Two Numeric Reviews: 800 Words and 7 Brides for 7 Brothers
The play about Philip K. Dick and the Broadway play about lonely Oregonians are completely unrelated, but I managed to see them in the same 24-hour period.
Johanna had arranged to take me to the Chanhassan Dinner Theater. I had never been to this bastion of Scandahoovian gastronomy and terpsichore. But first, some science fiction.800 Words: The Transmigration of Philip K. Dick
was excerpted at Opening Ceremonies at Minicon this year. The ten minute reading worked as a sampler, but didn't do justice to the full production, which runs two hours including intermission. The life of Philip K. Dick was an odd one, especially near the end. Writer Victoria Stewart had to do an enormous amount of reading to catch the flavor of his life: Not only Phil Dick novels, but the works he talks about as influences, notably A. E. Van Vogt (from whom the title derives). Luverne Seifert, in the title role, had precious little actual Phil Dick to look at, but his barely restrained madness rings true.
The acting all around is excellent. While it's unfair to single out any one actor, Kimberly Richardson as Sasha, the cat, is on stage a great deal of the time, acting very feline, even with her dialog.
The stage at the Playwrights Center is superbly used. The rotating floor becomes Phil Dick's office, his car and his imagination. The piles of books around the stage are real sf books, and good ones too.
The play is best appreciated by fans of Philip K. Dick; at minimum you should have read a few of his many books and seen Blade Runner
. Even if you haven't, you'll get something out of the performances.
I don't want to give away any of the plot elements, but you can probably see where the play is headed. How
the internal workings of Phil Dick are revealed is more interesting than what
those inner workings are, since his soul is in his books.
Highly recommended, especially for sf fans. There are six more performances (counting tonight), through next weekend, ending 6/7. Make an effort to go.
The Chanhassan Dinner Theater
is something of an institution for a certain segment of the population of the Twin Cities. It's a huge complex, with four separate theaters, several dining rooms, a gift shop and the Dinner Theater complex contains offices for lawyers and Millie's Bar and Grill. One of Johanna's many nieces/cousins/family had arranged for 38 of us to go see their production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
This review is not at all influenced by Phil Dick. Nope.
The production differed from the film and even other productions, which was generally considered A Good Thing by those in the know. It seems that a supernova was about to engulf Romulus, and that caused a history branch where two of the Seven Brothers understudies had to take the lead roles. The Seven Brothers, running a farm in very rural Oregon in 1850, were without feminine companionship, so the place was a mess and the food was awful. They resolve to get brides by putting on a production of Taming of the Shrew
which they finance by selling too many shares of the play and hope it flops. But when the brothers try out for a chorus line in order to pay the rent, the deformed musician sets up a rumble between the Sharks and the Jets.
The first Bride went over the Alps to escape the Nazis, and was instructed in proper English to pass as a duchess. The remaining brides are adopted by Monsieur Madeleine but forced to work by Fagin. When the show boat leaves town and Elvis is drafted into the army after his appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, the mysterious El Gallo sings about love and September. The Brides determine that you can
get a man with a gun.
And then there was pie. The end.