April 11, 2002
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A night of failures

The day had been long, frustrating, and difficult long before 7:30, when Linda and I arrived at the Blacksmith's House to hear Bonnie Friedman read from her new book, The Thief Of Happiness: The Story of an Extraordinary Psychotherapy. Bonnie's an old friend of a friend, and while I confess I haven't read the book yet, I'm confident I'll like it. Her first book, Writing Past Dark, is a wonderful look at the writer's constant companions: fear and envy.

The reading was sold out.

Who has heard of such a thing? A sold out book reading? Bonnie's a fine writer, but she's not Lauren Bacall or John Grisham, and this is non-controversial nonfiction. Go figure.

But, it turns out that we have standby tickets for the ART production of Robert William Sherwood's Absolution, which starts in fifteen minutes. We rush over to the Hasty Pudding. We take our seats. I'm not hoping for much from the play, especially since my monumentally foul mood is not well suited to drama, and I've had too much drama lately.

It's wonderful. Lovely writing, reminiscent of Mamet but not imitative. Superb directing. Benjamin Evett, whom Linda and I have seen in productions spanning five or six years, has a scene that's a revelation, acting that makes you sit up and say, "I didn't know he could do that!" while they're changing the set. And it's an interesting play, too, about three men, once high school kids, who did (or may have done) something very bad when they were very young. I think I know where we're going but I'm not sure, and I'm enjoying the trip.

Then, the stage manager comes out and says that there's been an accident, and the show can't go on: one of the actors got hit on the head backstage. Everyone troops out; the stage manager offers to tell people how the play turns out if they want to come upstage.

As he head for Herrell's, Linda wonders whether all the ice cream will have been removed from Boston. That kind of night.