Saturday, February 28, 2009


I went to the theatre twice today--a matinee of the Martha Clark dance narrative, Garden of Earthly Delights, and tonight, Blithe Spirit. Garden of Earthly Delights, based on the Hieronymos Bosch painting, traces humankind's fall from innocence into corruption and then ultimately into an ascendancy or transfiguration back to our higher nature. That was my interpretation, anyway. But I'm not sure if the choreographer/director wanted her audience to consider the possibility of achieving this last transformation on this earth or after we leave it. It's a question, oddly enough, that carried over quite nicely to this evening's performance of Noel Coward's farce, Blithe Spirit, in which a husband is faced with the ghost of his dead wife who comes to visit him after a seance and causes havoc between him and his second wife. Love, the absolute pull of it, is what brought her back, the medium explains, and the ghost herself admits that she missed him terribly. The ghost is the same charmingly troublesome person she was when she was alive and ends up inadvertently causing the death of the second wife who comes back to haunt the husband as well. It's all very funny, of course, but the moments where we see the longing that reaches from one world into the next and where husband and wife carry on  their quarrels even after death are more than just farce.
I thought about depravity this afternoon after the matinee--about the way people destroy one another in both large and small ways. I felt profoundly sorry for my Mr. Ex. He hurt the people who loved him most and it may be a very long time before he's again regarded with love and respect. And I thought, too, about what a losing game revenge is and how hard it is to lay down that sword and shield--and how heavy it is if you keep carrying it.
Tonight, I thought about ghosts and the two that I've experienced. My father came for a quick look at my older daughter a couple of days after we brought her home from the hospital, and my father-in-law (whom I never met in "real" life) came to me in a very vivid dream welcoming me into the family the night our second daughter was conceived.  
In these post-divorce months, I've never been more convinced that Love is a life-altering force. Love is so strong that it can pull our ghosts back to visit us, and it's what saves us from destroying each other and ourselves.  Without it, we are doomed.
I walked back to my hotel after the play tonight--16 blocks and I took it slow, trying to notice the people and the sights around me, and think about all the times I took those after theatre walks with my husband.  Over the years, he and I saw more than 100 plays in New York City, but now the curtain has come down.  It's an odd feeling--a little bit ghostly--but I'm having a wonderful trip without him.
When the curtain came down after Blithe Spirit tonight there was a ghostly image of the playwright lightly hovering on its surface.  A wonderful directorial choice,  and I left the theatre contemplating what I'd like to leave behind in this world,  and what I'll be dragging behind me when I "cross over."  I hope it will be lighter than the giant suitcase, I'll be rolling to Penn Station tomorrow. 

1 comment:

Jules said...

What a lovely essay articulating so many of my own experiences with ghosts over the past 2 weeks. thank you.