Monday, April 13, 2009


On Friday night, Joshua and I had tickets to Krystian Zimerman’s recital at Jordan Hall. Zimerman cancelled, which disappointed us, as we both had wanted to hear him.

At least we learned of the cancellation in advance. Because Zimerman had cancelled a recital elsewhere just a few days earlier, Josh and I had been keeping our eyes on the Boston Celebrity Series website to see whether Zimerman’s Boston recital was going to proceed as scheduled. On Friday morning, we noticed that the website had posted a notice announcing Zimerman’s cancellation.

Josh and I remained in a frame of mind to do something Friday night, so we looked for alternatives and settled upon a performance of William Inge’s 1953 play, “Picnic”, at Stoneham Theatre in Stoneham.

Consequently, very late on Friday afternoon, we drove up to Stoneham, a town totally new to us, and easily located the theater.

Stoneham Theatre is a professional theater company that presents a seven-play season in a small but fine facility.

Neither of us had seen a stage production of “Picnic”—the play is very, very seldom revived today—and neither of us had seen the movie, either. We were curious to see a live presentation of the play, and we looked forward to an old-fashioned play with a large cast, the kind of play no longer written and produced.

“Picnic” more than held our interest. Of course the play is dated, and remarkably similar in tone and theme to Inge’s other stage works, but we enjoyed the play and the performance immensely.

“Picnic” is not a strong play—one can observe the plot gears grinding from the opening scene, and predict the final resolution within seconds of the arrival of Hal, the drifter—and the Stoneham Theatre production was not strong, but we had a very good time. We probably will never want to see the play again, but it was a night well-spent.

We almost stayed in town Friday night to catch a performance of Charlotte Jones’s 2001 play, “Humble Boy”, at Boston’s Publick Theatre, but we decided to see “Picnic” instead. We may try to catch a performance of “Humble Boy” next weekend.

We are coming to the end of Josh’s school term. Josh will soon move into full-time study mode for his first-year exams.

We also are coming to the end of Boston’s concert season. We plan to attend one more concert before the term is over—The National Philharmonic Of Russia, on tour in the U.S., playing a Russian program under Vladimir Spivakov—and we may attend a concert by Boston’s Handel And Haydn Society, playing an all-Haydn concert under Roger Norrington (the attraction is Haydn, not Norrington). With regard to the latter concert, we will make a decision whether to go at the very last minute.

Josh and I missed a substantial number of concerts offered this season by the Boston Celebrity Series, the local presenter of guest artists. This was regrettable, but Josh and I are in Boston to attend to business, not to attend concerts.

We missed several string quartets, several pianists, and several vocalists. However, we have to schedule things around Josh’s schoolwork, and most of the concerts we missed were on weeknights or during exam period or while we were busy doing other things or featured artists we already had heard too often. Upon reflection, I find it amazing that we managed to attend any concerts at all.

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