First Saturday; Exit the King

So I’m in the middle of my first Saturday here.  Santosh and I didn’t emerge from his apartment until eleven.  He had a few errands to run and then we met his friend Riaz  at Cafe Orlin for brunch (I felt very authentic) where I had something called a malawach which involved some fried Yemenese dough, eggs, and tomato sauce.  Delicious and awesome and I was starving so even better.

I parted ways with Santosh and Riaz and took the subway to Times Square for my matinee of Exit the King.  The show, written by the absurdist playwright Eugene Ionesco, had its premiere in 1962 and its Broadway premiere in 1968.  The show consists of two hours of waiting for King Berenger I, the monarch of a crumbling and decaying kingdom, to die.  While the audience waits, the King, played in this production by the astounding prancey and rubber-faced Geoffrey Rush, does everything in his power to avoid dying.  He throws tantrums.  He protests.  He marches and dances and, yes, prances.  In the meantime his first wife, Queen Marguerite (Susan Sarandon), is urging him rather enthusiastically to die already while his second wife, Queen Marie (Lauren Ambrose aka Claire from Six Feet Under I LOVE HER) is weepingly proclaiming her love for the king and beseeching him to maintain his grasp on the mortal coil.  An overworked maid (the only servant in the castle), a guard, and a doctor also throw their opinions of life and death at the king.  Being an absurdist (read: Existentialist, and vaguely reminiscent of this work I read my freshman year of college that involved the death throes of a cockroach–if anyone can tell me the title of this play I will love you forever) play there were a few overly ponderous monologues about life and death and joy and sparks etc., but the director played up the gallows humor and Geoffrey Rush’s manic performance kept things moving.  I especially liked the use of a tapestry portraying scenes of the fall of Berenger’s kingdom as a backdrop, though it got me thinking about the potential of artist/theatre collaborations and how those don’t seem to happen anymore–like Andy Warhol designing for Merce Cunningham and Picasso desgining for the Ballets Russes.  Many artists today could’ve had a curious interpretation of Berenger’s court–especially considering the parallels between Berenger’s kingdom and the previous administration.

Right now I am in Santosh’s apartment.  I am listening to the whirring of the small floor fan I just bought him and his roommate for a house-warming present.  The room in which I am staying has no air conditioning and no windows, and while this makes for a very dark and very quiet space it also makes for a very stuffy space.  Fan to the rescue.  Tonight I am meeting my dear dear dear dear friend Phil Chernyak for dinner and then probably partaking in some festivities with Santosh and his friends, who are currently off in Brooklyn painting someone’s apartment.  I’m foreseeing a watching of the Magic/Cavs game.  I’m not really a watcher of the NBA, but for my father the Cleveland Sports Fan’s sake, I hope the Cavs win.

Time to go back outside–the weather couldn’t be more perfect!

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