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The Play

Happy 35th Anniversary to my department!

Last night was the Big Event: a reception for 300 (open bar), some remarks by the departmental chair and the University president, followed by the play (Oxygen), followed by a semi-closed cast party.Today there's a symposium but I've already slept through half of it. I would go out of a sense of curiousity, but not because I felt the information was necessarily going to be useful. Oh well. I can't do everything.

The actors, all six of them, were quite good. They did a good job with the material they had. But that was one of the 2 main problems with the play: the script, and the painfully long pauses between scenes in the first act. The painfully long pauses were in part a product of having lots of 10-15 second scenes, and then having to make costume changes. Most of the little short scenes had a core of interestingness to them, but would have been if they'd been given a chance to be longer. All the characters were written as two-dimensional. There was nothing subtle about it. It was the sort of play where it is clear at the end of act 1 that act 2 will hold no real surprises, just the really obvious "undercurrents" finally being said even more explicitly than they had already been "implied" (aka said explicitly to other people and fairly implicitly to the right people already.) The use of Abba muzak during scene changes kept making me feel like laughing.

Still, that doesn't mean it was all bad, script-wise. I really liked the Masque held on the Infamous Defeat of Phlogiston, or whatever it was called. Vital Air had SUCH a great costume. The same actress more generally played Madame Lavoisier. I don't know if I liked her so much because she always had the great outfits or because she acted out her two-dimensional words so passionately and well.

Based on this play, I have come to the conclusion that I don't want to be a historian anymore. They're bitchy and obnoxiously coy and arch, nothing like the good, straightforward way scientists are. Gary reassured me that I have nothing to worry about: I'm not a historian, I'm a medievalist!