Friday, January 25, 2013
What a great evening!
Got together with a good friend I've not seen for a while and we had a fine dinner at Aquitaine in Boston.
Just this past Christmas Eve I was introduced to raclette, a wonderful Swiss comfort food of raclette cheese melted on a table-top grill and poured over fingerling potatoes, cornichons or just small hunks of fresh bread. I was pleasantly surprised this evening to find raclette pissaladiere as an appetizer on the Aquitaine menu. The cheese was melted in the kitchen, not at the table, and poured over small potato slices and duck confit, sitting on a pissaladiere crust. Atop all this was a small salad of arugula. An excellent starter for dinner on a freezing cold night in downtown Boston!
Along with the bread served before dinner came two small, warm cheese puffs made of melt-in-your-mouth goodness.
For an entree I ordered the Dijon crusted swordfish. A large piece of fish arrived, dressed with just the right crust - thin - and just the right mustard flavor. It's a disappointment when too heavy a hand in the kitchen has damaged the goods and overwhelmed rather than complimented the seafood's natural taste. The sword was accompanied by an onion farci, both items served on a bed of ancient grain salade with a kalamata vinaigrette.
With dinner I enjoyed a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, a good match!
I declined the dessert menu so I'll have to wait for another trip to Aquitaine to report on the sweet stuff.
Our reason for dinner in town was that we had tickets to the Huntington Theater Company's production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town in the Roberts Studio Theater at the Calderwood Pavillion (a one minute stroll from Aquataine).
A look at the seating plan for this production will give you an idea of its intimacy with the audience.
With the exception of the one row in the gallery on the right side of the chart, the other seats are virtually on stage, on a slight incline. The cast moves in, out and about through every empty space and aisle you see here. The props are sparse: aside from the last scene in the third act, only two tables, four chairs at each, have a place on stage.
These two photos give an idea of how the space is used. Aside from that last scene in the third act, the house lights are up as you see them here.
This classic American theater piece is a great success in the Roberts venue with this staging. All the voices are natural, nothing's amplified. The immediacy of the cast's presence is far greater than a summer's theater-in-the-round. It's not exaggerating to say that for a few hours, the audience visited Grovers Corners.
To speak of "themes" in Our Town would diminish the depths Wilder plumbs. The play's subject matter is the human experience of life, family, love, community and death. As a preacher, it struck me many times during the evening that this play enters just the places in peoples' hearts where I seek to go in writing a homily.
Given the layout of the theater, half the audience faces the other half the whole time - like monks in choir stalls. What a gift it was to see through the dramatic action before me into the faces of others and to read on them the same questions and joys and sorrows coming to life on stage.
A good evening with an old friend, a fine dinner and a great play! It didn't matter to me how cold it was in Boston tonight - my heart and soul were warm, indeed.
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Posted by Austin Fleming at 6:00 AM