Monday, February 04, 2008

Happy Days w They Might be Giants

An odd but enjoyable double bill on Saturday. First, Fiona Shaw in Beckett's "Happy Days" at BAM. This was the penultimate performance and very satisfying. Shaw -- who I don't think I've ever seen live, was marvelous. I've never read the play or seen it in performance. So I don't know about earlier dismissals of Winnie as a silly housewife, nor of this production's leanings toward comedy. All I know is what I saw was remarkable. Shaw is trapped up to her waist in the ground amidst a blasted, post-aocalyptic landscape. She has her black bag in arm's length, along with an umbrella and natters on about this and that while Willy (her husband?) mutters nearby. The first act is about an hour and I think Beckett gives us that just so he can take us to the shorter, sharper second act where Winnie is now trapped up to her neck. Bleak, funny and as much about any marriage, any life as the rather odd existence poor Winnie finds herself in. Deeply amusing and enthralling, Shaw looked absolutely knackered during the curtain call and even gave a small bow to the miserable hole she's trapped in, her main partner in the show. Memorable to say the least and I pity the people who weren't in the first few rows like us.

The I went to get mail, almost forgetting I had tickets to They Might Be Giants at the Beacon. They'd sold out for the first time so after 25 years this was a very celebratory show. The two Johns covered many of the biggest hits of their career, with a crackerjack band that made them sound even better, along with a healthy dose of their fine new album The Else and two songs from their kid CDs (which is the music of theirs I know the best). A geeky, happy crowd, with an inordinate amount of couples who kept holding hands, kissing, etc. Seriously, I thought I was at a Luther Vandross or Anita Baker show -- there were a LOT of demonstrative couples for TMBG, unless they're a heretofore unknown aphrodisiac. The sort of performance that turns a casual fan like myself into a much bigger fan. I felt like I got to be there for one of their most special nights. My friend said on the subway people burst into the chorus of "Birdhouse of Your Soul." I saw some fans on the street even blocks away but didn't think to try and engage them in a sing-along.

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