Enjoyment for the sake of enjoyment

Last week, we went to see my friend David Epstein’s play at the Main Stage of the Berkshire Theatre Group in Stockbridge. It was fabulous. The audience laughed and applauded, and I even received a profound thank you from the well-known artistic entrepreneur Richard Stanley because I recommended the play.

The Berkshire Eagle critic, Jeffrey Borak, gave the play an enthusiastic review in this newspaper. Interestingly, audience reaction to a play is almost never mentioned in a newspaper. In this case, the response to the comedy and the wonderful acting and directing was really comforting in a time when good art is way too often all about suffering.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to avoid “suffering” art like the plague. Look, life is not easy. There are murders and suicides, sociopaths and psychopaths and long suffering marriages. So when a wonderful play comes along, I’m happy to just sit back and enjoy it.

My favorite movie, “Mr. Roberts,” ends poignantly with the death of Mr. Roberts, but both the play and the movie are filled with extraordinary humor and joy. While Henry Fonda did not receive the Oscar he deserved for his portrayal of Roberts, Jack Lemmon did for the supporting role of Ensign Pulver. In any case, “Brace Yourself” at the Berkshire Theatre Group is not to be missed. My bet is that you will laugh and if, like me, you were raised on Fire Island and can recognize the people in the play, you might just shed a tear or two. Go see it and join the joy.

How could I write this week without making mention of U.S. Rep. Todd Akin and his disgraceful on-air comments about “legitimate rape”?

I am still shaking my head with disbelief. Even harder to comprehend is the fact that he is still competitive in his race against incumbent Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill. Are there really enough Missourians who believe this guy’s garbage?

This is dangerous for the Republicans on several levels. First, the Republicans really had counted on picking up this seat and maybe taking the United States Senate, which would have given the GOP control of both houses of Congress.

Additionally, Akin’s remarks have thrown the Republican game plan into chaos. They want to talk about jobs and Obama’s health care program. Instead, Akin makes idiotic remarks about how a woman’s body can reject pregnancy that comes from “legitimate rape.” Some little kid may believe that’s how babies are made or not made, but this is a grown man. Unbelievable.

I suspect Akin did this to excite his base. Elections are won or lost because of turnout. Maybe he just got carried away by his own rhetoric, maybe not. It really doesn’t matter. The Republican platform comes very close to the Akin position. It makes no concessions for incest or health reasons and many of America’s women are appropriately appalled.

Perhaps the Republicans thought they could sneak this plank into the party platform and they’d get away with it as they have in the past. Akin’s bombshell put the spotlight right on the convention. My bet is that there are investigators out there trying to force him out of the race. The Republicans will learn that once you let the genie out of the bottle, it is very hard to get him back in. Joe McCarthy should have taught them that.

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 8/25/12

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