Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Great Game

It's a rare opportunity: for a few more days, if you live in New York City, you can catch the Tricycle Theater's moving and informative production of The Great Game: Afghanistan--more than a dozen short plays, along with monologues and commentary, that deal with incursions into that country by foreign empires over the last two centuries.

But it's a tough choice; if you're not willing to devote more than 7 hours plus travel time to seeing the whole thing, which do you opt for: Part I, which deals with the British empire's adventures--19th and early 20th centuries--that give the event its title; Part 2, with the Soviet Union, whose efforts ended up contributing to the union's breakup; and Part 3--you can guess whose turn it is.

Unfortunately, many of the potential audience seem to be electing not to make the choice--not to see any of it--so there are very substantial discounts available: substantial enough that I went to all three in a one-day Marathon.

If you can only go to one, I'd say, go the Part I--odds are it will persuade you to see the rest.

Presented by the Public Theater, The Great Game is at the NYU Skirball Center through Dec. 19.

For tickets, call 212-352-3101 or 866-811-4111, or go to

But first look around for those discounts.

Wisdom from The Hunchback

Saturday evening before the election, I'd expected to be contradancing, but after a day spent campaigning in Allentown for Sestak, one ankle wasn't up to it.

So instead I checked out Turner Classic Movies's Halloween weekend lineup of horror films--and discovered the 1939 version of Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, directed by William Dieterle, and featuring a brave, heartrending, and unforgettable performance by Charles Laughton in the title role.

Though this version takes significant liberties with the novel's plot, the end in particular, it seems true to its spirit, and has much to say about intolerance.

Among its many memorable lines is this, from one of a band of gypsies being attacked as foreigners:

"You came yesterday, we came today."