Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cleveland Public Theatre: Pandemonium

"I don't need your umbrella, that's OK, I like the rain" - No More Kings, Umbrella

"Well, I'm a horrible dancer, I ain't going to lie, but I'll be damned if that means I ain't going to try / Yeah, I'm a sh---y romancer, baby I ain't gonna lie, but I'll be damned if I ain't going to try" - The Limousines, Internet Killed the Video Star

"No time for cameras, we'll use our eyes instead, I see flashes of gold" - Matt and Kim, Cameras

So... I'm confronted with a conundrum: I had planned on attending Cleveland Public Theatre's Pandemonium with someone who I would have been meeting for the first time and who had a rather pressing personal matter come up. Despite the best efforts of myself, friends, and even a few random strangers I couldn't come up with someone to use the ticket. Thus, if I'm evaluating value at $125 per person Pandemonium was a fantastic hit; if I'm evaluating value at $250 per person, effectively what I paid,'s a bit steep.

The event, covering nearly the entire CPT campus, including parts that I had never before realized were parts of the CPT campus defies easy description: With performances ranging from stand up comedy to interpretive dance on 20-odd stages throughout the complex, mingled with food from an equally diverse selection of providers, all without being nickle-and-dimmed-- admission is truly all-inclusive.

Early in the evening I decided not to ask questions, but before we get there... I helped to build a bridge. Literally. And it may have been the single most memorable part of the night for me. As the event began it was raining, and a small river formed between the main entrance and half of the stages. Several CPT volunteers and staffers looking quite nice in their evening wear were shuttling bricks in to form a dry walkway and it seemed like it would have been most ungentlemanly of myself to not lend a hand while they were wading through the that's exactly what I did. Eventually a 8' table also appeared, and between the table and bricks we solved a problem. Boom.

Then we get to the not asking questions part: Those who know me know I'm probably one of the pickiest non-itarian eaters you'll encounter in the wild. Tonight I made a conscious effort not to ask what I was eating, or to examine it too closely: I took a small portion, tasted, and moved on. While all of the food was reasonably good, I have to say that Bourbon Bakeshop's plate was delicious: A wild mushroom risotto with dates, thyme, and toasted almonds, basil gougers, and summer vegetable compote with goat cheese was fantastic. I don't generally like mushrooms, and I've had mixed luck with vegetables and almonds but the combination was tasty, and I probably could have eaten the basil gougers (I'm still not entirely sure what a gouger actually is) all night.

Entertainment wise, I took a similar approach wandering from stage to stage without paying particular attention to the schedule. I didn't make it to all of the stages -- and the evening's entertainment was over before I could really blink -- but I saw some funny stuff (stage 20), some disturbing stuff (stage I-can't-remember), some thought provoking stuff (stage 18, The Petition Box -- a project that when I first walked in I didn't get, but reading submissions I felt compelled to add my own note to the wall).

Approaching random strangers is not something that comes easily to me but I did initiate a few conversations on my own; unfortunately none really went anywhere (One: "If I ever get married for a third time, I'm keeping it simple. I gotta pee. Nice talking to you.") and it was exceptionally difficult to tell who was with whom, but, anyway.

Once the entertainment was finished, dessert came out in the form of tables with people in the middle roving through stage 1. I've never had to chase dessert before.

Following that, I caught up with a friend from CPT who made some easy introductions and several hours of good conversation flowed. I'm glad. Taking to other humans has a distinct stress-relieving component to it.

Ok, and now I'm going to fall asleep.


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