Today in My History

2000:  Doing the Best I Can
2001:  So Long for Awhile
2002:  The Great American Pastime
2003:  Top Dogs
2004:  The Rock
2005:  The Tourist
2006:   Ewww


IN MY OPINION
1776

Books Read in 2007

Updated 9/04:
"A Good Dog"


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THE PERKS

10 September 2007

There aren't a lot of perks that you get as a reviewer (other than tickets to all the shows, of course...but then you have to come home and sit up half the night writing a review!), but once in awhile you do get something kind of cool.

Last night was opening night for Todd Blakesley's A Patriot Act:  The Trial of George W. Bush.  (Doesn't the very thought of that just warm the cockles of your heart?) at California Stage in Sacramento.

It's an interesting show.  The premise is that Bush and Cheney have been arrested and charged with war crimes, dereliction of duty, and treason.  Cheney's trial is going on somewhere else, but we are there for the trial of the President.  We, the audience, are witnesses and jury.  As people enter the theatre, they are asked to indicate whether they wish to be a member of one of the three juries, a witness for either the defense or the prosecution, or merely an observer.

Being the "behind the potted palm" kind of person, I opted to be an observer, as did most people.  But there were a fair number who agreed to sit on one of the juries or who wanted to be witnesses.

Not surprisingly, the larger number of people wanted to be witnesses for the prosecution.

One of the members of one of the juries was Zelda Rubinstein.  Remember her?  Maybe not by name, but she is the little person who was the eccentric medium in Poltergeist and its sequels, and was the sheriff's secretary (I think) in Picket Fences many years ago.  (She actually has a long list of credits, but will probably mostly be remembered for those two roles).  Rubinstein has a long friendship with one of the directors and was looking forward to the play.  (Tony Shalhoub - Adrian Monk - was also going to attend, because his sister is involved in that particular theatre company, but in the end was a no-show).

This particular opening night performance was a $75 ticket, and included dinner following the show.  As a critic, I was given a free ticket and could bring Walt for only $25.  Such a deal.

The trial lasted about 2 hrs and included many impassioned statements and lively questioning by the attorneys for both the prosecution and the defense.  I told the lead prosecution attorney that if I ever needed legal assistance, he would be my guy.  Talk about commanding attention and respect and playing the role flawlessly.  Of course he's an attorney in real life, which may have helped (though there were 3 other actors who are attorneys in real life and I didn't feel they were nearly as good).

At the conclusion of testimony, the juries retired to their respective deliberation rooms and returned 10 minutes later with a guilty verdict on all counts.  Surprisingly, I was shocked that Bush was convicted of treason.  I really didn't think that they proved that case at all. 

In performances in San Diego, the only other place where this play has run, there were 39 jury convictions, 11 acquittals, and 38 hung juries, so it is not a foregone conclusion that the president will be convicted across the board, which lends a bit of suspense to the action.  Not even the judge or attorneys know which way it's going to turn until the juries announce their verdict.

Following the play, there was a dinner in the theatre courtyard, a good ol' Texas barbeque (which seems strangely appropriate for this play!) with ribs and chicken and cole slaw, potato salad, and then an apple banana curry sort of accompaniment to the meat.

This dish was the creation of Zelda Rubinstein, who created it many years ago and who gave a demonstration of how to make it.  It was more fun watching her try to work around the awkwardness of trying to work on a table that was too tall for her (not only is she a little person, but she is currently in a wheelchair from an accident several months ago where she broke her hip), and trying to see the ingredients in the semi-darkness.  I also loved that this is a woman who supposedly attended (I don't know if she graduated) the Cordon Bleu in Paris and yet cooks while licking her fingers after every bit of food that she handles!

Anyway, it was great fun and I got a bit of video out of it.  I'm just sorry I missed Shalhoub.  Perhaps the idea of the phobia-ridden "Monk" meeting me was just too overwhelming.

As I said, there aren't a lot of perks of being a critic, but something like this comes along now and then and it makes the job even more enjoyable.
 

PHOTO OF THE DAY

Zelda Rubinstein

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