Chaos Attraction

The Gambling Lady

2014-11-15, 11:06 p.m.

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Tonight I went to see a very old school play called "The Gambling Lady (The Bassett Table)." It sounded like it had potential--about a lady of the 1700's who runs a perennial gambling party out of her home, and she has a female relative who desperately wants to be a scientist. Sounded good to me. (For the record, "basset" is apparently some sort of card game and the show I saw is ah, misspelling, I guess.)

Hoooooly wow, this was a surprising show.
(a) The staging of it is all kinds of crazy--there's techno music playing off and on in the party scenes, "Get Lucky" is going on at the end, and the ladies and gentlemen are somewhat 1700's an somewhat punked out Goth. Everyone has crazy ratty hair, there are lots of high heels and platforms on both genders, and men are randomly wearing earrings and makeup. One character was reminding me of seeing Shakespeare Retold's version of Taming of the Shrew, in which Petruchio shows up somewhat in drag to the wedding. Selfies are taken periodically. It looked GREAT.
(b) The scientist cousin girl, Valeria, has a total jerkass dad who is determined to marry her off to a sailor. In this production, HE IS TOTALLY A PIRATE. Anyway, the pirate very reasonably meets the family and figures out that he doesn't want to marry into these nutters. However, Valeria has a boyfriend named Ensign Lovely*, and the pirate is totally down with dressing up Lovely as a piratical, big-haired relative to fix her up with. Her dad isn't at all picky about which pirate, and Lovely keeps trying to show Valeria that it's all fake hair, but she's paying no attention. Imagine her (and everyone else's) surprise after the wedding when he takes all the hair off...

* the names in this are a bit obvious/much. Or in some cases, flat out false advertising.

(c) The entire writing of this play reminded me of Shakespeare, only a hundred years later.. VERY SIMILAR STYLE, like the flowery talk and audience soliloquies and strange romantic couplings.
(d) One character, Sir James Courtly (the Petruchio-looking dude), is playing the role of a matchmaking Puck in this one, only it gets quite disturbing. Let's just say he gets Lady Reveller (the gambling lady) to marry the guy she's been feuding with by proclaiming his love for her, locking her in the room, and then throwing himself down on her like he's going to rape her. So that the other fellow can run in and rescue her.
(e) That other fellow, Lord Worthy, is a total basketcase throughout the show, screaming, throwing fits (albeit very hilariously), and slapping his servant around. Between that and the general drama he throws up and Lady Reveller basically laughing her head off at him all the time, it's...not a coupling that you root for to happen. At least Valeria and Lovely like to bond over dissecting animals, so they've got something in common. Overall most of the couplings are rather dubious on a good day. So on a feminist level, it's kind of a "hoooooly shit there." Lady Reveller ends up giving up her favorite thing in life--though to be fair, after folks lose their money, throw shit fits, and one of the players starts brandishing his sword and driving them all out of the room, followed by an attempted rape, that might be enough to ruin the fun. And then when she sees Courtly at the wedding and is justifiably terrified, Courtly is all, "It was fake, ha ha!" and she's all "wait, what, y'all faked this?" And then there's silence, and she's all "I forgive you" and I am all WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK NO WAY.

In short: it was great to look at, had a lot of laughs, but is also kinda disturbing in spots. Whoa. To quote from this: "Honestly, if your idea of getting two quarreling lovers to make up and get hitched is to make one of them genuinely frightened of being sexually assaulted, youre not the benevolent matchmaker you think you are." Hear, hear.


In other news, I went to Barnes and Noble again--the one in Natomas that is supposedly closer to my place than the one I usually go to (and indeed, went to on Tuesday). I still had two coupons to use and I had to go get another book for autographing for tomorrow's David Sedaris show. I remember why I've only ever been there once before: god, it's a pain to drive to that shopping center. Turn left on a four-lane busy street, next time turn hard right across another four-lane busy street, then do the same on the left again, then the right...what a pain in the ass. It was less bad on a Saturday afternoon than at night after work the one time I tried to go there before, so it was less scary, but still ick. Anyway, I eventually got the Sedaris book and a Joss Whedon book and the girl waiting on me was all, "Sedaris and Whedon, why are we not friends?" Answer: we don't live in the same area, alas. I have those moments with people periodically: where you meet people who are cool, but you know you'll never run into them again just because your lives only overlapped once. Sigh.

Also, I am back to working on my ugly Christmas sweater idea and spent some time running around looking for lights, screwdrivers, and batteries. I found super cheap lights for like $4 at Rite Aid, which really pleased me.

Oh, and Target has some cheap ugly sweater outfits going on there--I got one that says "Bah Humbug" with a cat trapped in a sweater. It's brilliant.


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