Thursday, January 22, 2009

Death and Champagne

Not Famous in Brooklyn

I saw Ralph Fiennes at the Cherry Orchard last night. He was with a beautiful woman. His head was shaved and he wore a cream tweed jacket and pretended he wasn't famous. Marcus said, People didn't fall in love as much.' I agreed. How could they with all those red pillows and Turkish carpets and the guy on stage strumming his guitar. On stage, someone said of a fake person "he died of champagne." Chekhov's last drink was champagne. After, I told Marcus I cried when I went back to visit my grandmother's house, in Serbia, because it was soundless and I had spent so many summers there when I was little. Once each week the barber would come by and shave my grandfather with a straight blade in front of the roses. Marcus said, That's very Chekhovian. Then I remembered to ask Marcus to tell me how evil he is, and he started to but the lights got dim.


RECORDER said...

A little off-topic, but Chekhov seems to short-circuit people's sense of...well, I've been sitting here a minute swapping out "truth" for "love" for "perfection" for "reality" and the most inclusive answer of this toggle-function is "everything" (don't chuckle). I went to the play myself last week, saw no one famous, but was greeted to the largest collection of myopics I've ever encountered when it ended. Everyone was having a different conversation, but each and every one was negative: explanations and evocations of why they hated the play. Chekhov is deeply, deeply unAristotlelian, and there's no better litmus for just how deeply a group of people mistake scripted fictions for reality than to have them react to a Chekhov play. Not that Chekhov is any more objectively real...just a rarer bird overall.

Egg Off-Kilter said...

Watching a Chekhov play, I'm reminded of something that Stanley Fish said of Obama's speeches: "It is as if the speech, rather than being a sustained performance with a cumulative power, was a framework on which a succession of verbal ornaments was hung, and we were being invited not to move forward but to stop and ponder significances only hinted at." He wrote that Obama moved from "meditative bead to meditative bead" inviting us to contemplate but not giving us the appropriate room to contemplate. But it is in the ellipses that the mind is allowed to internalize, to react and to create. It is not so much real as it is a catalyst for projection and for a wider sense of appreciation. I don't expect the 'real' when viewing a Chekhov play as I do an extremely sensual, evocative, laconic montage, the meaning of which lies, maybe, not in its verisimilitude but in its explosion of our concept of what is real, as the films of Gus van Sant do - Gerry, for example. I did actually very much enjoy the play.

A friend had this to say: "I was reading the foreword to a collection of plays by D.H. Lawrence that compared him to Chekhov. Basically Chekhov gives you rhythms of daily speech and lots of character exposition and the like. It's sort of very non-sequitur in ways because characters don't always respond to each other directly, but also seem to be responding to a memory or an inner voice."