This post is not really about “The Band’s Visit”, the marvelously unlikely new Broadway musical hit show, enchanting critics and sold out houses.
This is about you, the sad selfish woman sitting diagonally behind me.
You see, about halfway through the performance, you apparently realized that this exquisite exceptional piece of theater was not to your liking.
And sighed again.
Right in the middle of the female lead’s yearning solo number “Omar Sharif”.
And these weren’t sighs of empathetic appreciation.
No, these were sighs of morose malignancy.
The sighs of a bored tactless adolescent during an endless church sermon given in Latin.
Soon to be followed by a contemptuously muttered “Jesus Christ!”
After the sixth or seventh impatient utterance I turned around to face you with my finger demonstratively lifted to my lips.
That shut you up. For a while at least.
Perhaps until that moment your sotto voce peevishness may have been an unconscious reflex, or believed to be so sotto voce that it couldn’t possibly have been heard by anyone in the immediate vicinity.
But after that moment there could have been no doubt that your egregious exhalations were poisoning the atmosphere for others.
And though my silent admonishment silenced you temporarily, alas, it didn’t silence you for good, because about twenty minutes later you were back at it.
Harrumphing seat shifting.
I thought to myself, do I turn around yet again with my finger to my lips, perhaps with extra fire in my eyes? Do I give you a good lecture on audience etiquette after the final curtain call? Do I grab you by the collar on our way out and toss you over the balcony into the emptied orchestra seats below?
Now I don’t blame you for being bored. I can respect that not every work of art can be to everybody’s taste. There are those who care little for “Citizen Kane” or Meryl Streep. A friend of mine once asserted her disdain for Beethoven because he was “too dramatic”. You have a perfect right to your opinion no matter how perfectly pathetic.
Of course a smartly subtle musical based on the dead pan indie movie about lost Egyptians and forlorn Israelis in a no-frills desert town may not be what some would hope for from a Broadway Show! No glitz, no glamour. No garish razz-ma-tazz. The fireworks are those of the soul. Sure, there is jazzy music and clever lyrics, but so deftly folded into Middle Eastern influences and tender humanism you may not have noticed.
You are entitled to your disinterest and ennui.
But you have no right to poison the experience for your neighbors by broadcasting your sad, selfish, immature displeasure like a canister of tossed mustard gas.
I’d tell you to go to hell, but it appears to me you already took up permanent residence there in your own mind.
Fine, too bad for you. But stop working to invite others into that headspace. Believe me, nobody desires to join you there.
But then again, I must accept by your behavior you have no regard for others. Only your own sour self.
And not caring to taint the experience that was clearly enjoyable to most everybody else around us, I refrained from openly lecturing you or tossing you over railings after the performance.
I let you go, and back home I purchased the original score of the show to listen to at will without your sighs and tuts and “Jesus Christs” muddying the arrangements.
Well, I obviously didn’t quite let you go. But I’ll let you go now. After posting this missive.
Then, truly without you, I will more freely and happily enjoy the music and the memory of “The Band’s Visit”.