Orange Tree theater, which has been producing shows for ages but which sits outside of my normal circle despite being much easier to get home from than, say, the Arcola. And it was lovely inside, with the room decked out to represent the garden, patio, and external entrances to a Norwegian country home, complete with pear blossoms, adorable carved balcony railings, and a starry night sky in the distance. It all looked so inviting that I was ready to plop myself in one of the café chairs and pick up a basket of embroidery, but restrained myself and took a cushioned seat on the perimeter instead.

Written nearly a decade after St John’s Night, Love’s Comedy deals with some of the same themes; young lovers, town versus country, the changes in Norwegian values, who is right for whom. It even has a very similar main character, with the dreaming, iconoclastic poet Birk reimagined as the trouble-stirring (and yet still entirely just as egotistical) Falk (Mark Arends). But with ten year’s time, Ibsen seems to have lost his patience with Falk, who seems, in his vision for his lover Swanhild (Sarah Winter), to be eager to put her in a box that limits her own existence as an individual despite claiming to love freedom himself. He is every bit limited by his own provincial notions of women’s capabilities, and I wanted to whisper to her to run away from him before she wrecked her life.

Interestingly, Falk, as he tried to seduce Swanhild into taking up a life that would most flatter his self-importance, seemed to me an incarnation of a character from Ibsen’s final play: the sculptor from When We Dead Awaken. I wondered if Falk recognized that ultimately he would break Swanhild and leave her to seek her revenge from him decades later …

or if, as a comedy, there might be a more conventional and Victorian appropriate ending, which, in fact, there was. I dearly enjoyed seeing what seemed to be nearly familiar people on stage reliving parts of their lives I’d had questions about, but I’m afraid it did all get a bit tedious. The in-plot poetry was bad; the spoken verse was kind of clunky when it made it into the dialogue; and there was just a bit too much philosophizing about the different stages of love to really keep my interest. Mind you, it was almost all worth it to hear someone say, “Goodnight sweet chintz” to a set of ruined curtains; but not enough – unless you are an Ibsen completist. And for me, the excellent acting softened the failings of the script; and my own raging imagination took over (asking questions about where people were going with their lives) when was was being said failed to keep my attention. It was a good production of a very weak play, and I’m glad I got to see it done well.

(This review is for a play that took place on Friday, November 16th, 2012. It continues through December 15th.)

Review – A Winter’s Tale (musical version) – Landor Theatre

November 20, 2012

It really has been an extraordinary year for Shakespeare for me – not just two Henry Vs but two visits to my least favorite of all Shakespearean plays, A Winter’s Tale. Sure, Propeller could motivate me to get off my duff the first time, but what in the world would lead me to go a SECOND time, in the same year, to see it again, when I had been freshly reminded of all of the things there were to dislike about it (a completely unsympathetic male lead, a ridiculous alteration in his mental state, an ending even Disney wouldn’t dream of)? In this case, it was the promise of getting to see a new musical, and a genuine curiosity about what would be done with this flawed play as an adaptation. Would its faults be sanded away, like a bad novel in the hand of an incredible movie director? Would it turn out to be an amazing musical with a slightly strange plot? Might I be witness to the birth of musical theater history, a la Kiss Me Kate? With a complimentary reviewers ticket and a complete openness to magic happening, I walked into press night at the Landor and grabbed myself a front row seat.

Things that worked well about this production: the voices (Pete Gallagher as Leontes was entrancing; Abigail Matthews shone as Perdita); the costumes (sort of late 19th century but with an imaginative flair); the ensemble numbers that made good use of the Landor’s limited stage. There were some liberties taken with the text that didn’t seem to ruin the essential story (though I question why Hermione was renamed Ekaterina?), and certain changes even added to it (the reduction of jealous tension during the sheep shearing festival certainly allowed more comedy).

Despite its strengths, though, despite the fact the story flowed and the characters felt solid, I felt that this production was not what I hoped for as a musical. The songs were uniformly unmemorable if occasionally clever lyrically; it wasn’t ponderous or experimental but neither was it catchy or hummable. I enjoyed the singing and the music, but when it was over I couldn’t remember them. And by taking all of the Shakespeare out and just keeping the plot, the creators missed a big trick, of taking the words of the best poet ever in English and setting them to music, or even using them not set to music, as dialogue. Admittedly, Cole Porter didn’t need any help, and Shakespeare himself was doing adaptations from Holinshed’s Chronicles; but a musical of a play of Shakespeare’s should, I think, have some Shakespeare in it somewhere. This had none, and was, I think, poorer for it; left to its own devices, it was merely a musical version of a play I don’t like very much. Perhaps it will be attempted again with a greater talent, and then the complete casting-off of Shakespeare will be forgiven; but West Side Story was a long time ago and this was not its successor.

