Theatre Review: Love and Information

My friend and I watched the Sacramento premiere of Love and Information by Caryl Churchill tonight, at the Capital Stage Theatre. With only four rows in a semi circle around a small stage, the theatre contributes to the intimate feel of the play, with the actors coming in and out of the doors and from back stage.

The set design was simple: a series of panels and boxes set at varying distances from the back; when the theatre lights were up, the panels showed large, square brick-like tiles in shades of blue. When the lights went down, the panels radiated with large electrical conducting lines  in glow-in-the-dark paint: they were now broken panels of a motherboard. As the play progressed, the actors would move boxes around, set up little areas of activity, and then just as easily, move them away. It was choreographed beautifully, like a dance.

The play opened with two actors dressed like teens, pouring over a pulp magazine, trying to outdo each other on the facts they know about a favorite actor. Their desperate desire to be the one who knew more poured out of them, the frustration, the final acknowledgement that they would have to go back to the magazine for more and more trivia raised laughter from the audience, but was ultimately sad. Vignette upon vignette followed, and I quickly realized that this was the play: slice of life scenes of actors, either in pairs or groups, or on their own, walked on and off the stage, showing the various ways that people try to communicate with each other, try to find commonalities. There were so many of these: misplaced memories, an alzheimer’s patient with no memory of his wife who was trying desperately to remind him of the special love they had had for each other, people with mental disorders trying to share their deepest thoughts with people who couldn’t quite understand, old lovers reminiscing about their long past romance, neither of them remembering anything about what the other said.

At various times, a silent, still man would show up on the left of the stage with his back to the audience, with people coming up behind him, trying to reach him, with no avail. A similar scene played out on the right side of the stage, this time with a silent, still woman, her misery and depression showing in her stance, arms hugging herself, protecting herself from everyone and the world. There was a scene in a gym, with two men working out, one man trying to convince the other that his fascination with his virtual girlfriend was normal and completely acceptable. The other man’s face and voice showed his escalating frustration beautifully. Another scene with a woman crying over a news bit on her computer feed about babies dying, drowning, failed to incite any reaction in her husband who, after trying to take in what she was telling him, turned back to his smartphone, unfeeling.

What stood out was the fast pace with which the play moved: at one point, I looked at my watch and we were already an hour in. The relentless nature in which the vignettes poured onto the stage made me think of my newsfeed on my computer or smartphone. There was always something else to look at, something else to either be disgusted at, people to be bored with or fascinated by, no real satisfaction or a resolution, because then we were off to the next scene. And isn’t that just how we feel now?  Our news and social connections are lightening fast, quick and brief, requiring only a limited attention span, and in the end, we feel unsatisfied, disjointed, disconnected when we are virtually connected to everything, but in reality, nothing.

At the very end, there is a man rattling off trivia questions to his girlfriend, and she’s responding with what I assume are the right answers in a machine-gun manner, frenzied and excited. He interrupts the flow of questions with one of his own: “Do you love me?” and she snaps at him, “Don’t do that!” After a slight pause, he continues with the trivia questions, and she continues to give the answers, but then she turns to face him, and I say under my breath, just as she does, “I do.”

And that was it. It was done. A connection was made, and it was enough.

I didn’t like the play. But as I walked away from the theatre, and as I drove home, explaining it to my boyfriend on the phone, the words tumbling out of me, the meanings of each vignette sinking in, layers upon layers, I realized that it made an impact.

It connected with me.

 

Capital Stage Theatre
2215 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95816

 

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Venue Review: Bows and Arrows

It is hard to categorize this place, which is why I titled this piece “Venue Review.”

An odd concept: clothing (some new, some consignment) for sale up front, the a large empty space (for performances), local artist endeavors on the walls, a lounge/cafe selling some alcohol, soups, salads, sandwiches, and then an adorable patio out back.  It all seems oddly disjointed, and I never feel quite comfortable enough when I go there.

I’ve attended a couple of events there over the past few months, most recently to watch a friend’s husband’s trio perform.  It seems to be a popular space for local writing groups or performance artists to use for their events, and I look forward to attending more events there in the future.

