Sunday, March 6, 2011

33 Variations Is A Must See

The play by Moisis Kaufman will end its Los Angeles run at the Ahmanson Theater in a couple of hours.  We saw it last night and were amazed not by the acting, necessarily, and certainly not by some of the lame jokes and contrived dialogue.  In any other play those deficits would have been enough to keep me squirming in my seat.  '33 Variations' doesn't need good acting and it doesn't even need good jokes and consistently good dialogue.  It is simply an amazing concept that carries the play through the evening.  I never lost interest.  I never stopped feeling fascinated.
The play contains three different and intensely connected stories.
The fascination of the composer Ludwig van Beethoven for a waltz composed by a guy named Diabelli. Diabelli published music and invited famous composers to submit a variation on his waltz for publication.  Beethoven couldn't stop at one variation and ultimately composed thirty-three.
A fictional musicologist, Katherine Brandt, is fascinated by Beethoven's fascination with the Diabelli waltz and -- despite the fact that she is dying from ALS -- goes to Germany to uncover the mystery of Beethoven's fascination.
Dr. Brandt's daughter, trying to rebuild or create to begin with her relationship with her mother, goes to Germany against the mother's wishes to care for her and ultimately presents her final academic paper posthumously.
Separated by centuries and emotional chasms, the three central characters appear simultaneously spanning all that divides them and ultimately defy their separations.
The play is amazing.
It didn't need Jane Fonda's name.  It was, though, nice to see an energy that would dwarf even that of the fictional Dr. Brandt.
We hope you can find a performance of this play somewhere.  If you can't find a performance, find a copy of the script and read it.  It is creative in a way that I haven't seen on the stage in years.

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