June 27, 2009

PhoeNixWatch: Another year, another splendid performance...from the Grey Lady herself:
The Almeida Theatre in North London, meanwhile, is boasting the finest new play seen at that address since its artistic director, Michael Attenborough, took over the running of the Islington playhouse in 2003. Consumed with climate change, love and loss, and the ways in which coincidence can make over our lives, “When the Rain Stops Falling” also inadvertently acts as a structural primer for the return to the London stage this week of “Arcadia.”To a degree exceeding Mr. Stoppard’s 1993 masterwork, the Australian writer Andrew Bovell’s comparably mournful play shuttles swiftly between time periods and continents to offer up a wounding theatrical mosaic that tells of two families — one in England, the other in Australia — across four generations and 80 years, from 1959 to 2039. (The production runs through July 4.)


Among a finely calibrated ensemble, acting honors surely go to Phoebe Nicholls as the older version of the solitary Elizabeth, who must bid farewell first to a husband, then a son. “If you touch me, I will break,” she remarks calmly to the Australia-bound Gabriel, nursing a glass of her preferred red wine. As Ms. Nicholls speaks the line, you fully believe in a fragility that is one step away from finally going snap.
Which reminds me of a point made this week by Matt Welch over at the Reason blog, concerning the passing this week of the King of Pop. Riffing off of an old Bill James piece on the age of Phil Niekro, Welch notes:
Even more so than his fellow '58ers Madonna and Prince, Michael Jackson had a long and bizarre relationship with age. He was old enough to be in the public eye for more than four decades, young enough to live in a children's zoo. He recorded his first number-one single just two months after man first walked on the moon, yet sang like a castrato and surrounded himself with tweens. Young enough to have never developed a beer gut, old enough to have a decline phase lasting a full quarter-century. So just how old was Michael Jackson?

Michael Jackson was older than Appalachian wanderluster Mark Sanford, older than beloved Slate columnist Eliot Spitzer, and older than the 44th president of the United States. He was older than silver-haired Congressman Mike Pence, silver-bearded Nespresso pitchman George Clooney, and silver-tongued trial lawyer Erin Brockovich. Remember John Kennedy, Jr., the George magazine publisher who died in a plane crash 10 years ago? He was younger than Michael Jackson. As are Magic Johnson, Tai Babilonia, and Stan Van Gundy.
Perhaps Welch's child-like obsession with whether state government spending is exceeding the inflation rate caused him to miss other examples (as well as falsely id'ing Ms. Brockovich as a "trial lawyer"). Did you know Michael Jackson was older than Nadia Comenici? Diego Maradona? John Elway? Isiah Thomas? Gary Lineker? Wayne Gretsky? Marcus Allen? And don't get me started on Dan Marino or John McEnroe....

Joan Jett and Shawn Cassidy are of more recent vintage than the Moonwalking One. So is Welch's favorite journalist, award-winning columnist Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times. Had Kurt Cobain or Princess Diana lived to see the sunset last night, they still would have been younger than Jacko. Michael Jackson was older than Mr. Blonde, Michael Madsen, as well as Nuke LaLoosh himself, Tim Robbins.

David Remnick, the Editor in Chief of the New Yorker, is younger than Michael Jackson. So are Brian Williams, Anderson Cooper, and Shepherd Smith. Same with the hosts of Meet the Press and This Week. So is Sarah Palin, and likely next-PM David Cameron.

However, Phoebe Nicholls is, was, and forever shall be, older than Michael Jackson.

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