Menocchio was very disappointing last night. It raised some very interesting questions about the relationship between faith and questioning, free speech and social responsibility, intelligence and wisdom, etc. ... but in the end it seemed to espouse the message that the authority figures (e.g., the Roman Catholic Church, our war-mongering President, etc.) really do know what's best for us, and that those who think for themselves and feel compelled to speak their minds only end up unintentionally hurting those around them and endangering the very fabric of society.
My primary reason for disliking the play, I must admit, was that the main character (named, rather obviously, Menocchio) was a 16th-century miller who went around philosophizing about stuff that was veeeerrrrrry dangerous to discuss at that time (especially anything that questioned the doctrines of the Catholic Church), but he did it in an utterly moronic way. He seemed intent on ignoring the world as it is, and instead behaving as if the world were as it should be. Instead of acknowledging that he was doing something risky, he ranted continually that there was nothing wrong with what he was doing. Also, he questioned the dogma passed down to him by the Church, but blindly accepted everything he read in his contraband books, without question.
So he was one of my pet peeve characters: the foolish smart person. The opposite of the wise fool. It was painful (or at least annoying) to watch.
I couldn't help contrasting this play with Bertolt Brecht's The Life of Galileo, which we saw at Berkeley Rep last year. That play approached the same subject matter, but did it with a brilliant complexity that kept me thinking for days afterward. I highly recommend that play, if you have the chance to see it performed by a good company.
So far this season, Berkeley Rep is 0 for 2. The first play of the season, "The House of Blue Leaves", was one of my least enjoyable theatre-going experiences to date. And I've seen a lot of plays, so that's saying something. I can only hope the season will get better. The next play we'll be seeing is an adaptation of Salman Rushdie's "Haroun and the Sea of Stories", which is one of my favorite books. I'm somewhat apprehensive to see what they've done with it, but still hopeful.
I'm feeling a bit down again today. Nothing like a few weeks ago, but still not as balanced as I've been in the past several days. Perhaps it's just the influence of last night's disappointment at the theatre. I don't know. I should go eat something, maybe read some Ranma to cheer myself up.