I saw “All the Fine Boys”


What I saw: The New Group’s production of “All the Fine Boys,” a new play written and directed by Erica Schmidt at the Pershing Square Theater, on West 42nd between 9th and 10th in Manhattan.


What I did beforehand: woke at first light realizing that I’d fallen asleep and left the bread dough in its bulk rise on the counter overnight so it was ruined, made new bread dough for party the next day, called favorite NYC restaurant seeking a reservation and failed to obtain one, glumly walked dogs, resignedly changed, absently drove to city, inadvertently made excellent time, parked in garage, walked to favorite restaurant, noticed they weren’t even open yet, got a table anyway on the promise that we’d be gone by 6 pm, ate a terrific meal, left an extravagant but not unwarranted tip, walked to theater, drank a tea and a beer because sometimes you need both.

What I wore: 90s-era black Doc Martens, favorite jeans (actually clean this time), almost enormous 80s black silk blouse, loose-knit black linen sweater, larger than necessary gold hoop earrings, ponytail, mascara

Who went with me: the Bacon Provider, who only likes plays with happy endings

How I got tickets: in December, online.

Why I saw this show: I subscribed to the season.


Where I sat: Row A, Seat 3,  between a guy who wanted my attention to tell me things about famous people in the audience, and my husband, who is indifferent to the seeing of and commenting on famous people.


Things that were sad/ not funny: in a play where one character crossed the rapids of the river of adolescence by choosing a good stone to step onto and landed safely on the other bank, but another character chose a stone that looked just as good but was tragically wrong, there was not the happy ending the Bacon Provider prefers.

Things that were funny: a soundtrack of 80s hits, a stack of 80s horror movies, snacking on Pringles and Twizzlers.


Something I ate: deviled eggs at The Marshal.


What it is: another good play with Joe Tippett in it, this intermission-free, 100-minute production moves quickly, tackles some very scary coming-of-age subject matter, and features three other fine performers. 

Who should see it: people unafraid of strong, sexual subject matter with 14-year-old protagonists. 

What I saw on the way home: a bit of rain as a cold front had moved in while we were at the theater.

I saw "Tell Hector I Miss Him"

What I saw: “Tell Hector I Miss Him” a play at the Atlantic Theater Company in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan



What I did beforehand: riding lesson where my instructor reminded me about the red failure signals I saw on the equine simulator, dropped the Bacon Provider’s shirts at the cleaners, bought bagels, went home, showered, got dressed, walked my dogs until they pooped and then took them straight home again, changed shoes, told 19 I was leaving. Realized I hadn’t checked the train schedule. Took off my shoes again. Set an alarm so I wouldn’t be late. Sat down and posted a blog post


Drove to train station listening to the random song Apple Music picked for me, which was Simon & Garfunkle’s “The Only Living Boy in New York,” which I tried to sing along to but kind of sucked at. Got a call from one of the organizers of the auction we attended on Sunday about the week in a Miami condo I bid on and won. Rode the train. 


Got out at Grand Central. Took the shuttle to Times Square where I planned to take the 1. In the middle of the crowded station there were two, slim bespectacled guys with guitars and stylish, short-brimmed straw hats setting up. They had an amp. Their expressions were attentive, like they were waiting for something. Then they began to play. I paused; subway musicians are one of the things I actually like about NYC. A white guy in a knitted balaclava said something to me. I couldn’t hear him. I leaned in.

“It’s fake,” he said, shouting over the Spanish-inflected music. “I saw them setting up. They’re not really playing. The amp is connected to an iPod under that magazine, on top.”

I did not want to yell. I simply touched his arm in an effort to express my understanding and left him. As I descended the stairs to the platform I could still hear him, shouting at the musicians.

This is what’s happening now: angry white guys are showing up and shouting that what’s happening is fake.

What I wore: new black James cords, Chinese-made Australian boots, gray Ibex wool top, black North Face parka, scarf a friend brought me from Scotland, dangly silver earrings, high ponytail 

Who went with me: my niece, A., who came in to the city from Connecticut. 