1815 19th St
Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 822-5668

Restaurant Review: Seasons 52

I recently attended a low-key, understated, yet elegant affair hosted by Yelp at Seasons 52 to welcome in the Fall food selections on their seasonally-changing menu.  It was such a treat to be able to mingle with the other elite members, have conversations that lasted beyond a quick hello, and to not have to defend myself from flying elbows and spilled drinks.  Keeping the guests to 70 or so elites made this a relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable event, one that helped showcase the beautiful and intimate banquet room we were in.  Wood paneling, rich shades in the carpeting, wood, and muted decorations all made it feel very elegant.  The floor to ceiling windows were left open; though we could see the mall shoppers walk by and look in, it still managed to keep the setting elegant…nicely done, Seasons 52.

I was very impressed, as before, by their knowledgeable and approachable staff, some of whom I remember from prior visits: Michael (serving up the amazing Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli with pesto) and Mingo (clearing the plates and helping out in general).  Passed appetizers included flat-breads (Garlic Pesto Chicken, Trio of Mushroom, Artichoke & Goat Cheese, Blackened Steak & Blue Cheese), Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms (delicious), Tuna Tartare Sushi Rolls, Braised Beef Crostini and Cider Glazed Chicken Skewers.  I enjoyed the Macedon Pinot and made a note of the Viognier, one of my favorite types of wine.

1689 Arden Way
Sacramento, CA 95815

Restaurant Review: Paesano’s

Bocci Balls are delicious. If I had eaten a couple of orders of that and had a second Island Girl Martini, I would have walked away thinking the place was divine.

Regretfully, we had the above while we waited for our to-go order: the kids’ meals: mac and cheese (boring, flavorless, odd yellow color) and the pepperoni pizza (small, doughy, meh). My risotto looked and smelled wonderful…tasted like they had salted it once, and then salted it again. I was so disappointed…choked down a couple spoonfuls and then had to run for water. The garlic bread that accompanied the mac and cheese and my risotto was completely lacking the garlic. Which I know they have plenty of, since the Bocci Balls were soaking in the stuff.

I was expecting a lot better for the price…the service was great, the ambiance was fine, the kids felt welcomed, but in the end, the food is what makes you want to return. May try the happy hour at the midtown location (for the Bocci Balls) and give the chain another try.

8519 Bond Rd
Elk Grove, CA 95624
(916) 690-8646

Review: Downtown & Vine

This little wine bar occupies a beautiful space in the pedestrian mall area of K street downtown.  This is a welcome addition to the area, a perfect spot to grab a drink before a movie at the IMAX across the way.  There is a parking garage right next door, so if you don’t grab street parking, you still don’t have far to walk (the garage is spendy…for 2 hours, I paid $14).I attended the Yelp Wine tasting event here last night, with a large group of people.  Good mix of wine connoisseurs and relative newbies; we all got great treatment from the staff.  Gregg, the owner, went over his and Kate’s reasons for selecting their business, as well as why they chose the various wine regions they represent in their collection.  

We were given pours of the following:
2008 Iron Horse Classic Brut sparkling wine (Sonoma).  Did you know that Iron Horse is the wine of choice for American Presidents to serve to visiting dignitaries?  No?  Read more about that here…I was very impressed by the wine, by the way.  http://inside-sonoma.com…
2011 Neyers Chardonnay Carneros)
2010 De Loach Pinot Noir (Green Valley)
2010 Dillian Barbera (Plymouth, Amador County)
2008 Michael Mondavi Family Emblem “Oso” Cabernet Sauvignon

They also gave us little bites of bread, cheese and meat to augment the wine tasting experience.  Delicious.

I was torn between the De Loach Pinot and the Dillian Barbera, but in the end, the Barbera won (I love Barberas, what can I say!)  We also got a 15% yelp check-in discount.

The wine bar is not that large, but the owners have done a great job of making it look spacious: light woods, beautiful white armchairs in little groupings, a long bar along the left as you walk into the main room, a glassed-in room towards the back…all make for interesting vignettes and keep your eye moving around the space.

