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A Waking Dream

photo by Almeida Theatre
Here’s what I love about the theatre.

I’m in the second row of the cozy Almeida tonight, not more than 2 or 3 meters from Eileen Atkins and Imelda Staunton. They're not miked. Not once do I think about “I saw something nasty in the woodshed” or “I help girls out.” I totally forget about the woman in Indiscretions whose little finger acted circles around a heaving Kathleen Turner in kabuki makeup and a nude, wet Jude Law jumping up and down in a bathtub.

That, by the way, was a 22-year old Jude Law and is not easily forgotten.

For two hours tonight, I was mesmerized by a crazy old loon (who may or may not be evil) and a domineering, repressed-to-the-point-of-being somewhat-evil middle-aged scholar (who may or may not be crazy).

For two hours tonight, I believed that the beach where Eugene killed himself was just a walk down the rocky path (amazing set design by Robert Jones).

For two hours tonight, I believed that Ms. Atikins an Ms. Staunton are two distinctly different relatives, each desperate for control -- of their grief, of their families, and of their own (perhaps self-imposed) madness.

I loved that during intermission, I say “Eileen Atkins is amazing” and my date for the night says “I just want to punch her. I guess that means her performance is good." Oddly, I sort of wanted to punch (well, maybe throttle) Imelda Staunton.

I loved that two people can see the same thing on a stage and have distinctly differnt reactions, and both be justified.

I’m three for three on intelliegent, funny, dark, and moving theatre. In less than a week, I’ve been transported to a repressing school in 19th century Germany, a maniaically manipulative Hollywood agent’s office (not to mention her diabolical mind), and a seaside cottage on the haunted shores of Western Ireland. (If we count theatre of good intentions, then we can add the hills and caves of Hope Falls, West Virginia.)

If you’re anywhere near London, go and see There Came A Gypsy Riding. It’s dark. It’s funny. It's sad. It's poetic. It’s a master class in acting.