(This review is for the opening night performance on Monday, November 12th, 2012. It continues through December 1st.)

Review – Victor/Victoria – Southwark Playhouse

November 18, 2012

I have a shameful secret to admit to you, reader. First, I have two other reviews I should write before this one (if I were doing them in chronological order) but I’m doing this one first so you can be sure to rush off and buy yourself a ticket quicklike. Second – the worst – I held off writing this review until I could buy myself a ticket to go back. See, I didn’t want to tell TOO many people how good it was, because I was afraid tickets would sell out before I got mine bought. So I held off an extra two days writing this while I waited to get confirmation on a date from some friends and secure said tickets (closing night, not the cabaret seats as they STILL sold out, but still, they are bought). And only NOW am I going to tell you: Victor/Victoria blew me out of my wobbly little schoolroom chair at the Southwark Playhouse, and if you are a fan of musicals, gay culture, sexy chorines, tap dancing, or an ASS KICKING GOOD SHOW, you had better jump on over to their website and get some tickets stat.

I haven’t actually spent that much time analyzing this show and more time reveling in its meaty (and airy) pleasures. The music, I think, is not perfect: I left with no earworm and this to me is a bit of a failing. But the songs were generally very good, they moved the story forward, and they accompanied wonderful dance numbers.

And, my, the SHOW pieces, the “Victor/ia in her glory” pieces, the decadent 30’s cabaret pieces that fit so beautifully in the crumbling brick arches of the Southwark Playhouse vaults, I was transported back into a slightly imaginary Paris that had more rhinestones than I might have expected and all, all of the unrequited love and smooching boys and smart-aleckery, wit, and zing I could have ever hoped for in any musical performance or place. The imaginary made the real become better and was transported. We WERE in a Paris drag night club and those were REAL dancers doing backflips and if the world was falling apart around us, well, one night of joy was what we all deserved before going back out in the cold.

Anna Francolini as Victoria: gorgeous voice, heartbreakingly torn, a smash. Richard Dempsey: talented in this as much as Shakespeare, a whiz of a flirt, and a showstopper in a sequined dress. Good god. Did you read this far and you haven’t bought tickets yet? Get on it before they’re all gone! (And look for me in the front row on closing night – I’ll be the one in the black diamante evening dress with the Sally Bowles smile.)

(This review is for a performance that took place on Tuesday, November 13th, 2012. The show continues through December 15th.)

Review – Steel Pier – Union Theater

November 14, 2012

This has really been a great year for Kander and Ebb for me. Not only did I get back to see Chicago, but I managed to see THREE shows by them that haven’t been revived in ages – Flora the Red Menace (originally done in 1965), Curtains (the next to last of their shows, from 2006), and, now, Steel Pier (1997). All of these shows were new for me, and I took the same approach for all of them, of not reading up on them beforehand so I could have the maximum experience.

Steel Pier has a fun premise – a bunch of people are gathered together at a dance marathon in the 1930s, trying to make a little money when there was not a lot to go around. Some of the people have been to a few of these things and know each other; first among these is Rita Racine (Sarah Galbraith), who has a career singing at small carnivals. She winds up dancing with a stunt pilot (Bill Kelly – Jay Rincon) who’s also shown up partnerless; but, as it turns out, she is actually a woman trying to escape her partner, and the shiftless life she’s been leading. Will this dance be her final turn on the stage? Who is the stunt pilot, really? And why do both he and the MC (Mick Hamilton – Ian Knauer) seem so creepy?

It’s fun seeing these shows in the context of the wide body of Kander & Ebb’s work: the strong women characters and dissonant melodies that are present at the very beginning in Flora; the dark look at life and unflattering portrayal of showbiz that runs straight through Cabaret to Curtains. Steel Pier has a lot of the markers of a K&E work. The dancers aren’t the aspirational kids of a 40s musical; most of them are pros who are on the circuit, out to make a buck, and not above using tricks if endurance is not enough. But the whole thing is a gimmick, anyway, just a way for the MC to make himself some money, attract bigger sponsors through trumped up events, and promote his own favorite on his way to even higher realms of celebrity. In some ways, it’s reality TV 1935, but played out on the radio. Ah, delicious cynicism: I love you so!

