I went to see the Denver Center Theatre Company's1001
last weekend; it was my belated birthday, and I was ready for a night on the town.
I love the theater, but a production has to be really good to catch my cast-iron mistrust by surprise. So I'm a picker and chooser: I've never gone to a play I thought I'd walk out on. This production sounded just wild enough to catch my interest, and I went into it with a big, fat press packet as well as the program. I'm a reader of programs, a detail person who has to know everything before I am blown away by what I couldn't possibly have known. At any rate, I had an idea of what might unfold, and I entered the theater looking for the how, the execution, the mystery of what happens when the lights go down.
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Whatever. I loved the play and won't tell you why; you'll just have to go see for yourself. (And you can read Juliet Wittman's review of the production in Thursday's Westword.) But I came away from it with the weirdest obsession -- because, you see, the couple sitting next to me left the theater a fraction of the way through.
How could they have known what would ensue? 1001 starts out as a fractured fairytale, but it leaves all that far behind in a mere blink of time. These two guys never saw John Livingstone Rolle's lovely take on the blind Jorge Luis Borges. (You wonder what Borges was doing in a play about Scheherazade? I'm not telling.) They never experienced Jason Grote's personalized dissection of Middle East politics. They didn't get to find out whether Alan and Dahna stayed together. In fact, they never knew about Alan and Dahna.
And that made me think about why people walk out of theater in the first place. Heartburn? Superiority? No remote control? How bad can it be?
Why do we go to the theater, if not to test the waters? And what outside the theater could possibly have been better than the inside of a turned-out fairytale showing all its guts onstage with great heart and humor and terror? You tell me. -- Susan Froyd