Friday, November 03, 2017

Marie Christine

A random text message on a Saturday morning from Mr. Spanker inquiring if I might be interested in joining a club in Chicago like the one I used to be a member of in New York. The club helps put you in seats for shows with a fee of basically zero.

"I'm in."

Twenty minutes later I had a text with an offering of tickets to an off-Broadway Chicago production called Marie Christine. Half awake, half amused, recalling a conversation with Calembour only a few days ago about how I wasn't a fan of musicals or musical productions.

The gods do love irony.

Since I had so kindly been gifted Violent Femmes tickets, I returned the offer in kind and ended up with a date for the show on Saturday. We got to the theater early enough to grab tickets and found the best fucking fish place in Chicago in the process as we wandered about looking for a quick lunch.

Having never heard of the show before I had nothing to go on but the most basic abstract: Marie Christine, daughter of a slave and a plantation owner, falls tragically in love with a future Chicago politician. She ends up in Chicago, in love, with two sons and a husband who wants her to disappear, tragedy ensues.

Honestly, there wasn't that much to go on so I wasn't exactly sure what to be prepared for. In a year where I am making more of an effort to connect with my own status as a latina, explorations of culture, race, and identity are high on the list of interest. I probably should have dug a bit more into the story though being unprepared made the entire experience better.

And before I languish in poetic descriptions a quick note on the production: everything you would expect from a fully on Broadway show in a small Chicago theater. An orchestra was tucked into the backstage providing beautiful live accompaniment to the amazing acting and vocal production happening on the stage. Choreography was exquisite, as was the staging. The prop master and costume designer deserve some credit as well. I've paid a couple of hundred dollars to see traveling productions that weren't even close to this well put together though they probably had seven times the budget. This was phenomenal example of what theater can be when everyone puts in their hearts and souls.

Hearts and souls were in the story.

Random internet abstract did not really do justice to the story. Marie is not some childish whimpering half pampered plantation princess with a muddied past and a Juliet future. She is already a powerful, demanding woman, voodoo priestess, seductress, mistress, power embodied female. Fearless and unbound and uninterested, with the flaw that many fearless, unbound and uninterested women sometimes harbor; bottomless capacity to love and to love wrongly.

I see in this woman seduced by the chase, the belief that it is her and not her money or power or small amounts of influence, but her that is the center of the universe for that brief time. Count down time on your fingers, love clock ticking with the loves you desperately believed loved you back for a evening, for several years. What was the root of that commitment in the end but times passage, stories to tell, and memories only one person harbors. Feelings to deep that the pressure looking up from the bottom of a memory well is crushing.

Down there I watch this play, this show and I am wrapped in her enchantments and seductions and desperation for the right decision among wrong decisions. She exits as she enters, a power, older, wiser, but not undone by her entanglements.

And this is a feeling I know.

It was cathartic to watch.

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