Sunday, January 18, 2009

Aisle Say - Moliere's The Imaginary Invalid

Squeamish on the subject of enemas? Dismissive of the neuroses of hypochondriacs? Slave to the Mt. Olympian dictates of the medical profession? Then I don't prescribe “The Imaginary Invalid” for you. However, if none of this is of consequence and you wish to be enthralled by the most dazzling of sets, gorgeous costumes, impeccable timing, outrageously hysterical dialog and the greatest troupe of actors in Delaware, then behold this masterpiece.
Moliere, one of the greatest writers of comedy in all literature, built the 1672 play on archetypal characters and situations of the commedia dell'arte – Italian street theater. It is fascinating to witness how well the subject matter retains traction today. Physicians are considered ...”hypocrites whose specious babbling offer promises rather than cures.”
Argan (Stephen Pelinski), a chronic hypochondriac, plans to marry off his daughter Angelique (Erin Partin)to a doctor in order to secure permanent medical care for his ever-increasing list of imagined ills. Angelique and Toinette (Carine Montbertrand), the quick witted maid have other ideas.
Argan has chosen the exceedingly dim-witted Thomas Diaforea (Mic Materrese), son of Dr. Diaforea. Materrese generates much laughter with his awkward antics. The actor re-appears in the second act as the hypocritical Dr. Purgatiffe, spouting titanic mock offense that Argan will not agree to the daily doses of enema he prescribes, thereby lining his pockets with gold.
The acting is collectively magnificent. Montbertrand follows her tour de force performance in The Rep's opening production, “The Hostage” with a second stellar and outlandish characterization, reminiscent of Imogene Coca in her zany skits with Sid Caesar. She dazzles the audience in both her accents and her laser quick costume changes.
Michael Gotch is double cast as lawyer Monsieur Shystaire (Say that slowly. The play is ripe with double entendres) and Monsieur Placebeaux, a 17th century EMT. The prop and costume pieces employed by Placebeaux created the same stunning audience sensation as did the song “Springtime For Hitler” in the movie “The Producers” - 300 sets of jaws in the Roselle Center for the Arts thudding to the carpet. Gotch played the part like a man who really gets into his work.
Sara Valentine (Louison), Argan's second daughter, channeled legendary comedienne Fanny Brice portraying her signature character Baby Snooks. Argan accuses Louison of lying and says he must punish her by spanking her with his cane. As she bends down he thinks better of it and ever so delicately taps her. She responds as if she were struck by lightning, screaming bloody murder, just one of the many slapstick gags of this production that continually surprises. z
As Robbins states in the play's program, ...”A play can persuade us, even when everything we face each day seems bleak, that life is actually theatre of the absurd and not tragedy.” In other words, if high health care costs stress you out, treat yourself to this very therapeutic laugh riot. Your heart muscle will benefit.
If I were the artistic director at Cab Calloway, I would be on the phone with The REP's Artistic Director Sandy Robbins pleading for a discount for my kids. Students of theater, lovers of theater of all ages should see this.
Aisle Say abhors “trite”, but is motivated to be so this solitary time: The Rep at the U of D is the state of the “art” in the First State. Til February 4. Call 831.2204 for tix.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A 3rd Financial Revolution Needed for Delaware

So you say you want a Revolution, yeah, yeah, yeah? Delaware has experienced two financial revolutions; 1902 and 1972. Both fundamentally changed the course of our history. We need another one in 2009.
1902 - When the three duPont cousins, A.I., P.S., and T. Coleman bought the 100 year old company, the impact to the state was transcendent. Elderly and infirmed family members wanted to sell the gunpowder works on the banks of the Brandywine to an out-of-state competitor. A I argued that this was his birthright. $2100.00 was the total cash outlay the three whippersnappers paid (attorney fee!); the purchase being in bonds back to the family. That fact, allied with the eventual purchase of the competing company, only added to the legend of this seminal event.
No need to speculate on what Delaware would be without DuPont's presence and philanthropy over 207 years. Ergo...Delaware became the Chemical Capitol of the father had lifetime employment and my dear sister Liz and I grew up in middle class America.
1972 – Another duPont, small “D” - Governor Pete - spearheaded the Financial Center Development Act allowing credit card banks to headquarter here with no cap on usury / interest rates. Ergo...The Credit Card Capitol of the World.
2009 is the time to become The Media Capitol of the US.
Dubai, nestled in the financial crossroads of the Middle East, has created a model whose mission is to become the enabling hub of all things media-relevant in the region, if not the world. It is called Dubai Media City (DMC).
Consider if all land from 4th and Market Streets to include the entire Riverfront became Delaware's “Media City”.
Dubai's vision is to create a world-class environment for every kind of media business, which broadly includes media and marketing services, printing and publishing, music, film, new media, leisure and entertainment, broadcasting and information agencies.
In 1902 the cousins' perspicacity transitioned the company from gunpowder to chemicals. The same visionary thinking was extant in 1972. In Jack Markell we have a non-bureaucratic, “Delaware state of mind”. (First State attributes to The Piano Man).
In Dubai - in this dedicated media zone - all media businesses are given the freedom to create. DMC offers support services, interest breaks on capital improvement, tax-free income, no corporate tax and discounted rentals on office space. Infrastructure considerations include the highest levels of IT and telephony. DMC also offers easy access to decision makers. (That in itself would be a great asset here where “you're only a phone call away”.
Freelancers in the industry are given allowances to reside there. In fact, DMC solicits young, talented workers. They understand that the world – per Thomas Friedman - is flat and that we need the perspectives that people from other nationalities bring. Diversity is strength. This environment creates a synergy of inspiring interdependence amongst all the players.
DMC has a Partner Relations Board which constantly seeks and manages feedback from all media “partners”. They develop business opportunities by staging networking events, they analyze partner profiles to identify new opportunities and they develop and nurture the nature of this media zone.
Delaware gave many concessions in 1972 to entice banks to move here. A decade ago Governor Carper was criticized for the tax breaks he gave Astra Zeneca. Governors duPont and Carper realized that short term controversy is worth long term benefits. Both envisioned where the markets were heading and made the call. We're now in the information age and media is at the forefront.
In this Delaware Media City even the Shipyard Shops could be fully tenanted – for the first time! If Markell and the legislature embrace this idea, we could create the third Delaware Revolution.