At The Viewing Window
(The National Theatre of Scotland, 2012)
It has been four years since we watched Cumming
….ehr…. Dionysus hoisted upside down
from stage overhead; dangling in ankle cuffs
and his fiery gold lame kilt, no underwear.
Then we caught the nightclub act he toured
up at Feinstein's.
"When shall we three meet again… ?"
"A drum, a drum!" Tonight, "Macbeth" is circling
in a bound about Dionysus's stage.
A descending stairway, two beds, a tub for bathing,
a sink, a table, a chair: an inescapable cell.
The clinical observation window on the upstage
wall dimensionally matches the proscenium.
There is another small window that allows
others viewing from the other side of the door.
A mirror over the sink. Several air vents.
Three video screens are mounted across
the top of the proscenium arch. This psych ward
is of that cool clinical green. Antiseptic, flickering;
grungy tile from mop wear. The descant
is perhaps Scottish stones.
The conceit is narrow,
generous. With much artfully collapsed, the play's
contour remains intact. A man caught
in loops of immediacy and guilt. Damage,
self-torment, and lyrical madness make
their horrific, majestic revelation: "The patient
must minister to himself."
Yeats, Falkner, Cumming, dolls, man.
Hard to write about Cumming as Macbeth;
him wrestling with naked guilt in one
of the ward beds while another man appears
with him only in the green grainy video
screens (the blinking three sisters?), loiters
at Macbeth's bare feet extending toward him.
How later in the production, in another of the beds,
Cumming almost comically makes love to himself
as both wife and husband. Flickers in a tub
as in a murderous bed. "Desire is endless
and unappeasable and is never far from Despair."*
After The Ball
Many––familiar with folk songs
and popular music––titter with anticipation.
(I don't think anyone is expecting anything like
the 1913 scandal of "The Rite of Spring."
Though there was some dust-up
with the Metropolitan wanting
the opera in English.) The BAM seats
at twenty-five dollars apiece
were scarfed up and enthusiasts
have been waiting. I, for one,
am tired of writing elegies.
Wainwright gets criticized, routinely,
for his exhibitionisms: a foppish suit,
a dashing toreador hat, a rhinestone
pin. But when it comes to song,
he singswithout the slightest arrogance.
I've read the reviews in other countries:
"…baffling … Prima Donna is monotonous."
"Love is not a victory march. It's
a cold—and it's a broken--Hallelujah."
"The one that loves me truly…
is probably down at the stables….
gently polishing my cabriolet."
It's Paris, Bastille Day, 1970.
Régine is facing a new resolve.
The devoted, driving butler
is a foppish Baritone; the enticing
journalist, a tenor. The maid
is a resilient, perky soprano.
"Who is this woman?"
Régine to the journalist, upon him
serendipitously revealing his Japanese
girlfriend (Suzuki to Pinkerton?).
That the evening fireworks
are fleeting is part of their beauty.
To me, the opera seems more liturgical
than orgasmic. The public has already/
will or will not clamour.
From her window, Régine,
having just taken the fireworks in her gaze—
we have just watched them explode
en scene across her mansion's façade––
confronts the holy dark. She considers
leaping from her balcony; but chooses,
instead, to everyone's delight,
to deliver a "Wainwright" song.
(Paved Paradise, John Kelly, 2009)
The first television program put
into reruns was "The Lone Ranger."
-- Snapple bottle cap
A frame. Two keyboards, a bass,
a dulcimer, and five guitars
set the stage for "Dagmar Onassis."
Kiss. Kiss. What? does
it matter that the roses upstage
on the grand piano are red?
If you have have been asked
to wear the dream,
what difference does it matter
if the dress is white or blue
and if the shoes shine red? We park
the day's carousel
and heed whatever
falls out and captivates.
With ghosts––Damia? Hutch?
Jacques Brel? Judy
somewhere nearby—the evening
nears its end: John Kelly's guitars
and Joni Mitchell's plaintive
melodies about longing, sex,
our Frankenstein technologies,
Science's tunnel vision.
The wingless moon floats
beyond the encapsulating
spotlight, and each one
in the theater must find
each's own way home.
* Allen Wheelis