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2000.12.25 =>

the oxford book of english verse

So last night we went to see the other Phantom of the Opera. My family bought the tickets under the assumption that it was the show by Andrew Lloyd Webber, whom I dislike, but this show was worse. I admit that I'm biased because musicals are incompatible with my blood type, and the first act really wasn't too bad, but after intermission the show just took a nosedive. Problems included:

-The phantom was given "realistic psychological characterization," meaning that he spouts inane one-liners and exchanges banter with this old guy who periodically comes downstairs and addresses him as "Eric." Since the actor was kind of doofy anyway, this makes for a very non-threatening phantom.

-One of the songs is an ill-conceived musical setting of William Blake's "The Little Black Boy" which is taken out of context without explanation, so that when the phantom sings

My mother bore me in the southern wild,
And I am black, but O, my soul is white!

we're supposed to take it like metaphorically.

-Toward the end of the show, in a move that surprises no one, the old guy turns out to be Eric's father. He left his son down in the catacombs because the mother, who wasn't the old guy's wife but some other singer, ran away when she was discovered the old guy was married and lived in the catacombs for a while until one day in the marketplace where she bought herbs from a Gypsy woman and drank them, causing the old guy (who at this point was still a young guy) to shout "Noooo!" and follow her down to the catacombs, where she eventually gave birth to a disfigured child, who might have been disfigured because of the herbs, but this is uncertain because it's never made clear if the herbs were supposed to be for an abortion or painkillers or what, and there's a lot of praying to the Virgin Mary but it doesn't do much good because mother and son keep living in the catacombs until the son is eight or so, at which point the mother dies and the son just sort of carries on down there and the old guy periodically comes down the stairs to visit. Or something like that; this was all explained in a confused flashback sequence.

-The father/son recognition scene results in the most excruciating of many excruciating songs. Soon afterward, for no apparent reason, the phantom climbs a rope, swings around and gets shot.

Victor Borge (1909-2000).

How to avoid a hangover.


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