THE FLYING LOVERS OF VITEBSK
The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk is a show I’m recommending to everyone! It’s entertaining, historic, musical, delightful, and in one of my very favorite theaters—The Wallis right in the heart of Beverly Hills.
Since Mr. X and I had missed Valentine’s Day (because I couldn’t leave my non-stop Olympics watching,) we just had to attend opening night of this romantic show, produced by England’s Kneehigh company, who brought us last year’s colorful The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips. [Note: I begged Mr. X, who writes a zillion times better than moi, to give me his written review, to incorporate into this one, but he declined. Then, at the last minute, he wrote one as I talk, so for fans of my former TV show, I’ll put some of that at the very bottom of this page, after the theatre’s info. But remember–you have to read it as I would talk it.]
The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk is the story of artist Marc Chagall and his first wife Bella. It’s also a history lesson on the Russian Revolution, (which I’m ashamed to say that, despite my heritage, I know next to nothing about,) and both World Wars, (which I’m also nescient about.) So it was all fascinating to me.
And they get it all done in about an hour and a half, with no intermission. It just moves along from clever visual to even more clever visual. With a few songs and dances along the way. And fabulous performances by Marc Antolin and Daisy Maywood as the flying lovers.
They were joined by two wonderfully-short-named musicians, James Gow and Ian Ross, usually off to the side but in on the action from time to time, of whom Mr. X said: “The fine-tuned musicians supplied occasionally lilting, occasionally ethnic, always appropriate, perfectly-balanced background music with various instruments that did not distract from the action, but exactly complemented it. Onstage but unobtrusive, their added dimension helped charge the entire evening into a seamless impressive arrangement. And their musical curtain call was a well-received sweetener.” Wow. I can only add, “What he said!” (I told you he was better than I!)
The entire show was classy and gentle and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. Since Judaism was a major factor in the lives of the Chagalls, there’s obviously a lot of that in the show. But it never gets annoying and is often charming. (I can use the term “annoying” because, as I’m sure everyone knows by now, I am Jewish, so I’m not maligning my own people—I’m just admitting that a little Yiddish goes a long way.) And no one laughed at the wedding scene more than I did! It’s brilliant! If I had seen just those few minutes over and over again all night, it would have been fine with me. That scene got applause on opening night, when no others did just because they all melded into each other. But the wedding dance deserved it; I almost choked with laughter.
Speaking of the marriage, the promos for the show state that “Marc and Bella Chagall are immortalized as having one of the most romantic marriages of the 20th Century.” But I think that they were Mr. X and my kind of romantic, because we loved it when one of them said to the other, “I want to waste the rest of my life with you.” That’s how we talk to each other. And now that we know what to say officially, we can finally get married ourselves! (But don’t hold your breath—I don’t believe in that state of being. We’ve been together longer than most other show business couples, while attending the same people’s third weddings, so I rest my case.)
Getting back to The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, the performances are wonderful, the couple is balanced, they both have beautiful voices, and we already lauded the musicians. So here’s my favorite part of the whole production—Sophia Clist’s interesting raised and tilted set in the middle of the stage, which features uber-ingenious props! They’re sort-of hidden around the smallish wooden-ish set, and the actors bring them each seamlessly into view when needed. And then they’re equally quickly put away. I couldn’t have loved the visuals more. And some of the accoutrements are used for the couple to get into poses that are seen in Chagall’s paintings.
There was only one confusing aspect to the entire shebang. And that’s—why were they in white face the whole time? Marc looked like the son of Marcel Marceau and Charlie Chaplin! I honestly don’t know what they were going for. I asked a few people, and got these suggestions: “Perhaps for lighting purposes, to get those occasional saturated Chagall-esque tones to read on their faces.” Hmm. And “possibly to show the beaten down-ness of their lives.” Double hmmm. I meant to ask someone from the company at the opening night fete, but was having such a good time that I forgot. So you guys will just have to figure it out for yourselves. (And, if you do have a theory, please share in the Comments section below, until we get to the bottom of it.) [Note: Don’t forget–Mr. X weighs in on the topic, as me, in his little blurb beneath the show info.]
For once in my life, there’s nothing more to say. Except—see this show! And try to go with someone you love.
The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk running through March 11, 2018
Wallis Annenberg Theater For The Performing Arts
9390 N. Santa Monica Boulevard Beverly Hills 310-746-4000 www.thewallis.org
Okay, here’s what Mr. X wrote as me: “Okay, in this show, here were these two guys who just lurked, but they could play instruments. Oh, my God. The piano player especially. I couldn’t really see him so he scared me but one other thing I wanted to tell ya. Oh, yeah. If you’re a set decorator and you like stripped pine branches, you’re gonna love this show. (Whispering) It got a little annoying with all the Yiddish stuff but, I’m sorry, for me, no offense, but that stuff belongs in Nate and Al’s on Shavuot. Anyway, the lead guy, (the lead guy?–the only guy,) had this white stuff on his face, which I spent three-quarters of the night trying to figure out if it was a mistake or what. I thought ‘Did he just forget to dab with a tissue after he powdered, or was it bad lighting in the dressing room, or was it me walking past the bathroom while my mother’s putting on talcum powder?’ ” I guess Mr. X does pay attention to me, after all!