The Unanswered Question

We had a difficult choice to make last night. Do we see the musical Hairspray, the bus & truck version that’s currently playing in Southam Hall at the NAC, or The Unanswered Question that’s playing in the Studio? After much soul-searching, we opted for the play.The Unanswered Question is an English Theatre production about Leonard Bernstein and his love triangle in the 1970’s. Lenny was torn between Felicia, his wife of 25 years, and Tom, his lover. It attempts to draw parallels between atonality and the abandoning of the tonic as the “home note” with homosexuality and the changing sexual landscape in the 20th century.The play was O.K., but for me it was missing a real dramatic moment. I also felt like we were getting hammered with the metaphor and musical examples too much, but maybe the playwright felt that was required for the non-musicians in the crowd.The play has generated a fair amount of controversy in town, including letters to the NAC and a letter to the Ottawa Citizen. What is the source of this unrest? The subject matter? Foul language? Excessive violence?No, some people are angry because each of the characters is a smoker, and at one point, all three light up at the same time. Don’t the bylaws state there shall be no smoking indoors? Shouldn’t this apply to dramatic productions as well as restaurants? I think we even had an inspector from HRSDC stop by this week to evaluate the possible impact of the smoking on staff and patrons.Sigh…

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