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Starbuck Fix

There came over the transom the other day a notice from esteemed publicist Lucy Pollack about a one-time-only reading of Orson Welles' Moby Dick Rehearsed at the Bootleg Theatre (formerly the still-lamented Evidence Room). The unknown script, the cast rife with favorites, and the presence of one of the friendliest lobby bars in town commanded attendance. It was free and open to all, not that this stopped me from calling Lucy and seeing if there was a list my co-worker and I could be put on because, well, our lives are small and showing up on lists makes us feel special. I missed the part about the 9 p.m. curtain on a school night but being on the cultural edge makes its demands.

I'm not here to talk about the show because director Rob Adler just wanted to get it up on its feet and take a look at it. (And it looked like it's on its way to being quite something, though you didn't hear that from me.) What was most enjoyable about the experience, though, was the abandonment of any sort or obligation to judge. Whether I'm writing the review for a show or not, most evenings at the theatre are spent concocting incomplete sentences and the occasional wry observation out of habit, and because one at least wants to be prepared for any subsequent conversations on the topic, of course. Critics aren't often invited to the preliminary stages of a show and what a pleasure it is to just let the experience wash over you without the bother of trying to figure things out. If something was inadvertently funny, so be it. If a convention isn't working, let it go. If the whalers start to sound and act like pirates on a Disney ride, enjoy it. And when it's over, there's time to socialize without the need to tell anyone "That was good! No, really!" or, more likely, scurry away into the night.

Small digression: I may have witnessed the solution to the what-do-I-say-after-the-show problem. Not too long ago, I attended a deplorable show with a rambling script and flaccid direction. Someone I knew but slightly was there, and I couldn't figure out why she had nothing better to be doing that evening. She knew the writer, I discovered, and I spent the second act wondering what on earth she was going to say about so clearly misguided an effort. The lights go up, the smiles are lit, and in the lobby I saw this person warmly embrace the writer and trumpet, without an ounce of insincerity, "My dear, that was a piece!" Of what, of course, went undescribed. I shall be using that phrase from now on.

Back to the topic at hand, it was a glorious thing to see a show and feel no compunction whatsoever--in fact, it would have been bad form to try--to analyze a thing. I couldn't have enjoyed it more.

--Wenzel Jones

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