A Streetcar Named Desire

I had fruit salad for dinner...fruit salad soaked in wine. Well, mostly wine with a little fruit mixed in. Wine with an orange slice and a grape and some rosemary garnish. OK, it was mostly wine.

I had fruit salad for dinner…fruit salad soaked in wine. Well, wine with a little fruit mixed in. Wine with an orange slice and a grape and some rosemary garnish. OK, it was mostly wine.

I bought tickets to see Streetcar in New York many months ago, mostly on a whim, with the idea I’d have time to save up for the trip and figure out the details. And I did! My mom and I drove down to New York and stayed with her friend, then we took a day trip to the city.

After a delicious lunch/early dinner at Carmine’s (mmm, sangria), we hailed a cab to Brooklyn (my first experience in a NYC cab, how exciting) and wandered around the waterfront until St. Ann’s Warehouse opened. I wish we’d had more time to explore DUMBO and meet people while we were there!

Hangin' out in DUMBO

Hangin’ out in DUMBO

I’d heard a lot about the production from fans, but seeing it in person was intense. With the rotating stage in the middle of the room, you feel like you’re part of the drama. Our seats were in the 100’s, third row back, with a good view of the room; there are no bad seats in the auditorium because it’s such a small, intimate space.

Gillian’s entrance was both familiar and not; suddenly there was this face I’d known since my childhood standing not ten feet away from me, but it wasn’t Scully. It was Blanche DuBois in the flesh, and the energy she brought to the room was palpable. I’d seen her character in pictures, but she looks stronger there, whereas on stage, there’s a frailty to her character. Seeing her tiny frame tottering around the stage in huge heels only magnifies the effect. 

I loved that the minimalist set gave the impression that the play could have taken place at any time. Blanche’s descent into madness felt real; her desperation grew with every glass of booze poured down her throat. The music that plays in her head as she thinks of her late husband was haunting, and the transitions between scenes were as violent and unpredictable as her moods.

The stage!

The stage!

One thing I didn’t expect, but was a pleasant surprise, was that it was funny. Dark humor (my favorite), but there were several moments that had the audience laughing. How they made Tennessee Williams the least bit funny is beyond me, but good on the director and cast for pulling it off.

I worried the length of the play would be uncomfortable with only a short intermission (I’ve had a cough for the last week), but I was riveted for the entire thing. I spent most of the time focused on Gillian, but the other roles were just as well performed. I wish I could see it again, to catch the nuances I missed. I’ll have to find a recording and re-watch it.

After the show, a bunch of us lined up to meet Gillian and get an autograph. Most of the folks around me were talking about the fandom, X-Files, meeting the actors at cons, etc.; these were my people! But I was tired and too shy to introduce myself or talk at length. I wasn’t exactly nervous; excited, sure, but I kept my cool.

I think I've added years to my life simply by basking in her glow for 10 seconds.

I think I’ve added years to my life simply by basking in her glow for 10 seconds.

When it was my turn, I gave Gillian my playbill to sign and said, “Thank you! You’re amazing, really, thank you so much,” and made eye contact and smiled. She was very sweet and thanked me in return, and that was that. The staff were moving people along at a good clip, and to be honest, all I could think was she must be exhausted, and how wonderful is she for coming out to sign after that performance?

Gillian is breathtaking in person, but Streetcar showed me what depth she has as an actress. I hate to say it, but the latest season of The X-Files doesn’t deserve her. If they do agree to a season 11, I hope the writers get their shit together and give her more to work with than “alien DNA, alien DNA, alien DNA”.

I am so glad I had the chance to see the play and meet Gillian in person; truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and a big item crossed off my bucket list.

Impromptu NYC Road Trip!

My mom is a pretty regular traveler in retirement; between her Road Trek and her little yellow Honda Fit, she spends a fair amount of time on the road. She’d planned a trip to visit a friend in New York in mid December, and thought some company would be nice.

Tim, being the amazing person that he is, and without prompting, suggested I go. He’d take care of the kids and the dogs and the house for the week so I could hang out with Mom in the city.

In related news, I’ve nominated him for Husband of the Year.

So we were off! First stop: Boston, to visit my brother and his fiancée for a night. Fanueil Hall’s tree and light show were pretty, but we reserved judgment until we’d seen Rockefeller Center so we could compare.

Our visit to NYC was wandering in Grand Central Station, an evening in Times Square, dinner and cheesecake at Junior’s, the lights at Rockefeller, and a quick walk through St. Patrick’s. I hadn’t been to the city since I was a kid, so I found it amusing that everything was smaller than I remembered.

Best of all was spending time with Mom. It’s been a rough year for everyone, and being as busy as I am with work and the kids and Tim, it’s too easy to take her proximity for granted. I’m lucky to have a parent who is also a friend, and I hope I’ll have a similar relationship with my kids when they’re older.

We’ll get to repeat this trip when we go down to see Streetcar in May!