I saw Stephen Sondheim’s Follies at the arts center in town recently. It was one of those “Live from the National Theatre in London” things–an incredible ensemble piece. I’d seen Imelda Staunton in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf back at Dartmouth last summer in one of the NT broadcasts. Her performance in Edward Albee’s play was explosive–and her portrayal of Sally Durante in this week’s Follies was full of enormous feeling and vulnerability.
I hadn’t seen the show in more than 30 years. But I performed the song Staunton sang in the show when I WAS thirty in a musical revue, which I now see was much too young. I thought about the two sets of couples in Follies and their younger versions–8 actors at the center of the show. I saw parts of my life in each of them, men and women, young and old. I recognized the desperation of love, the calculating distance of others, the hope of youth. Still, I’m too old to play the younger set and too young to play the older one.
My children are grown and my parents are still alive. I’m hovering ever so carefully in this moment in time, knowing that life will rev up again and I will have to be present for someone else soon enough. But for right now, I am enjoying the focus on myself. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been able to do that.