Big news: Kito and I have made an offer on a condo, and it has been accepted (well, after having been countered and raised and revised a bit). The place is on Granville in Edgewater and has a sunroom and an area for my desk and a whopping 2.5 baths. Look, Ma! Your boy owns three toilets!
The process has now entered the heavy paperwork phase. When we meet with the loan officer on Saturday, I'm supposed to bring my tax returns for 2009-10, my W-2 forms for the last three years, my two most recent pay stubs, a form of ID, two months of bank statements, and a triplicate copy of those letters of transit that got Peter Lorre shot in Casablanca.
I find this request rather daunting. Who knew you were supposed to save tax returns? Do you think they'll settle for an ATM receipt and a half-filled Jimmy Johns Repeater Eater card instead?
My review of The Inconvenience's Hit the Wall is in this week's Time Out Chicago.
The Feast: An Intimate Tempest (Chicago Shakespeare Theater/Redmoon)
Prospero has gotten difficult to like. An audience watching a production of William Shakespeare's The Tempest in, say, 18th or 19th century London might be expected to sympathize with a protagonist who, having been exiled from Europe, has spent the last 12 years lording it over the natives on some faraway island. In our postcolonial age, though, we're liable to wonder how the natives feel about the whole thing. And what was once considered a comic fantasy centering on an enlightened sage becomes an altogether thornier proposition.
Prospero strikes many modern playgoers as arrogant and peevish at best and, at worst, tyrannical and flat-out cruel. In particular, he's not a very nice boss. With the help of his magical powers, he holds two slaves in his thrall: Ariel the sprite and Caliban the brute. The former is Prospero's favorite, but the pixie longs for freedom nonetheless. As for Caliban, his master bullies and berates him mercilessly (this is partly because Caliban has attempted to sleep with Prospero's daughter, Miranda).
In The Feast, adaptors Jessica Thebus and Frank Maugeri limit the characters to just these three. Their Prospero (John Judd) spends all his time in a gloomy banquet hall outfitted with a large, cross-shaped wooden table. He forces Ariel (Samuel Taylor) and Caliban (Adrian Danzig) to act out scenes from a story he's written--a process they have to repeat over and over until it's perfect.
In his tale, Prospero casts himself as an all-powerful Svengali who shipwrecks and confounds his political enemies, choreographs a favorable marriage for his daughter, and thwarts an insurrection led by Caliban. This is, of course, what happens in Shakespeare's play, but since in this case everything is filtered through Prospero's own imaginings or maybe his memories, he comes across, variously, as a megalomaniac, a sadist, and a madman.
To tell the tale, Taylor and Danzig use a number of eerily lifelike puppets and masks. They're assisted by the banquet table itself, a marvelous contraption from which scenery seems to rise of its own accord.
This story-theater element combines with a bleak sensibility similar to that of Samuel Beckett. As Tony Adler pointed out in the Chicago Reader, the scenario calls to mind Krapp's Last Tape, in which another old man tells himself his own life story in a last, desperate bid to understand it. In its prisonlike atmosphere and inquiry into the master-slave relationship, The Feast also reminded me of Hamm and Clov in Endgame as well as Lucky and Pozzo in Waiting for Godot.
In the end, Thebus and Maugeri leave us wondering whether Prospero's tale is true, made up, or told merely to exercise his power over his servants. But this inventive and strangely beautiful distillation of the original is awfully satisfying anyhow, thanks in no small part to the adaptors' handling of the ending, when Prospero finally finishes his story, relinquishes his powers, and sets his bondsmen free. The gesture doesn't entirely redeem the puppet master, but it humanizes the man.
A look at how I've been diverting myself lately.
READ: Shakespeare's Sonnets, ed. by Katherine Duncan-Jones [these are some gay-ass poems, y'all].
COMING UP: Charles Nicholl, August Strindberg, Robert Gottlieb.
SAW: The Feast: An Intimate Tempest (Chicago Shakespeare Theater/Redmoon) [more on this later].
SAW: The Artist [that dog should've gotten an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor].
LAST WEEK'S MOVIE NIGHT PICKS:
THEME: Jack Lemmon.
KITO'S SELECTION: Some Like It Hot (dir. Wilder, 1959) [See Glitter, below, for a clip].
MINE: The Odd Couple (Saks, 1968) [I really liked the layout of Oscar's apartment].
SAW: "Teenie Harris, Photographer" @ Harold Washington Library Center [fascinating photos of Pittsburgh's predominantly African-American Hill District during the middle of the 20th century].
WATCHING: 30 Rock (NBC), Parks and Recreation (NBC), Project Runway All Stars (Lifetime), The Simpsons (Fox), The Good Wife (CBS), Glee (Fox), Parenthood (NBC) [I've finally caught up, just in time for next week's third season finale], Top Chef Texas (Bravo) [go Paul!].
