Dinner and a Show
Last night I went to a Broadway show. But not a feel-good, oh-I'll-take-something-in-while-I'm-in-the-city show. I saw Next to Normal, which is still in previews, but based on last night I'd say they're ready for opening. My theatregoing companion, a friend from college, called it "a smart-choice sandwich"--smart choices on top of smart choices. It was also disturbing and sad and emotionally rocking, and resistant of easy pat resolution. But not depressing, partly because it was thrilling to see something SO GOOD. Wow. Week after week I read theatre reviews in the New Yorker and think, oh, well, maybe it'll go on tour. But this one I got to see.
I want to write about it, but Delia covered much of what I'd say, and the rest is spoilers. But if you can see it, I'd recommend this (for grownups, not kids) over a big snazzy revival any day.
And for me it was all the more vivid because I got to go with this particular college friend, who was one of my two or three friends in the city the year I lived in Brooklyn after graduation. (Two or three friends wasn't nearly enough for me back then, which is one reason I left. But she was a good one to have.) We walked to the subway together after the show, talking and talking about what we'd just seen. We spent so many evenings walking back to the subway after seeing things. I don't want to say it was like the last nineteen years never happened--part of what we talked about, and some of what the show was about, was this strange phenomenon of being middle-aged. We hadn't seen each other for some years, and it was nice to be grownups together, to compare the somewhat-parallel tracks our lives have taken. So no, not like the years never happened, but familiar, a touchstone to my past self, and to that alternate ghost self who stayed in the city instead of lighting out for the west coast almost twenty years ago. Chances are, that self would also be meeting up with this friend every once in a while to go see some show or other, and walking through the dark to the subway together, talking and talking, and then swiping our MetroCards and going to wait on our separate platforms.
I meant to write about all six things: that show, plus the Chinese sesame noodles and the Empire State Building and Katz's and the central library and the Amerikan Grrl store. Oh, and the hot dog with mustard and sauerkraut, which makes seven. But this seems like enough for now, I think.