Wednesday, October 1, 2014

33 Variations, Moises Kaufmann at Cotuit Center for the Arts

This is a still from the Broadway production of 33 Variation, a pay by Moises Kaufman.  On B'way it starred Jane Fonda (in photo) as the musicologist studying Beethoven's composition of 33 Variations on a little theme by Diabelli (known as the Diabella Variations).  The story parallels Katherine's discoveries in a Bonn archive with Beethoven's composition while at the same time parallels between her increasing disability due to ALS and Beethoven's final illness are drawn (too obviously for my taste).  I saw it Sunday afternoon at the Cotuit Center for the Arts where I was delighted to discover that it's artistic director, David Keuhn was trained as a classical pianist as a young man but chose a more varied career than that of concert pianist. Throughout the production he played the appropriate variation for the subject being discussed.  I am less than enthralled with the modern day story of mother and daughter although adeptly handled, than I am with Beethoven's struggles with composition and his increasing deafness, his personal irrcrasability. The lead was a weak choice (but in a specific community as Cape Cod is, finding actors with the required skill is VERY  difficult) for the main character.  But overall the rest of the cast were fine as was set, costume and especially mostly astute direction. The tour de force scene was given to Beethoven and the pianist as he talked through his composition of variation 32 - a musical breakthrough. It was beautifully acted I almost had to sit on my hands not to applause as one does a grand aria in an opera -- it deserved bravos.  I talked to another music lover yesterday who said he DID applaud, and was chastized by a friend but was not apologetic for interrupting the flow of the play. And others joined him in applause. I wish I had done the same.  Some plays are written with set pieces just as operas are written with major arias. When briliantly acted (or sung) they deserve to be recognized.  

I don't like overly neat and obvious parallels and I'm saddened when I don't feel real passion in the heart of actors. I wish I could have seen Jane Fonda in this role, although I still wouldn't have been 
happy about the playwright's contrivance.


barbara judge said...

Nice review of an emotional play. Cape Cod has a lot going for it in the arts. -- barbara

June Calender said...

You're right. It's always been a happening place.