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The Pequod
Dr Alistair Brown | Associate lecturer in English Literature; researching video games and literature

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New Essay

Through exploring the psychopathology of Capgras syndrome, in which a patient mistakes a loved one for an imposter, The Echo Maker offers a sustained meditation on the ways in which we project our own problems onto other people. As a reflection on the mysteries of consciousness, the novel offers some interesting if not especially new insights into the fuzzy boundaries between scientific and literary interpretations of the mind. Read more

West Side Story

Friday, January 29, 2010

In the evening, we go to see a student production of A West Side Story. As this is the second time I have seen it, I pay as much attention to Bernstein's music as to the action on stage, and am struck by just how complex a score it is - so much so that it might almost stand alone. Although I love the Lloyd Webber musicals, against Bernstein one realises that whereas the former's are very much pieces to sing along to - almost karaoke - the latter is music to listen to, with the libretto (can a musical have a libretto, or is that only for high opera?) being a secondary consideration. One hears this most obviously with the Maria song, where Maria is repeated over and over on a rising note, until it blurs into the echo: "marry her."

That I pay attention to the music is not to say, though, that the performance on stage is not interesting. For a student production...but why the qualification? By any standard, this is an excellent production. The choreography is great, and impressively the cast manage to sing in convincing "New Yoik" and Spanish accents. The only let down is Tony, who is (as I overhear an audience member behind say) a bit wet behind the ears, a kind of foppish Hugh Grant who could no more convincingly woo Maria in a night than Homer Simpson negotiate world peace. Maria herself, though, is a revelation. Out of a diminuitive girl comes a powerful voice. The old man in front is literally moved to tears. Maria. Maria, Maria, Maria.

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Posted by Alistair at 9:06 pm


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