Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Road to Mecca

On my recent visit to St.Louis, Nana and Papa Jim took me for a night on the town. Nouvelle asian cuisine at the 609 Restaurant in the loop -order the shrimp - followed by a searing (thanks for the right adjective, Bill) theatrical experience at the hands of the Orange Girls.

The play was intense partly because I'm haven't seen much live theater of late, but more because of the acting, the writing, and the intimacy of the setting, the 'black box' theater in the basement of COCA. It must have room for about 80 and all the seats were sold. The three actors were practically in our laps. And the performances were strong. They did The Road to Mecca by Athol Fugard. About an older widow, who is a half cazy artist working in concrete, glass and glitter, near the end of her ability to live alone in a remote South African village, her visitor, a young women full of righteous convictions and big city single female perspectives and the Afrikaaner Dutch Reformed Pastor trying to get her into an old folks home. Every layer of life's onion is peeled as the conflcit plays out. Man. See it!

We emerged, semi-stunned, squeezed past the cookie stand and up the stairs for a quick tour of the COCA galleries and - what are the odds- a performance ofThe Vagina Monologues was just ending in the main floor auditorium. (Had the trustees of B'nai Amoona anticipated this when they sold the synogogue to COCA? Probably not.) It was some kind of fundraisers, and about a hundred of Papa Jim's closest friends were milling about. After a quick hello with Beth Lewis, Nana and I had to conduct a surgical extraction, but we made it home before midnight. A memorable evening!