Saturday evening, my wife and I had a night out on the town! I took her to the Blackbird Theater in Nashville to see their production of “Magic”, the first play by G.K. Chesterton. Afterward, Andrew Peterson convened a discussion group with about 30 “Rabbit Roomers” to discuss Chesterton and the play. (A Rabbit Roomer is someone who follows The Rabbit Room, which is “a place for stories. For artists who believe in the power of old tales, tales as old as the earth itself, who find hope in them and beauty in the shadows and in the light and in the source of the light.“) It was truly a wonderful evening… and not just because it was the first time we were without the kids all night since Carrie was born!
I can’t recommend this production highly enough. The folks at the Blackbird Theater Company really put on a top-notch show. The acting, set, music (all original to this production), effects, and costumes were just right. (These pictures will give you a sense of the look of the show.) All the action takes place in a sitting room; the gallery was decorated to make the audience feel as if we were sitting right there in the room with the characters! If you go, try to get there early. Tickets are general admission, and you’re going to want to sit at one of the tables down front! For a more detailed review, check out Broadway World.
As for the play itself, it is just a lot of fun. Though it deals with some major philosophical ideas (it is Chesterton, after all), it is at times absolutely hysterical! It is amazing that a play which is almost 100 years old (Chesterton wrote it in 1913) contains humor that is just as funny today as it was then. It’s not all laughs, though. Chesterton covers the entire range of emotions in about 90 minutes, including a bit of sappy (if not-quite-believable) romance.
Whether you are able to see the play or not, you should take the time (no more than an hour, I’d think) to read it. You can get it for free for Kindle here. If, like me, you don’t have a Kindle, you can download Amazon’s Cloud Reader for free as well, which is a great way to read books and other materials on your computer without straining your eyes.
My one minor quabble with the Blackbird production of the play was the changing of the role of Hastings to a female character. One of the strengths of Chesterton’s play is the way that Patricia — the only female character in the original version — proves in the end to be perhaps the most mentally and emotionally secure person on the stage, despite the fact that the male characters have spent much of the early portion of the play belittling women as “weak-minded”. This loses a bit of its effect when Mrs. Hastings has a faint spell, seeming to play into the stereotype. Just imagine what an effect the strong female character would have had on a 1913 audience! The stereotypes in the play were representative of its time, after all.
“Magic” is playing in Nashville until August 27. If you are in the area, do your best to get tickets!
Here is the play’s trailer, to whet your appetite: