A play, a birthday, a football game -- 02/04/08
We went up to Providence on Saturday night to see TrinityRep's production of Richard III. We also happen to like eating at Trinity Brewhouse -- a pub style restaurant (just a block from the theatre) that brews its own beer, very delicious beer and serves tasty pub style food (fish & chips, pizza, etc.) We used to get fish & chips there (after all, it is a brew pub) but have now become addicted to a couple of their pizza specials -- Nancy loves their Veggie Margherita pizza ("fresh mozzarella, bell peppers, tomato, broccoli, drizzled with basil pesto and our house five cheese blend" and I go for the Carnivore Pizza Special ("sausage, Buffalo chicken, pepperoni, and bacon with our pizza sauce and 5 cheeses").

Then Jeremy told us he had to see a play as an assignment for a course he is taking so we invited him to join us to see Richard III and I called up and ordered an extra ticket (Nancy & I have season subscriptions to TrinityRep). Then we were talking about the next day being Nancy's birthday and decided to invite Jill (and Eli) to join us for dinner and Richard III... so I called TrinityRep again and got two more tickets.

We set out early on Saturday night in order to leave lots of time for any contingencies. We ran into a traffic backlog on route 4 where the highway department had closed two of the three north bound lanes (why? who knows? Those lanes did not appear to be ripped up but, although there were trucks with flashing lights parked there, there were no signs of any actual work going on.) -- the biggest problem with it (as I came to know too well over the years I had to commute to the office in Middletown and they would be working on one of the bridges) is that Rhode Island drivers appear unable to understand the concept of an alternate merge. If, for example, you have two lanes and the left lane needs to merge into the right lane, some drivers in the left lane will begin merging right about half a mile from the actual lane blockage, others will merge right at various points along that half mile, and some will wait until the very last minute. The result, instead of a steady and even flow of traffic where drivers from each lane take turns, is a traffic jam as the right lane comes to a halt because at any given moment there are several drivers from the left merging into the right lane at several different points, all at the same time.... and then some drivers in the right lane will move over into the left lane and dart ahead and then squeeze in eight or ten car positions ahead of where they were (which then slows the right lane even more. (They apply the same lack of thought in the voting booth. Want proof? Just look at the state legislature.)

But that only cost us fifteen minutes or so and we had given ourselves a larger margin than that... Got to Providence, parked in the parking garage next to the theatre (we had bought discounted parking passes along with our season subscription) and split up -- It's not even 6:15 and we are going to an 8 o'clock performance -- Jeremy and Nancy going to the restaurant to get a place in line waiting for a table (one of the reasons we wanted to be sure we were early... they don't take advanced reservations) while Jill & Eli came with me to pick up tickets at the box office "will call" counter (thus avoiding any possible lines later on. We got the tickets and stepped outside to find Nancy and Jeremy -- the brew pub was packed with a lot of people and a very long wait. Something must be going on at "The Dunk" (the nickname for the Providence's concert center/indoor sports arena) -- ah, yes, basketball -- the Providence College Friars (NCAA Division I -- Big East Conference) -- they play at The Dunk because they attract larger crowds than they can accommodate on campus -- so there were thousands of basketball fans around. (And, obviously, too many of them were having dinner before the game.)

We asked the theatre box office staff if they could make a quick suggestion of a nearby restaurant. One of them knew that a nearby restaurant was very busy but suggested one just two blocks down the street. We walked down there. They might have one free about 8 p.m. Back up the street to another restaurant. Okay, back up Washington Street, past the theatre, and across the street. I ask how long before they might have a table for five available. He laughs. "About an hour and a half." Someone suggested a relatively new restaurant nearby, over a new Starbucks. Okay, I'll cut this short, you get the idea... all of the restaurants in the area appear to be very busy -- so lets walk a couple of blocks further and go to the Providence Place Mall and eat in one of the street level restaurants like maybe Uno/Chicago Grill.. that was a good idea except... yes, you guessed it, they have an estimated hour and a half wait for a table.

So we ended up riding the escalators up to the top level and going to the food court in the mall -- which was packed -- and squeezed the five of us into a table for four that we grabbed when we saw the people seated there beginning to leave... Nancy and Jeremy got pizza slices and Jill, Eli, and I got subs from Subway.. and then we hustled to get back to the theatre.

It was a very fast-paced and accessible production. The director cleverly started with a few brief scenes from Henry VI Part 3 to familiarize the audience with historical background leading up the point where Shakespeare began Richard III. The play was on a multilevel abstract set, broken sheets of concrete with the actors either in military garb or business suits and carrying rifles and pistols rather than swords (although, as you might expect, there were a number of knives in use). It was violent and bloody (perhaps a bit too much stage blood was spilled, although I am perhaps being a nit-picker here) and all very well done with a strong cast from Richard down to the minor characters. Trinity has great depth in its acting company and the Shakespearean language came across as clear and understandable.

Then home for birthday cake and singing Happy Birthday to Nancy.

Jill had made the cake -- a two level carrot cake with cream cheese based frosting. The picture on the right is a close-up of her decorating the cake. (Yes, she is pretty good at that... and is self-taught.)

We are going to have to get the kids and go out to eat on some other night, go to one of the local restaurants that we all like.

And then there was Sunday...

Patriots vs. Giants in the Super Bowl.

Nancy never used to care about football, but somehow in recent years she has become a fan of the New England Patriots.

On the right, the front page of this morning's Providence Journal: A Giant Letdown
The New England Patriots -- undefeated through the entire season.

As the front page of the Sports section of the Providence Journal notes -- 18 wins and no losses, setting 42 NFL records for best this and most that -- and then came the Super Bowl and One Big Loss

Ah well, it was a good game, far more interesting than some Super Bowl contests have been.

And there's always next year...

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