Thursday, October 04, 2012

A Few Good Things

We all gathered at my parents’ house on Saturday in order to watch the Minnesota game.

Our plan was to watch the game together—and, if things got out of hand for the Golden Gophers, to go outside and do yard work.

Not long into the game, Minnesota fell behind, 24-0—and, before you know it, we were outside, attending to grass and shrubbery and such.

At least we got my parents’ lawn taken care of—and my mother provided us with an excellent lunch of pasta primavera and poached salmon as reward for our work (the dog got pasta and chicken, since he is not big on seafood, but will always go for a nice baked chicken breast).

We had a fun day, because we were playing with my niece and nephew (and the dog) as much as toiling with yard work.

Late in the afternoon, my older brother and his family went home, taking with them as overnight guest the dog. The rest of us got cleaned up and went over to Bloomington for a night out.

We had a light dinner at a Bloomington family-owned restaurant. We ordered dinner salads of strawberries, walnuts, cranberries, mixed greens, vinaigrette dressing, grilled chicken and feta cheese.

After eating, we attended the Bloomington Civic Theatre production of Aaron Sorkin’s courtroom drama, “A Few Good Men”.

None of us had seen a production of “A Few Good Men”, hard as that is to comprehend. None of us had seen the film version, either, which I understand is pretty gruesome.

We believed the production to be quite excellent—it was on a fully-professional level—and we thought the production reflected great credit on the company (in contrast to the insipid “42nd Street” we endured not long ago in Bloomington).

It has been only in the last couple of years that Bloomington Civic Theatre, long known for the quality of its musical productions, added a second theater for the presentation of dramas—and the decision to expand the theater’s mission seems to be working out splendidly. Now, more than ever, Bloomington Civic Theatre remains the most important civic theater in the country. (It is also, I believe, by far the most lavishly funded.)

Sorkin’s play itself is melodramatic and formulaic, an inherent hazard of the courtroom drama, a genre that surely needs to disappear. The entire time I was sitting through the play, I kept saying to myself, “This is precisely the sort of thing Lillian Hellman would be writing if she were alive today.” Happily, Hellman is long gone—but Sorkin, for reasons unknown, has elected to follow in her footsteps.

The popularity of “A Few Good Men” will wane in another decade or so. The play is all plot. There are no memorable characters, no penetrating thoughts, no original ideas in the play. Indeed, I am surprised the play has endured as long as it has (it first appeared in 1989).

After the performance, we went back to Edina, stopping at The Cheesecake Factory for a late dessert of banana cream cheesecake, which hit the spot.

This coming weekend, Columbus Day Weekend, Joshua and I will have a visitor: Josh’s sister, who will fly in from Chicago to spend Friday through Monday with us.

We have a few things planned to keep Josh’s sister amused: a performance of “Red”, a play about Mark Rothko, at Park Square Theatre; a performance of “Tales From Hollywood”, Christopher Hampton’s play about German intellectual émigrés escaping Nazi Germany for Hollywood, at The Guthrie Theater; a Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra concert; and a recital by pianist Simone Dinnerstein.

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