None the Wiser

It’s clear that Tim Blake Nelson sincerely loves Socrates.

You may know Nelson as an actor from his turns in Coen Brothers works like the impossibly sympathetic and goofy Delmar in O Brother Where Art Thou, freaking out about his buddy being turned into a frog. Or, more recently, you may have seen him as the cheery and violent gunslinging “songbird” Buster Scruggs on Netflix. Now he’s written a play, Socrates, currently running at the Public Theater in New York, about the second-most salient self-sacrifice in human history. It’s poignantly set and incredibly cast, conjuring a world of Plato and Aristotle and Aristophanes that’s engrossing. It’s full of love, and it’s full of rage.

Double Trouble From The Bard

The only real stumble in Shakespeare Theatre Company’s gleeful dancing on the line production of The Comedy of Errors is a prolonged, easily eight full seconds, flatulatory audio effect. The fart, which would be a juvenile epic poem if delivered by an actor bodily, is merely deflating when played on stereo. It’s a pity the outburst doesn’t work—the idea is in the text and the show’s a riot. But the overstep is in the execution.

Power and Responsibility

Reuben drove six hours to see Jordan Peterson. He brought his mother. It’s his birthday present.

Reuben, “like the sandwich”—”or the patriarch,” I say, prompting a laugh of agreement—just finished his freshman year at a small Christian college. He’s maybe a bit above average height, thin, with an open, intelligent face. He has a mop of curly hair and is wearing a sensible plaid shirt. He’s studying something combining bits of business and engineering.

The Rough Seas of Fortune

“Oh! We’re in a whale,” said my friend as we walked into the theater to see David Catlin’s adaptation of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

The stage is set with a white skeletal structure that suggests the great ribcage and jawbones of the massive sea monster, with us inside. From the time we start, we are an audience of Jonahs, waiting for deliverance in the dark belly.