at the theatre: the common pursuit

I did something at the theater the other night that I haven’t done in a very long time, I left at intermission.  It’s not that there was anything particularly egregious about the current off-Broadway revival of Simon Gray’s The Common Pursuit at the Roundabout Theatre’s second stage, it’s simply that I while I was supposed to be engrossed in the earnest navel-gazing of a group of Cambridge, England confreres I found myself unable to stop my mind from drifting off to thoughts about whether or not I had left in the dry cleaning or if there was enough milk for morning coffee. When the act break finally arrived my own insubstantial intellectual pursuits appeared vastly more consequential than what was happening onstage and so I left, wondering to how many other people the possibility of a stove left lit in any empty apartment suddenly occurred. 25-odd years ago The Big Chill made it safe, even fashionable, to obsessively scrutinize the idealistic slide from who we think we are to who we turn out to be and Mr. Gray’s play – having arrived from England in 1985 – is at one with that gestalt. But either my patience has grown thin or the years have not been kind to any artistic endeavor which features people of privilege extolling the possibilities of what might have been while whining about the roads they didn’t take. Collectively we’ve all briefly indulged in that pity party – especially if you’re of an age (like me) which today might kindly be called grown up. But we’ve matured, haven’t we? Events of the last generation have taught us to get on with it already: there’s little point in dwelling on the past when tomorrow might never happen. Or as my mother might say, “you’ve made your bed – now lie in it.”

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