I celebrated my birthday on Tuesday at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre and the Moises Kaufman play "33 Variations." With Jane Fonda. I loved the play, by the way, even in the face of reviews that called it so-so - though Fonda received accodades for her performance across the board.
More about the play and Fonda's performance later.
A friend asked me if I was going to the play alone. When I answered "Yes," I got the standard "Oh, too bad!" pity-look. That's OK. I'm used to it. But the thing is, I prefer going to plays and movies alone. And, no, I doth not protest too much.
First, a singleton gets a much better seat. I usually decide to go to the theatre at the last minute, and single seats - I mean really great seats - are all that's left. I was dead-center, orchestra - well, closer to the stage than the rear, so even better - for "33 Variations." Last year for "The Year of Magical Thinking" with Vanessa Redgrave? Fourth row, center aisle. Happens all the time for me.
So going it alone pays off. Try getting two or three seats together within a few days of a performance, and chances are that you won't have orchestra or front mezz seats unless you pay a huge premium. My advice - split up and go for the great single seats.
Second, I go to a play or a movie to, er, watch the play or the movie. Crazy, I know. Once those lights go down, I expect to be transported to another place, another experience. I do not require a buddy to make that happen for me. In fact, if I'm with someone, I tend to spend time wondering if he/she is enjoying the show. Yeah, that's a pathology, I realize, but I feel responsible somehow for my buddy's play-going experience. That pulls me away from losing myself in what's going on up on the stage.
Now, I do love discussing a play or a movie afterward, getting other reactions and opinions. Talking about a performance experience is a big part of the fun. But during the play/film? Nope, don't want to know what you're thinking. I'll get back to ya' on that.
So don't cry for me, Argentina, about going to a play alone. I got a better seat and lost myself in the experience. We'll talk later.
Back to "33 Variations." I was totally caught up in the themes of creative and academic process. - not the only themes in the play, but the ones that spoke to me. I never found it slow or plodding, as some have criticized. And Fonda was outstanding. Her character, Katherine Brandt, maintained her spirit and passion, all the while succumbing to Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS). The rest of the cast was strong, too, so the time flew for me.
For me, the play's the thing. Not who's sitting next to me.