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Archive for February, 2011

It blossomed from a bud, born through an unexpected series of events. That was our friendship. It was cultivated through years of mutual respect and support. Each year, the vibrant colors of affection lasted through the spring, defying the changing seasons of fall and harsh winter. Then one day the colors slowly began to fade, showing signs of faltering, yet remained resilient.  Try as I might to irrigate it with laughter and communication, the petals of our connection died and fell. Eventually, our once flowering camaraderie dried out to the root, withering into the dusty memories I now cling to. The reminiscence of what once was is a contrast to my current state of loneliness. Once touched by the wonderful gift of friendship, my heart now feels the curse of emptiness in the place you once occupied. I will miss you dearly. Yet, I know good things often end far too soon. But it was good while it lasted. It was good. It was…

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Petals of Time

Like the rose, love blossoms. It is a blooming adventure that unfolds with the petals of time, revealing new wonders while forever changing the beholder. Though it’s sometimes difficult to see beyond the weedy thickets of adversity, love always grows and thrives in the garden of life.  

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Alan Rickman and co-star Lindsay Duncan (Photo credit: Richard Termine)

This past Saturday I attended a matinee performance of John Gabriel Borkman at the BAM theater. I bought my tickets fairly close to the performance date, but was lucky to get an orchestra seat seven rows from the stage, which was very good. The scenery was simple; a few snow banks served as a backdrop to several pieces of furniture, including a grand piano. The dark neutral colors reflected the bleak illustration of the dying legacies of the main characters.

The story takes place eight years after bank manager, John Gabriel Borkman’s (Alan Rickman) release from a five-year prison stint. His incarceration stemmed from unscrupulous business practices that resulted in financial ruin for his clients. The devastation overflowed into his family as his reputation and name were destroyed.

In the opening scene Ms. Gunhild Borkman (Fiona Shaw) is in the downstairs sitting room, visibly troubled. She seems to be nearing the brink of madness as her estranged husband, John Gabriel Borkman (Alan Rickman) paces in the room above, where he’s been steeping in bitter disgrace for eight years. Gunhild’s been doing the same while pondering her family’s predicament.  Her twin sister Ella Rentheim (Lindsay Duncan) interrupts her torturous contemplation when she makes an unexpected visit.

Ella, John Gabriel’s ex-lover, expresses the desire to claim the heart of Erhart, the son he shares with Gunhild. Psychologically, Ella views Erhart as the child she could never have. She sees him as the child her sister stole from her, despite the fact Gunhild is the one who birthed him. Gunhild is outraged and refuses to be replaced as a mother. In addition, she has dreams of her own; that her son will be the hero to cleanse and restore their family honor. Erhart, now in his early 20s, is a young man who simply wants to live and enjoy his life. His pursuit of happiness seems strange and even foolish to his elder relatives who are clamoring for his affection.

John Gabriel is a chauvinistic, self-centered and egotistical man who fails to see the error of the ways that destroyed so many. If anything, he’s removed himself from the line of blame. Yet, even in all this, I couldn’t help but feel some degree of pity for him. The full range of his devastatingly skewed priorities come to light, revealing the path of broken hearts and shattered dreams. This becomes buried in a blizzard of harsh reality when, in the presence of the one he loved, he whispers tenderly “I love you.” Yet, his undying affection is directed toward his dream, his pursuit of power. In a twisted sense of irony, the seductive pull of power’s promise eludes him much like he abandoned those who truly cared for him at one time or another. Though the story contains many grim and melancholy elements, there are moments where dry humor is injected, providing the audience with breaks from the mounting tension.

The entire cast did a remarkable job portraying their respective characters. Alan Rickman was captivating and commanded the stage. His incredible voice and line delivery were matched by his skillful communication through body language. Fiona Shaw and Lindsay Duncan’s performances blew me away as well. They communicated the pain of their characters flawlessly as they fought for Erhart’s love and struggled to cope with not only their hollowed hearts, but the changing season as they entered life’s winter. It was heartbreaking to watch the three main characters making a final desperate plea for Erhart’s love and allegiance. Erhart seems to be the family’s final flickering flame of affection occupying their cooling, hardening hearts. Tragically, when he leaves to follow his own heart, all seems lost for the elders.

Despite the fact John Gabriel Borkman was written in 1896, it is still very relevant in that it exhibits the destructive consequences of deception. I found it thought-provoking. Just how far would I go to achieve my dream? How will I ensure the establishment of my boundaries so that my loved ones won’t be crushed by my drive and ambition? I’m glad to have caught one of the final performances of this play, which ended on Sunday, February 6th.

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