As performed, Steel Pier is a showpiece for two side characters: the sociopathic, manipulative MC Mick (with his great “power” duet “A Powerful Thing,” performed with his dupe minion); and Shelby Stevens (Aimie Atkinson) the hoofer with a heart of gold who steals the show with the quite crass “Everybody’s Girl,” providing both the pipes and pins to make this number blaze.

Sadly, I was uncompelled by the rest of the drama: neither the sideshows of the various couples failing to make it to the end; or, more critically, the “romance” between Rita and the pilot. Neither she nor he ever really clicked for me as actors or characters. Both seemed wooden and unbelievable; and while stiffness seemed appropriate to the MC, I needed to feel Rita being torn and betrayed. But I never bought it any more than I bought the pilot with his pasted on grin. He just wasn’t real enough for me to believe he was desperately in love with anybody – he seemed to be sleepwalking through it all, albeit while smiling all the way.

Fortunately, there were lots of great songs and fabulous dancing – no shortage of dancing! – to get us from point A to point B, and while I wasn’t sold by the story, I was definitely wowed by the production. In the intimate confines of the Union, to have this many people singing and high kicking was positively electric, so much so that I feel that complaining about the leads seems almost churlish. And there was certainly magic at times, like during the dream/hallucination sequence “Leave the World Behind.” This show is not perfect, but it’s still a good night out and an excellent value, and I recommend it to musicals fans as well as K&E aficionados.

(This review is for a performance seen on Friday, November 9th, 2012. It continues through November 24th.)

Review – The Effect – Cottlesloe Theatre, The National Theatre

November 8, 2012

It seems presumptuous, somehow, to write a review of a play so quickly that the salt of your tears is still crackling on your face. But I wanted to get my thoughts on Lucy Prebble’s new show down while the ache is still fresh. I saw it on a day when I was extraordinarily susceptible to the emotions of love and abandonment; it took the raw emotions I provided, stuck its fist in my psyche, and pulled out my guts.

What is love, really; what is depression: what makes any of us think we are happy? Is it just really chemicals? Does life, does the way we treat each other have anything to do with it? Are we safe to say,”I’m not responsible, you own your own feelings,” or do we say,”This is all just chemicals nothing is real” so we can discount our hearts breaking inside us?

These questions come up in the context of a clinical trial involving two college kids who may or may not be getting placebos …or real drugs possibly simulating love. Or is what they’re feeling real? As they laugh and tell each other the stupid stories that make up the banal reality of whom each of us is, you, the audience member, can’t tell which is real and which is fake anymore. It’s really love. It’s just a placebo. But the emotions are strong, ridiculous, authentic, like every crush you’ve ever had, like every boy who was just too perfect and left you.

And what are we all in the end but sad depressed people trying to medicate ourselves through the harsh winter of reality. Are we lying to ourselves and just pathetic? Is it preferable take drugs to protect ourselves from the psychological damage of being honest about our ability to affect outcomes? Is it even reasonable to hope that maybe, somewhere, there is one human enough that can love us, horribly flawed though we are?

As the show ended I cried openly, trying to restrain myself from sobbing, hoping the actors could see me trying to clap through it all. I love plays that explore what it means to be in the now, in a world of cell phones and drug trials and tap dancing in mental asylums; but even more I love a play that explores what it means to be human, and to live and love and try to be ethical in the crazy world of conflicting emotions and priorities that is life with other people .

(This review is for a preview seen on Thursday, November 7th or so. It was awesome. Book now.)

Art review – Robert Wilson, Portraits – Palazzo Madama, Turin

November 8, 2012

While this blog is mostly about my theater visits, I mix in some ballet and opera, but I have other interests. I’ve had a few gardening posts: today I’m going to write about art. The inspiration: a trip to the Palazzo Madama in Turin, where I discovered an exhibit by Robert Wilson tucked amidst the Medieval sculpture and Baroque gew gaws. This makes 2012 the Year of Bob for me, since I’ve been to both his Walking exhibit and seen Einstein on the Beach.

Now, Bob wasn’t what drew me to the Palazzo: frankly, it’s a bit hard to ignore, what with it sitting smack dab in a huge open space in the middle of the historic center of Turin. And it’s a fascinating hodge podge, all medieval-looking from the back, but with a frothy white front that matches the rest of the public facing buildings. The mixed history of this building is what drew me to it, as I am frequently turned off by Baroque architecture – sometimes I can get lost in all of the curly wurly hurly burly, but more frequently I just find it all as indigestible as an all-icing cake. I saw it and went, “Hey, now that is cool looking building, nice and ancient looking in back, yet curiously modernized! What in the world is going on here?”

