Wednesday, January 22, 2003

When I was a kid, my father had rather peculiar tastes for someone of his background (an Iowa farmer's son) and education (an electrical engineer). He introduced us to "Monty Python's Flying Circus" when I was 13, and was addicted to the original bizarre night-time soap opera black comedy: "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman."

My father also loved Ingmar Bergman films, something my brothers and I never took to. Since then, I've learned to appreciate Bergman, although I couldn't go so far as to say I've enjoyed watching Cries and Whispers and Persona and Fanny and Alexander, but I know in my bones that he's about as good as it gets.

Now, here I am living in Sweden and I can, more or less, understand Swedish and if I wanted, I could go see one of the great plays of modern times as directed by one of the greatest directors of our age in a grand theater. Which I did last night, with the husband, and A., the assistant director, and her fiancé C., the fashion photographer, and P. and E., the parents of the friends from London - a complicated bunch of initials, but a choice bunch in real life, every last one of them. It was our treat, a present. My father will be so jealous when I tell him.

The play was superb - a straightforward staging without gimmicks, meaning that the actors must carry it off themselves through brute strength of will, which they did, unmannered and thoughtful and grand.

As I've gotten old, I weep so easily at movies. And at the end of plays, apparently. How embarrassing.

The second Swedish word for the day is gengångare, which was translated as ghosts in the original translation of Ibsen's play. However, it is apparently very inexact, and there doesn't seem to be a good English word for someone-who-haunts-you, which is what everyone seemed to agree that gengångare means.

- by Francis S.

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