How I got tickets: many months ago, I booked tickets to this show but changes of plans made it necessary to trade them. As a subscriber to this theater, I have the ability to change what are usually non-refundable tickets. 

Why I saw this show: subscribed to the season. 


Where I sat: Row F, seat 107. Afterwards, my niece told me that this woman in the row in front of us plays the mother of one of the actors on “Orange is the New Black.” Which is confusing because she’s not actually her mom, but if she were she’d totally come to the play, and be all proud, because that’s what moms do. This would be a time she could say, “I’m not her mom, but I play her on TV.”

Things that were sad: this play is about some terribly lonely people.

Things that were funny: eager adulterers, an eager teen, an eager young lesbian, eager drug abuse. 

Things that were not funny: I don’t understand enough Spanish to understand more than the most fundamental cuss words. 

Something I ate: a burger and fries at the Tipsy Parson, on 9th Avenue a few blocks other of the theater.

With a delicious Other Half All-Citra IPA

What it is: a fine play on a small stage with a big cast of talented actors.

Who should see it: fans of “Orange is the New Black,” people who know all the Puerto Rican cuss words, people who want to know all the Puerto Rican cuss words.

What I saw on the way home: I got to my train before the doors opened, but once the doors opened I got on board and walked past the seats facing the right way and for whatever reason sat down facing the wrong way. But I didn’t even find this out until the train started moving and most of the seats had someone sitting there so I had to choose between sitting down with someone who’d be getting up before me or might try to talk to me about fake news or something, or staying put in my own row. 

The other error I made was sitting too close to the bathroom. Really, you just don’t even want to sit in the car with the bathroom. I should have moved. 

But I didn’t move. I didn’t move because I would have had to choose between the other tired people, and most of them were men, and you know that one guy? He is out there. That one guy who thinks that because you’ve sat down next to him, you’ve chosen him. He’s won you over. It’s like you’ve accepted a drink from him at the bar, and now he’s going to talk to you. You’re going to get a piece of his mind. Or, worse. No. I did not want to sit accidentally with that one guy. I didn’t move. It was too late at night to move. Without a better alternative, the seat by the bathroom was better than joining that one guy with the wrong ideas.

There was a parade of men using the bathroom, which was worth keeping an eye on in a furtive way. No eye-contact.  Then some guy went in and was in there for a long time. Things quieted down. I forgot about the bathroom. I got absorbed in the pleasures offered by my iPhone  But then there was the loud retching. Prolonged retching. Repeated retching. People went and got a conductor who was like, oh, yeah, there’s a guy in there barfing. Like that was the most normal thing that happens. A shaved-head guy in a suede jacket near me couldn’t take it anymore and moved to another car. Then suddenly the bathroom door opened and the barfing guy came out, sat down, and passed out. I could see his name and picture on his work ID, still clipped to his belt loop. Things got quiet again. 

As we neared White Plains the barfer’s phone alarm went off. A tall guy in a serious suit and overcoat stepped up to wake him. The barfer lurched to the door and disappeared into the winter night of White Plains. 

As the train pulled away from the station, a trickle of water rolled down the aisle. Soon the trickle became a long puddle. A new guy, with dark, loose curls framing his giant, babyish face came to use the bathroom. He opened the door and loudly announced his joyous complaint to no one and everyone, “Someone’s deliberately clogged the sink!!”


I lifted my feet from the floor of the train car, but I still did not move. I can’t say why.
As we neared my stop, I tip-toed in my manure-proof, Chinese-made Australian paddock boots to the other end of the car. A tired man in an ironic working man’s knit cap and leather dress shoes stood at the edge of the puddle. I encouraged him to step back. Without acknowledging me, he was able to exit in two great long strides. I had to wade through it. 

It was real.


I saw “The Beauty Queen of Leenane"

What I saw: “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” at BAM on Fulton Street in Brooklyn, a venue that appears to be a crumbling relic but it turns out that’s ok because it’s a decorative choice.

