Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Chicago Wrap Up - The Show, The Sleepover, and The Brunch

The play itself was definitely not my favorite Lookingglass/Zimmerman production.  The script was weak - too wordy, too many needless monologues.  However, it had many moments that are exactly what I love about these productions - gold pieces of foil flitting down from the catwalks, a sparkling rainfall of "treasure;" a jungle created from no more than six wired plant leaves; the wonderful musicality of men drumming on the ship and singing a sea chanty; cannon balls made from rubber balls and bean bags; and the set!  Oh, the set!

The production was set with a thrust stage.  Upstage was a large, tattered sail that acted as the cyc with blue, white, and purple sky-like lights shining across it.  The stage itself was the deck of a ship, curved slightly upwards on both sides.  A ladder ran from the ship deck to a bridge projecting out from the house balcony.  The set didn't change while the setting shifted from inn to ship to island, but, like all of the productions here I like, simply asked the audience to pretend that they are somewhere else.  They say we are at an inn, and the planks become hardwood floors.  They say we are in the tropics, and the rope ladders swung from the deck to the catwalks become tree trunks and vines that the sailors scale as deftly as they did on the ship.  It's the same premise as Shakespeare's plays - trust in the words and in the imagination of the audience and you can create scenes just as powerful as the big-budget, grand scale Lloyd Weber-type shows.  "Think when we talk of horses, that you see them/Printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth;/For 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings," right?

But here was the best part of the set - when the crew finally set off to sea, they unhooked the ladder from the balcony and as a trio played on guitar, flute, and drum, the rest of the crew stood on either side of the ship and began to rock it back and forth.  The entire deck rocked, with the perfect wooden creaking coming from the beams underneath to match the visual of the voyage.

Lookingglass really excels at creating atmosphere, and here the play did not disappoint.  The pirates were so deliciously piratey; the set and lights so right for a nautical tale; and the music, both instrumental and acapella,  was so perfectly sound for the tale.*  I mostly know Treasure Island from the Muppet version, but so much of what we think of when we think pirates today comes from this Stevenson novel.  Thus the battle scenes with pirates shouting and swords swooping and guns shooting made me feel like I had dropped right into the source material for such a huge chapter in Western fantasy.

Sunday morning, which brought weather the antithesis of Saturday's, we walked towards and along the river a bit before meeting up with Vanessa and Stephen and their cute new baby Sierra for brunch at Sienna Tavern.  The food was quite tasty, especially the sweet dishes we share - monkey bread and bomboloni (Italian-style doughnuts served with bottle of raspberry, chocolate, and caramel sauce to inject right into the dough), and I always enjoy conversation with Vanessa and Stephen.

The weekend, as a whole, was really wonderful.  The company was marvelous.  I was a bit nervous about how the whole traveling-as-three thing would go.  I know I love Jason, and Justin certainly seemed nice from the bit of time I spent with him in June; but this was something new and, moreover, this was a prelude to a much more ambitious trip in December. 

To my delight, though, the best way I can describe the weekend is this - it was easy.  It was easy to talk, to plan the day, to share food and stories, and easy to sort out and avoid things that could have been awkward but really weren't because it was easy.  

We got not nearly as much sleep as we should have, even with the bonus daylight savings hour, but we did stay up until the wee hours taking quizzes, talking about clothes and hot celebrities, playing MASH, singing along to awesome songs, and doing all of slumber party things right.**

It was a delightful weekend, I reveled in feeling so incredibly happy (yay, antidepressants!), and I'm super-excited to spend more time with these fellows*** soon.

* I acknowledge my pun and I do not regret it!

**Although, being respectable adults in our 30s, the quiz was on the Five Love Languages, which lead to a fascinating discussion of our communication types and how they impact our work and our families; the discussion of clothes included planning what to wear to the opera next month; and the talk of hot celebrities was mostly cooing over how adorable Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka are with their kids and their Halloween costumes.

We really did play MASH, though, after Justin and I were scandalized to hear that Jason had never heard of the game.  You'll be happy to know that Joseph Fiennes and I will soon be living in a mansion in London and traveling by hot air balloon. 

As for my other results, the ones from the columns that were oh-so-scandalous when I played this when I was twelve, well, some things aren't meant to be shared outside of slumber parties at a Marriott in downtown Chicago.

The awesome music, btdubs, came from the soundtrack of Moulin Rouge.  Yes, we three sang along with Ewan while getting dressed Sunday morning.  Yet more proof of my excellent taste in friends.

*** I've also decided I should go by my middle name when I'm with them.  Jason, Justin, and Jane - am I right?

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