Trilogy: Presenting / Scott Hightower

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."

                             Shakespeare, Browning,

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.

Indentity Redux

(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.

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