Used to be called the Triboro Bridge
What I did beforehand: drove down from Bedhead Hills, ate at a Korean brasserie, because this was Brooklyn. Probably had too much rice wine, or dry riesling, or maybe it was whatever they brought us after dinner because they thought it was the Graduate’s birthday, even though the only reason he got a present from me was this wooden mallet had been backordered at Xmas.

Not my cocktail, tho

What I wore: gold hoop earrings from the 80s, black Doc Marten shoes from the 90s, James jeans, black tissue weight Proenza Schoule dotted tee, my mother’s bracelet, black summer-weight Eileen Fisher cardigan because climate change is real, a Marimekko scarf because Finland has a representative democracy with principles of parliamentarism, and the scowl of crushing despair that we fucking don’t. 

Just in case you think I kid

Who went with me: the Bacon Provider

How I got tickets: online, in mid-December, when people were still able to pretend that maybe everything was gonna be ok somehow.

Why I saw this show: this ad. Their expressions. 

Where I sat: Row G, Seat 2, next to a couple that was arguing.


Things that were sad: the play, like all plays (according to my cousin) was about loneliness. Also, just how crazy we are just under the surface.
I’d rather get a picture
of someone getting a picture

Things that were funny: quite a bit of funny business, including quips and gestures. Really, it was a master class in actors making exquisite choices for their physical expression. Surprises, weirdness, simultaneously natural and unnatural.  

Theater may not be as decrepit as it appears
Things that were not funny: in this play, Chekhov’s gun is portrayed by a fire poker. 

Something I ate: I think it was halibut. Or maybe flounder. One of those. It was white. Did I mention they brought these little shots at the end of dinner, because they thought it was the Graduate’s birthday? Also, carmel-popcorn on ice cream, which I have to now learn to make.
When you’re this Brooklyn,
it’s always your birthday

What it is: a disturbing, much-celebrated play, from the mid-90s. Set in the gritty sort-of-now-ish Ireland where everyone is poor and almost unintelligible to an American audience, and where everyone is fecking nuts. 

Who should see it: theater lovers seeking the sort of two hour and fifteen minute escape that will not restore their faith in humanity in any way

Not fighting

What I saw on the way home: one couple that wasn’t fighting, and one that was.

Fighting

I saw "Rancho Viejo"

What I saw: “Rancho Viejo” at the Playwright’s Horizons Theater, off-Broadway at 416 W 42nd in Manhattan

What I did beforehand: confronted some regrets, mailed holiday cards ornamented with profanity (and signed with my plea, “Don’t start the Revolution without me!”), walked to the train platform in the wake of some dude’s dank doobage, heard the conductor say, “Have a wonderful night” to each and every passenger as he punched their tickets.

What I wore: Keen snow boots, very, very dirty jeans, Big Feelings sweater, now dirty parka, knitted hat, two pairs of fingerless mittens , earrings, mascara.

Who went with me: the Bacon Provider, who met me there. 

Why I saw this show: I saw a review that said it was funny. Also, “Rancho Viejo” sounds like the kind of made-up place name I might come up with.


How I got tickets: I subscribed to the season, and shopped for tickets to this show when I saw that the Bacon Provider had an office holiday party on the 12th. When I got the email confirmation, I saw that I’d reserved a seat to the show on the 19th and not the 12th. I am fucking up all over the place these days. The night of the 18th rolled around and we were reviewing our next-day schedules and I pointed out I’d be seeing this play. I tried to sell my husband on joining me. I waited to tell him the play was three hours long with two intermissions until after he agreed to come.
“If you really don’t want to go, we can eat the ticket.”
“Well, do we at least get to sit together?”


Where I sat: I sat in Row C Seat 5, and the Bacon Provider sat on the other end, in Row C Seat 17. Because, no, we did not get to sit together. 

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Things that were sad: another play about loneliness. 

Things that were funny: there were two brilliant solo dance scenes in the third act which were weird and thrilling and redeemed how ridiculously long the play was overall. I heard audience members on the way out saying they weren’t sure they liked it, which only reinforced my positive feelings about it.

