Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In which I am too stupid to understand Checkov

Today was my first wake-up in New York! It's still so exciting just to be here, in a place where Eric is and it's wintry and bustle-y and alive.

Eric's neighborhood is super cute and very different from his previous area of Hell's Kitchen/Times Square. Here's a picture of his building:

A building across the street. Such pretty details:

And even in winter in New York City, a flower box blooms:

We had a leisurely day at the apartment, whose climax was the dramatic delivery of a new sleeper couch (it's a five-floor walk-up!). Here's Eric tearing apart the living room to make space for the new arrival:

And here, for those of you who haven't seen one before, is a radiator. Heat (via steam?) comes up pipes throughout the building and radiates out of this gizmo to heat the room it's in. There's all sorts of hissing and other noises involved when it comes on:

As soon as the delivery men left, Eric and I scooted out for the evening's festivities: dinner at the Russian Tea Room followed by an 8:00 curtain for Checkov's The Seagull, featuring Kristin Scott Thomas and Peter Sarsgaard.

The Russian Tea Room is a New York institution. Opened in 1927 by members of the Russian Imperial Ballet, the Tea Room features authentic Russian food in an opulent setting, served by attentive, precise staff. I'd never been before, so this was a real treat.

The food was exotic and tasty. Eric got Chicken Kiev while I had a shrimp risotto that was unlike any I'd ever had before (I avoided several of the choices I probably would have ordinarily picked because they included foie gras among their ingredients. I'm officially a Californian.).

Here are our main courses:

After dinner, there was a special treat in store: we asked the hostess if we could see The Bear. The Bear is a 16-foot-tall, hollow sculpture commissioned by the Tea Room's former owner, who previously also owned Tavern on the Green. The Bear is on the second floor, so we were led up some winding stairs, the hostess (literally) flipped on a spot light, and this is what we saw:

We both gasped. I don't know what I was expecting, but yikes. And yes, those are fishes swimming around in its belly.

After dinner, we headed over to Broadway, to the Walter Kerr Theater, for the night's show, stopping long enough in Times Square for a quick picture:

The Walter Kerr is just a beautiful place to see a show, having been restored several times to its former theatrical glory. Here's a shot of the theater's ceiling as an example:

I need to fully disclose at this point that while I like lots of kinds of art and personal expression, and certainly have always thought of myself as especially liking plays, I'm not really a a terribly arty person. Museums tend to bore me ("Where's the gift shop?"), and lots of so-called classic films leave me cold as well. But when I came to visit several years ago, Eric and I saw Proof at the same theater, and it was wonderful.


I'd never seen any Checkov before, but had always heard wonderful things. About how smart and deep and insightful it all is. I don't know about all that, but after two acts' worth of The Seagull, I basically wanted to kill myself. So much interminable, self-involved dialogue among aristocratic, artistic Russian characters about the nature of real theater and inspiration and true expression. Bah. At intermission I told Eric that I hated it, basically wasn't smart enough to even understand what was happening* and that if we didn't go back in, I would be perfectly happy.

Here's a picture of the stage before the performance began to give you a sense of the happiness and joy that accompany this little production:

Eric was lovely about it, despite how much the tickets were and the reviews the play's received. We left, had a late (second) dessert, and returned to the apartment.

* Eric says I am smart enough to understand it and wanted me to include such as a disclaimer.

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