Sunday, May 13, 2012

Einstein on the Beach

Some relationships have to survive rows, lies, and infidelity. Ours had to survive Philip Glass. We made it into Einstein On The Beach, and we came out the other side, five hours later, tired and dying for a pee, but still very much together.

Other couples weren't so lucky. Genuinely, a relationship ended three seats away from us - although it took her about four minutes to storm out along the aisle, squeezing past knees, muttering excuse-mes and shooting back the odd venomous glance. She lingered, hoping he'd come after her, but he stayed where he was, watching as a child Einstein swung above the stage, throwing paper aeroplanes.

My favourite ex, Simon, introduced me to Philip Glass in the 90s, along with futons and "It's not you, I'd just rather move to Houston to design a staircase". We'd sit in bed, listening to "Songs From The Trilogy" while I read a book about spaceships and he pored over a Haynes Manual. I liked the music much I went and got the full operas - but Einstein on the Beach always defeated me.

At the time I lived in a flat with really loud upstairs neighbours who'd keep me awake with band practice till 3 every morning. I'd wake up at 7 and, as I left for work, would put on Einstein on the Beach. Loudly. On a loop. All day. After a week, the cat refused to go near my room, so I stopped. Strange when you look back and think "Ummmm.....".

Anyway, that was a long time ago. And, since then I've seen one Glass opera on stage and it was amazing - so perhaps, Einstein would be just as great live.

Well, it was. Kind of. And it was utterly wonderful and baffling and etc. But, you know, could have been over and done with in about two hours flat without anyone missing a bit. Of course, that's not the point - in the programme notes, Glass hints that the mind-numbing repetition is the idea, and the audience reaction is more important than what's going on on stage - or, in other words, sneaking a smug glance at the couple two rows down who fell quickly asleep in each other's arms, or at the recently-single man three seats away, who sat, rapt and grinning for all five hours and then gave the show a standing ovation. He looked, oddly, like a weight had been lifted from him.

And yes, if you ever get a chance to go and see it, do. And, if you're lucky enough to be in a relationship with someone who'll go with you, take them. If to see if you can make it as far as "Two Lovers" at the end.  Here it is in Lego...

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