Monday, May 25, 2009

Fiddle Sticks

I keep promising myself that I won't get all fired up about sports any more. Yesterday Eileen and I took in the last of the Nats three-game series against the Orioles at Nationals Park and the locals came up with a whizbang 8-5 victory, featuring Adam Dunn's grand slam homer in the bottom of the 7th. Right then it started raining--not enough for them to call the game but for my better half to move me out of the ball park.

Euphoria invariably inspires hubris and you know what that leads to--has, at least, since the days of the Greeks. So last weekend Albert and I went to Tommy Joe's bar in Bethesda to catch the Cornell-Princeton NCAA lacrosse quarter-final, it being broadcast on ESPN-U and not many sets on any cable system get that. The Big Red started on a roll and ended up thrashing the Tigers and thus made their way into the Final Four at Foxboro this weekend. They were clearly the crashers at the party--Virginia was #1, Syracuse #2, Duke #3, and Princeton #4 in the seedings.

So on Saturday the Red went out and did the unthinkable--they demolished the high and mighty Cavaliers, 15-6. Today, Memorial Day, comes the final, against old local adversary Syracuse, and with 4 minutes left, the Red is up by 3. Right, they let Bill Orange tie it on a misplay with four seconsd left and then lost in the sudden-death. They had run out of steam, literally.

How can I take this seriously? Vicarious living through athletics--ridiculous. I got such a kick out of the Harvard-Yale movie of the '68 Game. Don't ever try to show me a flick of this one. It's not even like losing an election. And to rank this with Greek tragedy? Come on.

But Saturday night we saw Noel Coward's Design for Living at the Lansburgh and it was a magnificent performance. It was Noel at his sparkliest and the height of his daring--he presents three people in love with each other, two guys--the playwright (guess who that was) and the painter, and the girl--an interior decorator, of all things. He produced it in New York because the Lord Chamberlain would have rung down the curtain in London's West End. There of course are major hints at gayness but the immorality that would have kept it from the stage in England was the love triangle of two men each sleeping with the same woman. And no Hays office-Production Code nonsense of them being punished for it either. Coward wrote it for him to play one of the leads with the Lunts, and so he and they did, to rousing success. He had promised to write something when all three of them had achieved the success that they (and the characters in the play) yearned for. The Shakespeare Theatre cast directed by Michael Kahn was superb--I never saw Alfred and Lynn onstage, only twice on 50s television, but this crew was up to the mark.

It's interesting that the Lunts were often criticized for spending their time playing light stuff, but if this was an example, it falls short of the mark because Coward was out to make a point and he succeeded. It's not just sparkles and fluff. And in reality, the Lunts too went out with a bang--their last appearance on Broadway was in the U.S. premiere of that rather grim bit of non-fluff, Freidrich Durrenmatt's The Visit.

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