Center Stage is offering a narrative heavy, but moving and emotional, production of Snow Falling on Cedars. The two act play all takes place on one spare set filled with wooden chairs, a table, and a wardrobe, but through the actors’ storytelling, transforms to boats at sea, a courtroom, strawberry fields, an internment camp, a sandy beach, the hollow of a cedar tree, a town blanketed by snow. As I loved the novel, I was fascinated to see how it could be interpreted as a play. The story is complex and deep, which is why the adaptation apparently needed to rely so heavily on moments of narrative scene setting and backfilling, but it still worked. I was transported, heartbroken, enraged, and grateful – all as I should have been by the powerful story.
An important lesson learned is apparently you do not really want the front row center seats at a play. Our friends, Sandy and Michael, who were lucky enough to have those seats last night, learned they come with a shower of spittle from the actors in soliloquy perched at the edge of the stage, as well as glimpses of parts of the actors’ wardrobes you’d prefer not to see. They left the theater drenched, needing to be disinfected, but laughing and much wiser. Max and I were grateful for our seats in row J, far, far out of saliva range.
Last night felt somewhat like time had folded back on itself and I was in a BC moment (before children). It reminded me of Kurt Vonnegaut’s Slaughter House Five and I was Billy Pilgram learning from the Tralfamadoreans’ that life really is not linear, but rather a ribbon. Our current, future, and past can touch and entangle and in a nanosecond, we can be back to a place and moment we thought was long gone. The ribbon caressed a time, way back in the day, when Max and I had season tickets to Center Stage for many years. Before going to each play, we’d go out to dinner at some oh-so-lovely and not- kid-friendly restaurant in Mount Vernon like Helmand, Akbar, or Louie’s Bookstore and Café . Having dinner at Akbar with Sandy and Michael before Snow Falling on Cedars had the time travel feel. Even the staff who ignored us (with the exception of the water women who made sure our cups raneth over perpetually) and hour and a half wait for our food, couldn’t ugly up the evening but instead became the reason we all laughed so hard that we were nearly involuntarily spilled the water that started in those over running cups.
Today will bring even more theater, but an entirely different experience, as the ribbon slips me back to the present. Thanks to Casey Cares, we are taking the kids to see Shrek at the Hippadrome.
I’m enjoying the sensation of slipping through time and the opportunity it provides for me to revisit an earlier version of me, an earlier version of Max. Reminders. Remembering. Reliving. Living.