Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Band's Visit

Months ago, I was thrilled to see that the musical The Band's Visit, which I'd tried to see in NYC but was sold out, was coming to Toronto. I bought a ticket for this Saturday's matinee. On Thursday afternoon I had a runny nose and by that night a full-blown cold. Friday, self-pity and coughing, filling an entire waste paper basket with Kleenex, tossing all night long. Today I was sure I'd be too sick to go to the show.

But - it's hot out! It's like a gift, the sun, the whole city out soaking up every moment. My upstairs tenant Robin went to Cherry Beach to sunbathe and swim. I sat out baking the germs in the sun, took an Advil and lots of throat lozenges and hopped on my bike. Luckily my ticket was on the aisle at the very back, so as I coughed discreetly and sipped my water I didn't bother anyone.

It's a gorgeous piece of work - haunting, slow, quiet, the antithesis of what you think a Broadway musical will be. I'd loved the movie and I loved this theatrical adaptation, would gladly see it again. The music is wonderful, the setting, the actors, who are also all musicians - and the story, not about Israeli and Egyptian tensions, as you think it will be - this story of an Egyptian orchestra stranded by mistake in a small Israeli town - but about how difficult it is to be alive, how much we all want to be loved and heard, the deep wound at the core of us all. Profoundly moving, the best kind of theatrical experience, that sits forever inside your soul. Deep deep respect and gratitude to all involved. Ten Tony awards rightly given.

Thank God for something beautiful, because these past days have been devastating. Even people I consider friends have turned into self-righteous judges; Trudeau is attacked viciously from both right and left. He should have known better! He's a hypocrite! Etc. Etc.

Look, we know he's a lightweight. We know he likes the limelight, selfies, maybe he's vain, a show-off. But can we please remember he has done lots of good things? Can we look at who is waiting to replace him if we all throw up our hands because he's a flawed human being? The very soul of my country is being tried right now, being weighed in the balance, and the other side, the bad side, has a huge amount of far right money pouring in from the States and Alberta to make sure our decision goes their way. The relentless pile on from media and social media is beyond appalling, JWR all over again. Hyenas. Vultures.

What decent human being would want to be a politician in the world now, with every event of a life, past and present, under a microscope, with every pundit presenting an opinion about everything? I think of FDR with his crippled legs and his longterm affair, protected by the media. Despite his brilliance and powerful social conscience, I'm sure he'd take one look at the disgusting scrum of the current political climate and choose to do something else with his life.

So I'm heartsick but not too physically sick. A one day bug, I hope. This weather is due to continue all week. They're warning of a long hard winter, but right now, we're living under a blessed sky. May the hearts and minds of my fellow citizens also see the light.

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