Things that were not funny: most of the first act, which has lively parts and quiet ones, centers on the exquisite self-consciousness of some reasonably well-off, older white people. The audience did not always seem to know when to laugh. 

Something I ate: pretzels in the lobby beforehand. 


What it is: a new play, lasting three hours with two intermissions. 

Who should see it: people with long attention spans who don’t mind watching white people being awkward at parties.

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What I saw on the way home: an earnest and wide-eyed woman who staggered through our train-car, asking people for cold water to drink, and the same cheerful conductor, to whom I said,  “You know, you punched my ticket earlier tonight when your shift just started. Are you always so cheerful?”

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“Yes, ma’am,” he replied. “I love my job.”

I saw "Plenty"


What I saw: “Plenty,” a play at the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street in New York City

Who went with me: my friend B., who I met on Twitter, and I am happy that he’s moved back to NYC. 


What I did beforehand: took the dogs on a potty-walk, fed the cat, drank green tea, went to pilates, ate some cottage cheese, said goodbye to the Bacon Provider, walked the hour-long trail with the dogs in the woods, continued vacation negotiations with the BP via text (because he travels for work, he only wants to spend vacations at home), showered, tried to dry my hair, gave up, got dressed, thought about how I’ve worn denim skirts with black tights and a black shirt since starting my first job teaching math at the University of Utah in the mid-eighties. 

I bought a round-trip ticket at the vending machine and went to stand on the platform. It was cold enough that it was just me and a few crows. The rest of the passengers waited inside.

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When the train came I had to do that quick grapevine dance step, sideways down the platform, looking for seats that face forward, and ended up in a window seat in a set of three rather than my preferred window seat in the sets of two. I had a momentary panic that I had forgotten to take my ticket out of the machine. But I found my ticket in time to get it punched. A young woman sat down next to me and spent a half an hour curling her eyelashes and putting on makeup.


What I wore:
black tights that I bought in Barcelona that are as ill-fitting as they are long-lasting, black Fluevog boots with stacked heels, James jeans dark wash denim skirt, black Tanner belt,  black no-iron cotton fitted Brooks Brothers blouse, rag & bone gray scarf, silver bracelets, vintage earrings, black North Face hooded parka, American-made black drawstring leather bag. 
How I got tickets: online, a while ago, and, for the record I put this evening on my husband’s work calendar but his demanding job made it so he had to leave a day earlier than originally planned. Do I sound bitter? Read on. Something happened that never would have happened with my discreet husband at my side.

Why I saw this show: I like the Public Theater

Where I sat: front row, on the end, between my friend B. and a very old man who fell asleep in the first act and was startled awake by gunfire onstage. 



Things that were sad: I get sad on the train. It passes through Chappaqua. 

Things that were funny: no one writes a play without funny lines, and my friend B. laughed even louder and more frequently than I. 

Things that were not funny: B.’s laughter fleetingly cracked up the male lead, played by the excellent Corey Stoll.

Other things that were funny: at curtain call, the beautiful and talented Rachel Weisz, star of this mad-woman’s-descent-drama, gestured at B. and me in our seats and thanked us, with a laugh and a gesture, “Love you guys.”

In the lobby, we were able to thank a number of cast members for their excellent performances. Everyone displayed grace and good humor. 

Something I ate: banana cake with coffee ice cream and walnut crumble.

What it is:  a revival of an exciting play from the early eighties, featuring intrigue, smoking, gunfire, madness, and nudity, lasting two and a half hours with one 15 minute intermission. 

Who should see it: any adult except anyone who thinks that all women are crazy. 

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What I saw on the way home: some of the stores in Katatonia are getting a jump on Christmas decorations.


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I saw “Women of a Certain Age”

What I saw: “Women of a Certain Age,” at the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street in New York City



What I did beforehand: I dreamed we were building a mews for our golden eagle and the snowy owl.  I woke up to take the Bacon Provider to the train. The power went out while I was brushing my teeth. 

