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Wile and guile and trumpery - Qualified Perceptions
Wile and guile and trumpery
I went with [personal profile] tirinian last night to see Barnum (Moonbox Productions, at the Calderwood).   It was well done - the singers are strong, the acting exuberant, Barnum and Charity have very nice chemistry, the clowns/dancers are very nice. 

Barnum is the first musical I ever really imprinted on.  I think it's that I read a review of a performance in DC when I was in high school, and bought the record?   I know all the words, my sister and I can sing the brick song together...  but I'd never actually seen it before.    In one of the last songs, when Bailey is trying to convince the now-tired Barnum to team up with him in the song of "Join the Circus", once Barnum is convinced, he says "All right, damn it, why don't we leave it to the fates?  Heads it's yes, tails it's no" and flips a coin.   That moment has always appalled me - I've never even been a believer in the trick of "flip a coin and while it's in the air, notice which one you are hoping comes up."    But - in the show, it's a coin that has appeared before, and the audience knows it's two-headed. It just hasn't appeared in a song before, so I never knew. 

But, alas, the middle Black and White section - that feels so very different now.  I did always feel a little bit bad for the people who work at the clockwork that Barnum runs into the ground.   But the election, oh, the election.   He tries to run as a facts-based candidate - talking about suffrage and budgets and the need for taxes... and he is too boring.  He is losing.   "You gotta let me bring some color into this campaign or they’ll beat me."    So he brings color in, goes back to being the Prince of Humbug and Flimflam, and he wins.  Ouch. 

It's not the same as the Suck Fairy, which sometimes visits books you read as a kid and magically turns them awful when you read them again.  (There is a whole section of the internet devoted to people rediscovering Piers Anthony that way.)    The art isn't any different, but the world has changed.  
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