Written by Stanley Greenberg Friday, 29 October 2010 00:00
I have never considered myself a reviewer. But if I like a play, movie or opera, I do love to tell people about it. Talking about a production usually winds up in a profound discussion of the major points, positive or negative. I do enjoy these back-and-forth, stimulating conversations.
Last week, we saw the play Time Stands Still for my birthday. It was a wonderful birthday present! The play was written by Donald Margulies and it starred one of my favorite actresses, Laura Linney. In my humble opinion, Laura Linney and Meryl Streep are the two best actresses today of the American stage and cinema.
Ms. Linney has appeared in The Savages with Philip Seymour Hoffman and with Liam Neeson in the movie Kinsey. She received Oscar nominations for both. She also starred as Abigail Adams in John Adams, for which she won a Golden Globe and an Emmy.
In this drama, she plays a wartime journalist who enters the stage with crutches and a knee brace, for wounds she received in combat in Afghanistan. She is only alive when in a battle zone on foreign soil. Her boyfriend tries to tame her into a marriage and conventional life, but she is unwilling. Only four actors were in the performance.
Other great performances were by Eric Bogosian, Christina Ricci and Brian D’Arcy James. Margulies’ other plays that I have seen were Brooklyn Boy and Dinner With Friends. He writes crackling, authentic dialogue and his characters are all true to life. He is a master.
Last Saturday at noon, the Brush Hollow Theater did a simulcast of Boris Godunov from the Metropolitan Opera. The theater was filled with gray-haired opera enthusiasts. The cinema was packed and I was lucky to get a seat.
The opera by Modest Mussorgsky is an actual historic part of Russian history. It takes place in the year 1598. The people of Russia are starving, and they yearn for Boris Godunov to become Tsar. At first he refuses, but he relents and the bells ring for his coronation.
There is doubt as to whether Boris is the rightful Tsar, as some claim that he has killed the true heir Dmitry, a young boy. A pretender to the throne arises named Grigory. Grigory escaped to Lithuania and when Boris learns of him, he is deeply shaken. He imagines he sees Dmitry’s ghost, and he prays for forgiveness.
The ruler with an evil secret reminded me of Macbeth. The cast of the opera were all Russians, except for Rene Pape, a German who has learned Russian. We saw the opera at the same time as the audience at the Met. However, the camera showed facial expressions to us that were not available to the crowd at the Met.
The conductor was Valery Gergiev and the cast was magnificent. The opera ends with the pretender replacing Boris as Tsar. It was a powerful, touching view of Russian history.
I promise my readers- no more reviews! They take too much out of me!