Why do we say “the power went out?” Like power is alive, and it died. Or it left? The deranged thoughts run through me like electricity. As a female citizen in a country with a pussy-grabbing accused child-rapist as president-elect, the power has gone out. We’ll be chased down the street with clubs. The presidency is lost to the forces of female enslavement and they will own the house and senate come January and pack the Supreme Court with old white men bent on snatching back women’s bodily autonomy. And yet fully half the people who could have voted couldn’t be bothered to. 

I drove my husband to the train. I got back in bed with my coat on and tried to check NYSEG’s website on my phone. I couldn’t get enough signal. The cat thought it was taking too long, and stretched out across my chest. I listened to our generator hum. 

What I wore: favorite Fluevogs, black tights, navy eShakti dress that has birds on it, two jackets, eye makeup, look of resignation, unwashed and unbrushed hair. 

Who went with me: the Bacon Provider

How I got tickets: as soon as they were available, online, for $40 each

Why I saw this show: I saw part 1 (which I still consider to be among the best plays I saw this year) and part 2.

Where I sat: row C, seat 14, behind the kitchen sink.


Things that were sad: the Gabriel family is facing some serious financial challenges after a death. This play is set Tuesday night of this week, and the characters all still believe that Hillary Rodham Clinton is about to be elected President of the United States. 

Things that were funny: we arrived early enough to eat before the show, but The Library (a restaurant inside the Public Theater) had no available tables and the noisy bar was packed with happy hour patrons. So we used Yelp! even though I distrust it in New York, and were  directed to two promising nearby restaurants, both of which turned out to be not open yet. A third, Bergen Hill, was around the corner, and inside we found a gorgeous little place with top notch wines by the glass, fancy cocktails, and a variety of small, shared plates (we tried and loved the oysters, hamachi, squid, burrata, and winter bitter greens salad) giving us one of the best spontaneous dining experiences we have had this year. 



Things that were not funny: I want a fourth play about this family. I need to know what happens to them.

Something else I ate: candy I found in my purse. 


What it is: a play, one hour and 45 minutes, performed without intermission. Highly recommended. 

Who should not see it: anyone still too wounded from Tuesday, people hungry for shepherd’s pie.

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What I saw on the way home: the post-its in the Astor Place subway stop. 


The power came back, of course, and the generator went back to sleep until its next automatic weekly test, on Monday. When we lose power I over-focus on the things I can’t do (use the internet, or bake), like I’m terribly inconvenienced by my momentary holiday from Twitter and being a #ragecook. 

I saw "Sense and Sensibility"

What I saw: “Sense and Sensibility” at the Judson Gym at 243 Thompson Street, just south of Washington Square Park, in the West Village in New York City.

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What I wore: a green floral shirt that kept coming unbuttoned, gray jeans, gray Puma sneakers, old classic tan Coach purse with a long, cross-the-body strap from back in the days when they were still made in USA.

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What I did beforehand: ate dinner at Jane with the Bacon Provider and our friend R.


Who went with me: R went with me to the show.

I realize we look nuts

How I got tickets: online

Why I saw this show: relentless Theater Mania marketing

Where I sat: A 101, front and center. I recommend seats towards the middle of the theater.


Things that were sad: when it was over and we realized we should have brought everyone we knew with us.

Things that were funny: the witty repartee of the Queen of Regency Period rom-com, things on wheels, underwear, snippets of rude eating, dancing. 

Things that were not funny: most plays are neither as fun or as good as this.

What it is: a surprisingly faithful adaptation of Jane Austen’s first novel, performed with enthusiasm and precision by a talented ensemble, lasting about 2 1/2 hours, with one intermission. 

Who should see it: gossip-mongers, Anglophiles, people who short attention-spans, beer-drinkers, match-makers, romantics, skeptics, and curmudgeons.

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What I saw on the way home: R gave me a ride most of the way, but as I caught up with the Bacon Provider I discovered I’d walked the last few blocks of Hell’s Kitchen with my shirt mostly unbuttoned.