Conservatives, lesbians, Chicago theater, photography, animals, Daniel Radcliffe, food, TV, Kito, female vocalists, the 1980s, single ladies, anti-gay bullying, the Beatles, comedy, Eugene O'Neill, the Oscars, books.
FOUR THINGS I'M LOOKING FOR IN AN APARTMENT:
1. An office.
2. A dining area.
4. The answer to all my problems.
ONE YEAR AGO: "Larry Bommer: rememberer of old shows, righter of wrongs."
TWO YEARS AGO: "Something to keep in mind at a karaoke bar: there are unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know."
FOUR YEARS AGO: "I am Dr. James Dobson's worst nightmare."
SIX YEARS AGO: "Playwright Richard Greenberg never lets the fact that he has little to say get in the way of his saying a lot."
Four things that have been making me feel old lately:
1. Apparently the whiskers on my chin grow in gray now.
2. New technologies and pop stars baffle me.
3. Every day, the world seems fuller of impossibly beautiful men, and all of them appear to be significantly younger than I am.
4. And I hate the way they dress.
Kito and I have begun the transition from tenants to homeowners. The lease on our current apartment expires at the end of April, and we figured it was a good time to buy a place of our own. So we got ourselves a realtor and got ourselves "pre-approved" for a mortgage.
Every few days, the realtor, Tabitha, emails us a batch of property profile pages containing photos and stats and such. We look them over and indicate in a little box whether we are "Interested," "Not Interested," or "Maybe Interested." This part of the process is sort of fun because it's similar to rating photos on that Hot or Not site that was briefly popular in the Internet's pre-Facebook days.
Tabitha then sets up showings at properties in which we have indicated an interest. During a showing, the three of us traipse through some stranger's home, and Kito and I try to imagine ourselves living there. Sometimes it's hard not to get distracted by the current owner's decor. At the second place we toured, for instance, there was a large painting of an erect penis with a crucifix dangling from its shaft. I was supposed to be thinking about square footage and where to put the dining room table, but all I could think about was how if I owned that painting I'd have to take it down every time my mother came to visit because an erect cock is bad enough, but a Catholic one is unthinkable.
Generally, it's easier to find reasons for excluding a place than reasons for keeping it in the running. Ideally, I want a home that's vintage but modernized but not too modernized, with a small office and lots of sunlight and fixtures that don't look chintzy. I'd like the floors and cabinetry to feel sturdy, and I'd like for the overall vibe to feel inviting and interesting, and, basically, I'd like for the place to make me happy and solve all my problems and convince me that everything is going to be okay. And it should be close to the el.
I'll know it when I see it.
A poem I clipped from the February 16 issue of The New Republic:
For the AIDS Dead
The plague you have thus far survived. They didn't.
Nothing that they did in bed that you didn't.
Writing a poem, I cleave to "you." You
means I, one, you, as well as the you
inside you constantly talk to. Without
justice or logic, without
sense, you survived. They didn't.
Nothing that they did in bed that you didn't.
My short review of Six Hours Short Productions' Chester and the Unbearable Burden, Parts I and II is in this week's Chicago Reader.
Hunger (Lifeline Theatre). During the Siege of Leningrad, a group of botanists struggles to survive shelling, extreme deprivation, and their own government. Chris Hainsworth's adaptation of Elise Blackwell's novel is alternately mordant and mournful. Through March 25.
Zastrozzi, the Master of Discipline (The Division). A criminal mastermind tracks down his messianic (and rather moronic) nemesis. In its debut effort, The Division shows it has vigor and panache to spare. Through February 25.
Hesperia (Writers' Theatre). A porn star becomes born again, and discovers that the flesh and the past aren't easily ignored. Randall Colburn's insightful and compassionate script gets a sensitively acted production from Writers' Theatre. Through March 18.
Gypsy (Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace). A wholly competent version of the classic musical by Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents. Klea Blackhurst's Mermanish Mama Rose doesn't reveal any new facets of the character, but she gets the job done. Through April 1.
Stuff I've dug up.
Here's a passage from a diary entry I wrote on today's date 11 years ago. I was 21 (and it shows).
I saw Gabriel again last night. I don't even know why. I don't particularly like him. I think I just want to make sure he continues liking me. Also, I sort of feel sorry for him. He seems lonely and insecure (what other reason for all those ill-timed, inappropriate reminders of his parents' wealth?). Having pity for him isn't the same as finding him appealing, mind you. On the contrary, I think he's a status-obsessed, self-absorbed, mean-spirited brat. I'm just saying that I understand what drives all the brattiness. It doesn't make me like him, but it does provide me with enough sympathy to sleep with him.
Kito and I have decided on a destination for our annual international trip: Istanbul. I realize that it's not as exotic as last year's tour through Atlantic Canada, but we want to see the world in all its multifariousness.
My elderly friend, Marie, seems to be fairly convinced that I'll end up in a Turkish prison. She's brought it up twice.
We leave at the end of August.
My review of Writers' Theatre's Hesperia is in this week's Chicago Reader.