Thursday, November 12, my long-time friend Karen, who lives in New York City, emails me that Michael Viktor Butler is premiering a play called Polina (poh-LEE-nah) the next evening and that she’s coming up to see it. In Albany. About three and a half blocks from my house, at the Madison Theatre, primarily, but not solely, a movie house.
Michael and I know each other very peripherally, but he, who was a friend of one of Karen’s older siblings, became a muse to Karen, as he ran the experimental television in Binghamton in the mid-1970s, before returning to NYC himself, and she’s kept in touch with him.
I had no idea about this production until I perused this description on the movie theater’s website:
In This sensational scorcher, adapted from Butler’s novella of the same name, will be presented in the tradition of 19th Century Grand Guignol theater, complete with live salon orchestra and spectacular special effects. The title role is played by Madame Irene McMahon. Butler assumes all other parts, spectacularly interpreted in Delstarte Technique.
Polina also featured puppet master Erica Johnson.
Then I read Amy Biancolli’s preview about it in the Times Union, where Michael explains that Polina, “literally… steps out of paintings to snack on the man-parts of virgins… But nothing is graphic. Everything is inferred…”
Walking to the Madison Friday, I just happened to see Karen disembark from her car. And we and a couple of her friends she knows from a local radio station sat together.
Briefly: Polina really is a dark comedy. The first act’s too long, and the second much too short, but it’s the first production, so one discovers these things. Also, there were a few technical glitches, but nothing major.
Something I did not remember is that Michael Butler was living in my area, presently about six blocks from my house. We became reacquainted, and I got to see Karen for the first time since my birthday in March.