As it turns out, the building not only has its own fascinating history (I’ll let you read up on it on your own, it goes back to Roman times) but is an icon of Turin’s glory days. Inside it is housed a museum of art as well as the semi-preserved apartments of “Madames” Christine Marie and Marie Jeanne (which I was much less interested in than the art). I had actually planned on blowing through the upstairs altogether (baroque furnishings, bleh), but downstairs, amidst all of the fantastic gothicky wooden carvings and lovely paintings of the saints, there were all sorts of little reminders that there was an exhibit of portraiture upstairs which was in some way responding to the art in the (very old feeling) basement.

Let me talk a little bit about the art in the basement. The first room was a painted altarpiece, a ceiling moved from a demolished building, and the most amazing choir stalls, carved with the freakish creatures (mermen, chimera, something that was mostly a head) that bubbled out of the imagination of a team of 16th century French sculptors. The amount of detail was amazing – even some of the seat backs had little scenes in them. I had a hard time leaving the room.

The next room, the largest in the basement, was divided into several areas, each filled almost to bursting with excellent examples of medieval and renaissance art. The most celebrated painting was Portrait of a Man by Antonello da Messina; but I was entranced by the many lovely things, including a bone casket with Limoges medallions, a sculpted “life of Mary Magdalene” where every personage was grinning like a loon, and a fascinating Renaissance allegory painting (called, I believe, “The Game”) in which Venus appeared to be playing chess with Mars. I could barely leave.

When I finally ascended the stairs (after a long visit with a coffin featuring the adventures of Perseus carved in alabaster), I made it into a room that was white to the point of glowing, with sculptures of pairs of women curled on a ledge under the ceiling. They seemed wise and a bit amused, and while they were, apparently, representations of the various provinces of Savoy (if I recall correctly), I read them as an older woman’s assertion of confidence and sense of self. These statues were lit, in turn, by the glow from the numerous video screens in the room, which were somewhat muted by an unusual arrangement: in the center of the (white) room, there was a roofless box (of white), pierced by four entryways, each gap partially blocked by a (white) panel. On exploration, the panels held video screens that faced toward the cube; they were best seen by entering the cube itself, which was covered by numerous glowing panels with polka-dotted backgrounds and a snowy owl. The effect was, looking up, COLOR COLOR OWL CHAOS smiling female statue. Fascinating! Each of the panels had a video screen of a different animal, chosen (seemingly) for their own color (or lack thereof): a black panther; a pile of skunks; a porcupine; a clearly manipulated (so as to be rainbow colored) frog. The effect of the mostly black and white palate made the occasional motion of the animals even more heightened – and with the women looking over us, it felt like somehow we were having a joke played on us. It was, to be sure, playful, and gorgeous, and very fun.

The next room I went in was full of the kind of gewgaws and trinkets that, while the height of baroque artisanship, are so overwrought that, when clustered together, I tend to tune them out. Cabinets with beautiful inlaid marquetry/stonework; statues; silver salt cellars; ridiculous clocks. I would have normally blown by them, but now they fought against the slightly moving and equally vibrant modern video portraits scattered among them. The effect was to make the regular collections more digestible, to convince me to spend a bit more time with them just as I was needing to spend more time looking at the Wilson pieces to see them evolve through their storylines (each of them had a bit of motion in them).

The next two rooms were large and mostly empty, and the pixelated pictures stood as equals (yet leaning towards having more energy what with occasional music) amongst other portraits. The rooms led to a pretty circular room covered with tiny portraits, vying with a large picture of Brad Pitt being rained on (which seemed to attract rather a lot of attention, what with his being in his boxer shorts). I got the feeling that I was in Hogwarts, with the old portraits on the walls all but talking to me. It was very striking, the effect being of the world of art gone by standing up to greet its newest incarnation. Delightfully, from this corner (where I spent rather a while, waiting to see just what he was going to do with his gun) I was able to sneak down a hall to a lovely, naturally-lit room and enjoy a lovely hot chocolate. All pleasures were being catered to at the Palazzo Madama!

While there was even more palace and even more art to be seen, I’ll end my review here. I was impressed at the way the portraits – which in a different environment I might have considered banal, celebrity-focused, unnecessarily obsessed with technology, and forgettable – actually engaged strikingly with their environment in a way that enhanced both the form and contents of the Palazzo and Robert Wilson’s otherwise gimmicky product. They added light, sound, and motion to a dusty static world, and the effect was positive for both of them. I’m really pleased I had a chance to see this installation, and I have to applaud the forward thinking museum directors who made this exhibit happen.

(This review is for an exhibit I saw on Sunday, October 28th, 2012. It continues through January 6th, 2012.)