Sunday, July 07, 2013

Appointment With Death (there will be spoilers!)

"There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me.  She looked at me and made a threatening gesture,  now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate.  I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me.  The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went.  Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threating getsture to my servant when you saw him this morning?  That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise.  I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra." [The Appointment in Samarra, retold as The Appointment in Petra in Appointment With Death]
Friday night the family went to Theatre in the Round to see Agatha Christie's Appointment With Death. Despite a bit of a weak cast - I really hate saying that, having once done quite a bit of acting myself, so you know when I say it I'm likely serious about something lacking in a performance - Molly Pach Johnson as Sarah King and Scott Keely as Dr. Theodore Gerard, the two most vocal parts, were both very good.  Molly was very good as Helena in All's Well That End's Well that we saw earlier in the season. And Muriel J. Bonertz as the domineering Mrs. Boynton scared me, so an incredibly good job on her part.  I believed she was capable of such malice that she'd off herself to leave her children domineered and cowed even after her death.  Amusingly, at least to me, I found the relationship between Dr. King and Raymond Boynton more believable because his more wooden delivery could be interpreted as deferring to a stronger female character.  First his mother, and then Dr. King.  Similarly, Ginerva seems destined to move from being under the thumb of one domineering character to another. Only Nadine and Lennox seem to find a new balance of power that's more egalitarian in their lives.

The play has quite a few changes over the book.  A major one is that there's no end-game explanation of what happens to the characters, which apparently is spelled out in the book, each of the children going on to lead happy lives.  And there was an interesting discussion post play as we left.  Eryn (age 10) and I were convinced that Dr. Gerard had gone a bit Hannibal on everyone.  I think in the book and the traditional version of the play, Mrs. Boynton is truly conniving and offs herself of her own volition when she discovers she only has six months or so left.  In the end of the TItR production, Dr. Gerard does a little bit of exposition that left me feeling as through perhaps Mrs. Boynton was just fine, and Dr. Gerard had planted the six month idea with Dr. King, who had planted it with Mrs. Boynton, who had offered herself as Dr. Gerard hoped based on a psychological profile, in order that Ginerva would be freed to go with him.  That makes it a much creepier story.

I put a copy of the play on hold at the Dakota County Library so I can do a bit of mental contrast and compare.

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