Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Just for the Halibut: Humble Pie with a Side of Tears

It happens, we’re both busy and although we share an apartment – we’ve resorted to appointments to see each other. So Thursday night Linds and I had one of our monthly dates. DC staple 1789 restaurant seemingly opted out of restaurant week last August, but fear not bargin hunters, they offer a $40 pre-fix menu (over $100 value) for the entire summer. But Thursday was their last day so we started our evening there. Neither of us has been, but every hot shot and big wig inside the beltway claims this Georgetown spot as one of their favs, so you can see why it was imperative these two no-name ladies make a reservation there right?

Converted from an old G-town townhouse – you walk into the restaurant on the street level. Below is a whole separate restaurant/bar Tombs (owned by the same Clyde’s group.) Stepping over the threshold you are immediately transported to the look and feel of colonial America, complete with formal china and shaker chairs. We were the first ones there at opening and seated right away. The pre-fix menu is essentially the regular menu – but less expensive. So from the list of entrees including rabbit, strip steak, and six varieties of fish I chose with a first course of scallops and main course of halibut. Both were hearty, and delicious – made from fresh ingredients, I could tell. But it was the desert that bumped this restaurant to the top of my list. I had the (White) Peach and blueberry buckle with peach ice cream. (I put the White in parentheses because Lindsey’s menu omitted the ‘white’ so she though I was embellishing my description to be posh.) P.S service was impeccable!

After dinner we rushed, yes, rushed, over to the Arena stage, where we had tickets to see Jane Anderson's Quality of Life. Knowing very little about theater – the hook for me was that Anderson is also the writer of It Could Happen to You and Mad Men. Lindsey seemed to recognize the four main characters, all having experience on Law and Order, but that’s like saying a pop star was on Mickey Mouse Club. Beans to me. But let me tell you this – if the word ‘life’ is in the title – brace yourself for a downer. I buffered myself with Chardonnay during dinner. But this was a really doozie.

It’s a story of two couples – an archetypal Midwestern one and the stereotypical hippie duo living in San Francisco. The wives are cousins, but they are connected on more profound level – both couples literally are in rubble.

While the Pollyanna-esque Dinah from Ohio is dealing with the loss of their daughter at the hands of a psychopath murder, Jeannette, the Janis Joplin of the show, is losing her husband to cancer and already lost her home and cat in a California wildfire. Over the course of a weekend they rekindle their bond while navigating their shared recovery. Yes – there is a whole lot of crying and not just from the actors. But Jeanette makes us burst at the seams with her biting sarcasm and wit. Like I said – I’m not a theater snob -so my gage on acting is the point I realize the actors have made the characters real for me – and I believe they are one and the same. If that is the measure the acting was superb. I felt like a voyeur in this snapshot of misery. The play was beautiful, but dark and deep, not really my style of entertainment. Still, let me offer another review arguing the other side of the coin: DCIST REVIEW 

Quality of Life runs through October 18 at Arena Stage in Crystal City. Tickets are available online.

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