it on yoga. Walking north on Third
Avenue Saturday, I felt the smug contentment of someone who’d deep-breathed
himself into nirvana after a session of asanas. Beware of self-satisfaction: the sweaty inner peace I’d
hoped would see me through a bout of shopping before dinner in Chelsea got
shattered as I glanced down Stuyvesant Street. The restaurant Around the Clock had boarded up its doors and
there I was, tripped up again by my old Achilles heel, change. A few weeks back one instructor
waxed wisely about letting go of attachments, an odd presaging of this
unexpected turn. Over the years
I’ve spent a million evenings, and even some afternoons at Around the Clock’s
bar. That restaurant was preferred
spot for an evening meal when my friends and dates could think of nowhere else:
I was a big fan of the carrot-ginger salad dressing and especially their
buckwheat pancakes. Guess that’s
why they say yoga’s a practice.
With landmarks dropping like flies, I’ll get plenty of chances as the
landmarks of my past rudely vanish like missed subway trains.
Still Life (a production of MCC at the Lucille Lortel Theatre) mourning also
shrouds the lives of its 30-something New Yorkers. Carrie Ann is a photographer who hasn’t been able to take a
single shot since the death of her father; Jeffrey, the man she’ll meet and
eventually fall in love with it, has had a hard time connecting due to his own childhood loss
of a parent.
Life leaves no doubt that its author, Alexander Dinelaris, is a smart craftsman
with an especial gift for snarky, clever dialogue. But by its end you come away feeling less the delicate,
complex nature of loss, more the difficult ways that people come to love in a
maddening Manhattan shadowed by 9/11. Loss as a catalyst is intimated, talked about but things seem
to happen at a remove—feelings are tidy, abbreviated, cut off, blunting the
carthartics of genuine pain. I
wanted Dinelaris to dispense with the cleverness, risk breaking our hearts, or
at least inflicting unease, even if it meant wallowing a bit. .
director Will Frears keeps it moving (sometimes too fast, or so it felt during
the play’s last devastating moment) with scenes that flowed like cinema. And he’s cast it wonderfully: Sarah
Paulson, Frederick Weller (the play’s secret weapons, two actors who
consistently elevate anything they’re in), Adriane Lenox, Ian Kahn and
memorably, Matthew Rauch (as a coked up executive), fill in what the
playwright’s left out. With the
rest of the company, they make us listen, and care.