I look forward to visiting this place again!

Downtown & Vine
1200 K St
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 228-4518

Review: Glenfiddich Tasting at the Citizen Hotel

Glenfid-DICK.  That’s how you say it.  If nothing else, that pronunciation lesson alone was worth the trip to this event.  However, as with any event hosted by Alex, the Yelp community manager (Sacramento), the Glenfiddich Scotch Tasting at the Citizen Hotel was nothing short of classy and amazing.  The location was the perfect setting…the mezzanine above and surrounding the reception desk of the hotel was oddly intimate.  The plush carpeting and dark walls added to the smoking lounge feel, and the tables were set beautifully with platters of meats and cheeses, and tumblers filled with single drams of the four whiskeys we would taste.  A tall glass of water and a surprising addition of a medicine dropper rounded out each place setting.A medicine dropper?  Yes.  Very necessary.  Because that’s how you add water to whiskey.  With a medicine dropper.  And yes, it is now a part of my whiskey tasting accoutrements, accompanying me on my nights out, discretely couched within its plastic sleeve, ready to be whipped out for a quick addition of the perfect amount of water to my dram of whiskey.

We tasted aged single malt whiskeys, from 12 years up to 21, and as the age progressed, so did the amount of water that got added to my whiskey to make it palatable for my sensitive throat.  Water cuts the burn, y’all!  They were all delicious, but I found myself partial to the 12 year old.  

The Glenfiddich rep, Mitch, was appropriately irreverant and unintelligible, as per his scottish heritage, and exceedingly funny.  After the tutorial, he visited all the tables and answered a few more questions, some of which were influenced heavily by the amount of whiskey imbibed earlier, leading to some amusing conversations around our table.

It was all over much too soon, within an hour, but of course, the party was just getting started for my table mates….I however, was a good girl and went straight home.  

Thanks, Yelp and Alex, for another delicously extravagant experience.

The Citizen Hotel
926 J St
Sacramento, CA 95814

Review: Seasons 52

Arden Fair Mall.  

Alex Lane, Yelp Community Manager (Sacramento), performed a small miracle there yesterday.  

He was able to get a large group of fun people to attend a Yelp Elite event there.  And managed to do it with his usual understated, classy, effortless panache.

Honestly, that was the only reason I ventured into the area; the promise of another fun event hosted by Alex.  And I stayed because I was pleasantly surprised by the casual elegance of the restaurant, Seasons 52, and its welcoming and attentive staff.  From the servers pouring the drinks, to the ones walking around the appetizers, all of them were uniformly polite, sweet, attentive, and genuinely interested in making our experience memorable and enjoyable.  The patio was beautifully decorated and the glass panels strategically placed along the half wall separating the patio from the sidewalk worked perfectly to keep the traffic noise out and the sounds of the party in.  The heat lamps worked almost too well…I had to move away from under a couple because they were getting uncomfortably warm.  Strategic positioning on my part was all that was needed!

The appetizers were so delicious: I tried the stuffed mushrooms, the chipotle shrimp quesadillas (never-ending supply!), and the artichoke pesto flatbread.  

After the event, we moved into the main dining room and had dinner and dessert.  Tierra and Bryan, our servers, were extremely helpful, explaining the vision behind the restaurant, talking about the meals being under 475 calories each, and pouring tastes of their favorite wines for us.  The desserts were the highlight of my dinner: little works of art displayed in shot glasses…I wanted all of them.  

One small but exquisite touch: after we were seated, Tierra asked us if we wanted black or white napkins.  I have NEVER heard of a restaurant doing this, and I’ve been to some phenomenal ones all over the world.  So impressed.  Why?  Because if you are wearing a dark skirt or dress, as I was, the white linen napkins leave a lint residue on your clothes, and to avoid that, they offer black linen napkins.  

Effortless, and classy.

Count on seeing me again, Seasons 52, and with my posse!

Seasons 52

1689 Arden Way, Ste 1065
Sacramento, CA 95815