“Physics. That’s the only thing that works like God is supposed to: Fair and constant.”
From the play Emilie by Lauren Gunderson:
Emilie and Voltaire have built “the largest library in Europe… and live in it,” but by the end of Act I, there is discord.
EMILIE: For once consider the idea that you could be mistaken, that you could be fallible in this one scenario, lonely as it may be in the immensity of your usual correctness. Science isn’t theatre, you can’t pick the ending because it sounds nice. Listen to me.
From Act IV:
Dr. Stockmann (with growing fervor). What does the destruction of a community matter, if it lives on lies? It ought to be razed to the ground. I tell you– All who live by lies ought to be exterminated like vermin! You will end by infecting the whole country; you will bring about such a state of things that the wholecountry will deserve to be ruined. And if things come to that pass, I shall say from the bottom of my heart: Let the whole country perish, let all these people be exterminated!
Voices from the crowd. That is talking like an out-and-out enemy of the people!
Billing. There sounded the voice of the people, by all that’s holy!
The whole crowd. (shouting). Yes, yes! He is an enemy of the people! He hates his country! He hates his own people!
Aslaksen. Both as a citizen and as an individual, I am profoundly disturbed by what we have had to listen to. Dr. Stockmann has shown himself in a light I should never have dreamed of. I am unhappily obliged to subscribe to the opinion which I have just heard my estimable fellow-citizens utter; and I propose that we should give expression to that opinion in a resolution. I propose a resolution as follows: “This meeting declares that it considers Dr. Thomas Stockmann, Medical Officer of the Baths, to be an enemy of the people.”
By the way, if you haven’t already nabbed tickets to A Red Orchid Theatre’s Traitor — an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People written by Brett Neveu and directed by Michael Shannon — stop what you’re doing and get them. Elsewhere, I have described it as think-y, inventive, and, well, feckin’ brilliant.
Earlier this week, we celebrated Herman Melville’s 198th birthday by seeing Moby Dick at the Lookingglass. We first saw this gorgeous production in 2015, when Christopher Donahue dazzled as Ahab. Jamie Abelson offers a more restrained portrayal of the monomaniac, but we appreciated his interpretation. Moby Dick runs through September 3. If possible, do not miss this one.
Speaking of missing theatrical events, only one other patron joined us for the National Theatre Live broadcast of Angels in America Part One: Millennium on July 20; we had the theater all to ourselves a week later for Part Two: Perestroika. Sure, the length of these productions — approximately eight hours including intervals over two evenings — is wildly indulgent, and the Fandango tickets were outrageously priced. But wow. What terrific performances, particularly Andrew Garfield as Prior Walter and Denise Gough as Harper Pitt. If Angels is rebroadcast, consider it a good use of your time and treasure.
Other items in the “recently seen” category: I finally saw the last episode and a half of The Handmaid’s Tale. Brilliant. This is one of those rare occasions on which I will assert that the screen adaptation is as good as, if not better than, the book. I also saw and enjoyed Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and 10 Cloverfield Lane, fun, summer-evening films.
Bookish bits next time.