Monday, January 15, 2007


Neil Labute & Paul Hindemith and Good Friends on MLKJr Day

Playwright Neil Labute and composer Paul Hindemith probably don't have much in common other than people might misunderstand their work.

This past week I saw "This is how it goes" by Labute at the Studio Theatre and heard Paul Hindemith's "Concerto for violin and orchestra (1939)" played by the National Symphony Orchestra and Leila Josefowicz at the Kennedy Center.

First the play, whereas some might not like the nature of Labute's work (that is, how people interact and how close their biases come to surface), the play is well worth a night's evening out for no other reason than the play challenges us to question our own inner thoughts in light of recent faux pas by ex-Senator George Allen (forgive me for mentioning this name but he is just the tip of the iceberg) and others who have shown their true colors. The cast: Eric Feldman, Anne Bowles, and Benton Greene did a fine job; it's just the male characters who are too much to stomach.

My partner and I have noticed that the Studio Theatre seems to have a pattern of producing short plays of late; this is good for a week night's out but many times one comes away wanting more theatre.

Paul Hindemith's passages for the solo violinist were quite pleasing and Leila Josefowicz is quite accomplished but overall the 27-minute concerto is not one I would count as a favorite.

The NSO ended the evening with Johann Strauss's "Emperor Waltz" which was a crowd pleaser and once again Leonard Slatkin did not disappoint nor did the orchestra.

Thank goodness for good friends, the kind one enjoys on a long weekend in the same mountain chalet. Fortunately, we have good friends who also enjoy our company and who have invited us to stay in their home on numerous occasions. Aside from intellectual conversation (no TV, thank God) and good food and drink, we are able to commune with nature at Cool Font, West Virginia. We always come away, saying "isn't it nice to be able to really talk and break bread with others who share similar values while not putting on airs. It seems that certain segments of societies are caught up in the rat race and it is refreshing to find others who wish to be part of the rat race (for we all need a well-paying profession) while still being able to pull away from it and not letting the 'rat race' dominate our lives." Certainly the characters in "This is how it goes" could have learned this lesson.

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