Quote of the Day: It is the character who is willing to bare it all, to risk going against the norms of society, who has the best chance of a happy ending. Summary of what I observed from watching The Primrose Path at The Guthrie Theater, and from the discussion with the actors after the show.
Image from The Guthrie Theater, photo by T. Charles Erickson. Jim Stanek as Mikhalevich, Christian Bardin as A Maid from Mtsensk
Music is a central theme of The Primrose Path, a new play by Crispin Whittell. The composer, Wayne Barker, wrote the music for this show, which is moving and captivating, with sad undertones, and at times, humorous. Tom Bloom, who portrays the private music instructor Christoph Lemm, plays much of the music live on stage, giving us (the audience) a feeling of being in the parlor with the family and their guests. Music is an emotional creative outlet, a vehicle for finding one’s voice, literally and figuratively, as some of the characters in this play are trying to do.
The Primrose Path is a play based on the Russian novel Home of the Gentry by Ivan Turgenev, published in 1859. The playwright, Crispin Whittell, is British and wrote this play for The Guthrie Theater, an American stage with national standing. Does this play have an identity crisis? Maybe. Some of the language and much of the setting give you the feeling of a distant time and place. The costumes are incredible, very much period dressings.
“It’s a poofy dress kind of play,” I told my sister as we were driving into the city. “I love poofy dress plays,” she responded.
It’s also a play that digs into what is truly important in life, a timeless theme. Some of the language and actions seem very modern. What was Maria doing with a plastic bubble blower in 1845 Russia? And, what of the music that had a classic feel although it was written specifically for this play here in the year 2013? Maybe what Whittell and the director Roger Rees are trying to do is show us (the audience) that we are connected to the past. While fashions change, the need to control our environments (and sometimes each other) doesn’t. From the time the first humans were born on this earth, they have been searching for the best way to live out this, relatively, short life, to love freely, to pursue one’s deepest desires, and to make a splash that gets people’s attention.
Or, maybe, it’s just fun to spend Mother’s Day with my sister watching a “poofy dress” show, listening to new music that feels familiar, and dream of what could happen if we dared.
The Primrose Path is playing on The Guthrie’s Wurtele Thrust Stage through June 15. Go to The Guthrie for show times and tickets!
(Here’s what I really wanted to write for my review.) It’s pretty good. I think you should go, and see for yourself what works, what doesn’t, and what you’d dare to do given the right circumstances. Anyway, that’s what Millie and Willie Cottonpoly (sock puppets) would say. I heard Millie sigh when it was over. That’s always a sign of a good play.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: What would make you bare it all and jump into life with arms wide open?
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Interesting mix of culture and country in that play. And performing the music live is gutsy.
Thanks for the great show! Fabulous actors, music, visual delights, a message we all need to be reminded of often,…and of course, poofy dresses.
I love the fact that music was involved. Great post and a joy to read.
Plays/movies from a ‘distant time and place’ pull me in like a magnet. I don’t think it’s possible for a Russian to write anything without a streak of melancholy. It’s in their national DNA.
But bubble blowers have existed for centuries, not plastic, of course, but otherwise contrived. Marie Antoinette had one while a child in Vienna and later, as Queen, in Paris.
And that ‘ice tsunami’ made everybody’s eyes pop. I feel sorry for those people, losing everything. Minnesota definitely needs a break from the weather!
Yes, Alex. I was thinking about how much pressure it would be to sit at the piano and play during the live performance.
Joy, can you imagine how much material they needed for each of those dresses?!
Yvonne, Thanks, it was a great show.
Kittie, I think you’d like it. I didn’t know bubble blowers have been around a long time. Although, the wand looked like a blue plastic one that my kids have used. Still, the images in the play were captivating.
A “poofy dress play”… *giggles*
I love that description Mary!
What a wonderful and special “sisterly-bonding” occasion…
Writer In Transit
Poofy dress play….love that description. Would be one I’ve love to see with DD