A couple of weeks ago, friend devtob and I took a quick trip to the Big City of New York. It was primarily to see the play War Horse at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center. I had been trying to get to New York to see the play for almost a year. Plans fell through each time I made them. So when I found out the play would be closing on Jan. 6, I had to go -- no excuses. Devtob wanted to go as well so we had a plan.
We drove from New York's Capital City to Poughkeepsie because it is far cheaper to take Metro North from Poughkeepsie than Amtrak from Albany. The train ride was relaxing and scenic, despite the fog on the river.
More below the squiggle.
Our first stop of the day was the Lower East Side for the Kossack New York City Meet-up brunch, organized by the wonderful sidnora While our time there was short due to our need to get to Lincoln Center for the matinee, a lively conversation was had by all.
There is nothing like sitting down with people you have never met before and launching into in-depth discussions about politics. Hot topics at my end of the table were the New York State Senate snafu and US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand -- is she great or is she really, really great?
Alas, we could not stay long because we had to meet my son -- a theatre tech at the Beaumont -- who had our tickets and would stash our luggage while we watched the show. So we rushed back onto the subway for the trek north.
And that is where Scott Brown came in. We got to the box office area to meet my son very early, long before the lobby was open to the public. Scott Brown was there, too. He was wandering around the box office area in his "Scott Brown United States Senate" campaign fleece. Maybe he wanted to be sure the theatre crowd knew he was the REAL Scott Brown, not just a guy who LOOKED like Scott Brown.
He walked around like a guy who thought the rules didn't apply to him. He unhooked a velvet rope that blocked off the bathroom and went in. Devtob was reprimanded for doing the same five minutes later, Senator Brown presumably was not.
Thankfully, for many reasons, he is soon-to-be-former-Senator Brown. We couldn't find him once the house opened and people took their seats, but I am sure he was down in front and not in the cheaper seats in the back with people like us.
I didn't read the War Horse book nor did I see the movie, and having seen the play I am glad I didn't. The play is spectacular -- visually stunning and without a doubt the best thing I have ever seen on stage in the 45-plus years I have been attending live stage performances.
Through the eyes of Joey the horse we see the horrors of World War I and, by extension, all wars.
Battle scenes look as if someone quickly sketched them in pencil, large strokes suggesting movement and chaos. Lights and sounds are used effectively to put us in the middle of the action.
The horses themselves are life-sized puppets made of fabric, bamboo and aluminum strong enough to carry a person on top as a rider. They are given life by three actors, one on the outside looking like a groom leading a horse, who animates the head, and two inside who make Joey walk, gallop and rear up. The actor at the head flicks Joey's ears, pins them back in fear and bends his head down to peacefully eat grass.
The two actors in the body not only allow the horses to move around, they also animate fully articulated horse legs. The three actors give voice to the horses, from the softest whinny to cries of terror.
After 10 minutes you don't see them as puppets with people moving them -- you see living, breathing horses.
For all its horrors, War Horse is not without some funny and touching moments. It is about fear, misunderstanding, bravery and overcoming impossible odds.
I cannot recommend War Horse more highly. For those who can make it, it is at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center.
Which brings us to the Giant Chicken. Only in New York City can you leave a fantastic performance like War Horse and see a man dressed like a Giant Chicken in the subway. Not a Giant Chicken selling some chicken-related fast food -- quite the opposite. He was a Giant Chicken wearing signs demanding we "STOP THE WAR ON ANIMALS" and "GO VEGAN!"
I love New York.