Monday, October 10, 2005

Arts Galore: Wilde, Saint Saens, McCall-Smith

Attended a pleasant production of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" at the Monmouth College Theatre Saturday night. The director was a student and acquitted herself admirably. The pace was bright, most of the lines were spoken crisply, and traffic management was efficient. The young players kept things moving, but Lady Bracknell was a great ball of fire from the word go. Costumes still uneven--especially for the men--and some prop gaffes that should have been caught like white sherry and tea, and bread and butter sandwiches that were slabs of Wonder rather than dainty squares.

Quad City symphony on Sunday afternoon. Dynamic young Schumann player and then Saint Saens great Organ Symphony. This is a work that just can't be caught on a CD. In a nice hall with a good orchestra and a full power pipe organ, you can feel your fillings vibrate. Moving stuff.

Finished off Alexander McCall-Smith's Friends, Lovers, Chocolate on Sunday evening after a pleasant return to P.D. James' The Murder Room on "Mystery" on public TV. No desperate housewives for us.

This is McCall-Smith's second book about the muted cerebral adventures of Isabel Dalhousie--a well heeled resident of Edinburgh and the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics. The author flirts effortlessly through Scottish weather, city geography, gourmet food, philosophical bon mots like St. Augustine's classic statement on chastity "not just yet", medical musings (the slim plot involves a heart transplant patient and the possibility of cellular memory), and various other dips into the life of the mind and the life of the emotions. Ms. Dalhousie has to juggle her relatives, her friends, her potential emotional entanglements, and her philosophical journal while dealing with her often unfortunate desires to help others. She discovers just as Mma Ramotswe did in the African series that a lot of folks who ask for advice, don't actually want it at all. But when all is said and done our coupon cutting philosophical tyro doesn't cut it. No one in the book including the main character excites you and moneyed Georgian Edinburgh just doesn't seem to have the warmth and love generated on all sides by Mme. Ramotswe and her African cohorts.

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