Had an amazing day in NYC today. We walked endlessly, photographing architecture and odd window displays, consuming epic amounts of cappuccino, admiring a city we once called home. Late in the afternoon we passed a large poster for Through a Glass Darkly in front of the Atlantic Theatre on E.4th — this is the Ingmar Bergman play featured in last weekend’s Times staring the Oscar-nominated young actress Carey Mulligan. We immediately bought tickets for the evening’s performance. Five minutes before the show started, Peter Sarsgaard, her co-star from An Education sat in the seat next to us. We politely pretended not to notice.
The four person, intermission-free play drives wildly through family discord, ego, and mental illness. Not easy stuff, but beautiful in its own way. Mulligan’s performance in particular had such virtuosity. It’s hard to describe the intensity of her acting, from laughter to vitriol to tears to silence in one short sequence. Had it been music, it would have been like watching Keith Jarrett at Koln. Truly inspiring stuff. At the end, Sarsgaard lept up into an ovation, as did we–which we would have done without prompting. Strangely the audience at large did not seem to agree. No encores and most remained seated during the bows. The house lights were up two minutes after it ended. I simply don’t understand how anyone could have been left unfazed by this performance. Perhaps it was just too much. I left invigorated and buzzing from the acting. I suppose others may have been overwhelmed by the heaviness of it all.
By the way, as we were filing out, Steph touched Sarsgaard on the shoulder and said “you’re a very talented actor.” It was sweet and the sort of thing only she could get away with. He smiled then disappeared into the wings to wait for Mulligan.