Thursday, September 22, 2005

Storms of emotion

Hurricanes hitting America in sequential attacks. If only the Cowboy President could clue up to the fact that turning one's back on the environment is akin to an act of terrorism! One watches Rita taking her wicked course and feels desolate for the people and places in her path. They do not deserve this.

Meanwhile, Downunder in the City of the Arts, I have been at the theatre - a long night at the theatre. Two new plays, one after the other. This night was historic in that there are certain moments in a critic's life when one sinks to a spectacular low, a new nadir. Tonight provided such a moment. It was a play written by a retired defence scientist and based on the life of physicist Richard Feynman, a fairly didactic play examining the degree to which scientists should be culpable for the uses to which their discoveries are put. Therein, the audience was subjected to a graveside grief scene in which a particularly tedious and over-exposed mature actress, playing Feynman's oh-so-Jewish mother, gave such a strident and torrid delivery of sodden emotional cliches that it took only one long-suffering sidelong glance from my companion for me to start finding that this was so sensationally bad that it was really very funny. I found myself getting the giggles. Ohmygod, how embarrassing. I sat taut and contained myself, covering my mouth and closing my eyes. If anything was visible, maybe a slight shuddering - until I had the mirth under control. Then, the only evidence were the tears rolling down my cheeks and one can only hope the cast may have thought I was deeply moved by the tragedy of the scene. Well, maybe - until they read my rather stern review.

There was an interesting corollary to this scientist's play about scientists. He depicted two - Feynman and a modern chemist engaged in developing highly profitable and expedient agrochemicals the legacy of which would be a generation of toeless Thai children. While the subject matter is decidedly interesting, some of the emotional interplay is absolutely not. It is drenched with laborious stereotypes and emotional kitsch - the playwright proving one of the principles of the play, that scientists are not good in emotional matters

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