Time is a curious beast. Before you know it, there you are looking at yourself in the mirror, and five, ten, fifteen years have passed. Subtle. Surprising. Sad. And also wonderful, as with it comes age, wisdom and a deepened sense of self.
These are odd things to think about, I’m assuming, when watching Noël Coward’s Private Lives at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (which I’m reviewing for EDGE). But Gary Griffin’s in-the-round staging caught me off guard last night, in a way that reminded me how easy it is to let time march right on by, unnoticed.
You see, the stage is round (hence in-the-round…), and about 20 minutes in, I realized, “Hey! Those chairs are now facing me when they were pointed the opposite direction at the top of the show! In fact — the entire set has flipped!”
Did I zone out and miss a major set change?
And then I noticed: the stage was spinning just over so slowly — no faster than a minute hand on a giant clock would move. Barely noticeable. Yet there it was — the stage turning, changing, and I didn’t even realize it until the damn thing had almost made a 180-degree rotation.
I’ve always prided myself on my keen observation skills. I guess I was just too engrossed in the action at hand to notice things were gradually transitioning. Not unlike real life, I suppose.
I’ve never seen a show staged in such a way, but it’s rather brilliant. It gives you perspective of the whole stage, without being obtrusive. And I’m sure it colors the themes of the play in some way, but it’s far too early in the morning to articulate all that right now.
Another reminder of time’s impact on my life: I reconnected with an old friend, whom I hadn’t seen in several years, last night. I asked her to be my “plus one” for the show, and she accepted. As we drank wine at the opening night after-party and chatted about the horrors of plastic surgery, old movie stars (she still hates Ann Miller, yet loves Fred Astaire) and tragic towing incidents, it was like no time had passed.
So, yeah. Time.
The show is wonderful. A virtually flawless production full of charm and wit. More to come on that…