It's taken 10 years, but it sometimes actually feels like a community. Unlike my fellow critic, Jeff Hudson, I don't have the gift of schmooze and I don't go up and introduce myself to people, even though I know who they are. But since we've been commuting together for shows, I've kind of learned who some of the other critics are and they have learned who I am, thanks to Jeff.
Tonight was opening night for the latest play at Capitol Stage, perhaps my favorite theatre to review. It's small and intimate, kind of funky because it's on a riverboat, and I get lots of information to help put together a review. Besides, they almost always do some play I've never seen before. Casts are small and always quite good. I don't remember how many years I've been reviewing this company. I had to kind of talk Derrick into letting me review there. Space in the newspaper is scarce and so there has to be a good reason and a Davis tie-in. Fortunately, the artistic director, Peter Mohrmann (a delightful guy) lives in Davis, so that's our connection, though I have long-ago stopped mentioning in every review that Peter is from Davis!
Tonight Jeff and I parked in the old Sacramento parking lot. Old Sacramento is a state historic park which was made a tourist attraction in the 1960s. All of the buildings date from the 19th century and have been restored to approximate what the area might have looked like during the gold rush.
This part of town sits right by the river and is host to the California State Railroad Museum and then in the river sits the Delta King, an old paddle wheeler, which is a hotel, restaurant and theater. Two theaters, actually. Capital Stage has one of them and they do mystery plays in the other (I've never gone to one of those)
Friday night is usually pretty crowded in Old Sacramento, a place replete with restaurants, museums, and souvenir shops. By the time Jeff and I arrived, the only place to park was on the 5th (top) floor of the garage. As we were getting out of the car, Jeff greeted the guys in the car next to us, one of whom was Greg Coffin, the author of several plays I have seen performed at Sacramento Theatre company, and introduced me.
The four of us walked along the wooden boardwalk toward the Delta King, comparing notes on A Chorus Line, which we had all seen earlier in the week. I love chatting with theatre people.
As we approached the Delta King, Jeff said "Oh there are Kel and Patty," two reviewers for the Sacramento News and Review, where Jeff works sometimes too. Kel was reviewing tonight, and Patty had just come along to see the show. The four of us continued the walk to the boat, still chatting about A Chorus Line, all pretty much in agreement that it was old and tired, even with the dazzling finale (the last sentence of my review had been "Dance 10, Relevance 3")
We were greeted by one of the guys who runs the theatre who laughed that we had arrived en masse and we asked him if there were going to be any "real" people there or if they had just filled the place with critics.
I recognized other critics in the audience, including Marcus Crowder, of the Sacramento Bee (who doesn't know me from Adam) and an old guy who I think writes reviews for some shopping news up in the Sierra foothills. There were also unfamiliar faces, recognized as critics because they, too, had the packet of information about the show that we get when we are given our tickets.
There were also Sarita and her wife Kym, who are subscribers and whom we have known for a while. It's always fun to run into them there.
I dunno. It was just fun to be one of the regulars, to recognize people, to be accepted into the community of critics, to speak the same language and to compare notes after the play.
The play, BTW, was called Hunter Gatherers by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, which some reviewers have said was like "Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf" meets "Survivor." A very funny play with a 4-person cast which included Marta's good friend, the immensely talented Katie Rubin. Her performance did not disappoint.
Jeff and I said goodbye to Kel and Patty after the show at the elevator up from the boat (they walked up the stairs, I took the elevator) and we drove home again. We were both pretty tired and I am now killing time letting the puppies run around and get tired so I can finally lock them in their cage and go to sleep myself!