Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The impact of random kindness

A random act of kindness really made my evening. I had a ticket to see a Shotz-like group of short plays inspired by famous paintings such as Monet's "Water Lilies" and Vermeer's "Girl with the Pearl Earring." The performance was the inaugural series called "Articulating the Arts: A Thousand Words," by a new group called the Articulate Theatre Company. That name just made me think of the Firefly episode "Our Mrs. Reynolds" when Mal is being defensive about kissing Saffron and getting knocked out by her drugged lipstick ("But she was naked! and...articulate!!")

Anyway, work was busier than usual, with meetings at 4 pm and 5 pm, so I was pressed to leave on time to get straight to the theater by 8 pm, which was near Penn Station anyway. I had to catch the 6:15 train to get into Manhattan by 7:30; otherwise, I would have to take the 6:42 express which might have gotten me there, but only just. I was working right up to the time my shuttle was scheduled to leave for the train station, but when I came out, it was gone - they had left without me.

As I was walking in the parking lot, one of my co-workers named Donna, who I know by sight but had never spoken to, was backing out her car and asked if I needed a ride to the station. I gratefully accepted and we got there just as the train was pulling up so I had to run for it and I made it on board with about 30 seconds to spare.

It was fortunate that I got there early because the show was oversold and I was meeting Andrea (from "Galentine's Day party" - February 16, 2014), Joan and Bruce there, and it turned out I was the first to arrive, so I saved four seats in the front row so we could all sit together. I said hi to Liz (who is co-stage managing the production as a volunteer), had a glass of complimentary champagne and we snacked on finger sandwiches, mini spinach empanadas and mini quiches. At curtain time, the place was chaotic with trying to fit in extra seats and get everybody seated - so much so that the play started 10 minutes late. So I was happy to sidestep all that nonsense, thanks to Donna's act of kindness.

The plays were a mixed bag. Some were inventive, some lacked chemistry. Liz's friend Margueritte (one of the Fishkill apple-picking gang) played a barmaid picking up a handsome artist in a play inspired by Edouard Manet's "A Bar at Folies-Bergere" and I didn't even recognize her with her glam makeup. I was watching her thinking there was something awfully familiar about her. I guess this is why I get unexpectedly recognized a lot more than I recognize other people.

There was a poly-themed play called "Tony, Tommy, Bobby & Johnny," inspired by Diego Rivera's "Detroit Industry," but the ending was gruesome and horrible, with all the title characters made to fall into factory machinery and becoming ground up together and that was played off as humor. Once again, a writer fails to see the happy ending for an alternative relationship style, but rarely is the fault so ergregious as that one.

It's hard to pick a favorite because all the plays had faults, but I would have to say my favorite was the finale, "Purgatory," about an elderly woman confiding to her adult daughter about being raped when she was young. Also good was one titled "The Virgin" (based on the Gustav Klimt painting) about two people meeting at a high school reunion and discovering their teenage tryst meant different things to each of them.

Joan and Bruce left directly after while Andrea and I helped Liz put away the paintings used as props. Josh met us down in the lobby and we went out to have a drink. Liz took us to a club called BPM to meet a friend, but there was some fancy soiree going on and Liz's friend was the photographer, taking pictures of people in front of a step-and-repeat and we were very underdressed. Josh said he saw Jimmy Smits in the bathroom. The music was also pretty awful, with showtunes being played in the bar and dance music on the dance floor that mingled together like milk and orange juice. Liz said hi to her friend and we left to go to The Pony Bar at 45th and 10th Ave, which was blissfully uncrowded and quiet for a bar on St. Patrick's Day.

The service left much to be desired, but they had a good selection of ales, stouts and ciders, and the fried horseradish pickles were delicious. Liz, Andrea and I all had a glass of the bourbon barrel aged cider and Josh had an Irish stout. We all shared a generous shot of Bulleit 10-year bourbon and we talked until nearly 1 am before calling it a night.