Thursday, March 19, 2009

life is a cabaret, old chum

I saw Natasha Richardson in Cabaret in New York quite a few years ago. It was a wonderful birthday present from a friend who was able to get us discounted tickets because of her current theater-related job. We saw it at Studio 54, which was tricked up to look like a real cabaret, with decadent-looking waitresses taking your drink orders throughout the performance. I was most excited walking into the theater at the prospect of seeing Alan Cumming as the Emcee and he exceeded all my expectations and then some, working the stage and the audience with impish glee. My most pleasant surprise of the evening was Richardson. I didn't know what to expect and she was wonderful - beautiful, singing well, and bringing a real edge to the character. After the show, while we were waiting outside the theater to catch a glimpse of Cumming, Richardson came out quite quickly, was gracious talking to the waiting folks, and then quietly grabbed a cab. A New York moment.

Right now I can only think of what her family is going through and especially her kids. And the irony of Liam Neeson playing a shattered widower and single parent in the silly ensemble piece Love Actually, who now has to take on the role in his real life. I was never an existentialist. I don't sit around and ponder why we must be born to die, etc., etc., or the absurdity of life when my time could be better spent living. I do from time to time regret that life seems to be so filled with the things we don't want to do, but seemingly have to do, in order to grab moments of the things we really want to do. When someone dies in this manner, before their time, it always underlines for the rest of us how precious and fleeting life is. An accomplished actress, Richardson would have been all too familiar with these lines from Macbeth:

SEYTON
The queen, my lord, is dead.


MACBETH

She should have died hereafter;

There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

All my best wishes to her family.

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