Posts Tagged ‘Cambridge’

Beer Reviews: Cambridge Brewing Company Sgt. Pepper

Beer: Sgt. Pepper
BrewerCambridge Brewing Company
Source: 22 oz, bottle
Rating: **** (8.1 of 10)
Comments:  Spicy and unique, this beer pours out golden with effervescence and a thin head.  The scent is spicy & yeasty and the flavor is a peppercorn spice balanced with a caramel malt.  I found it went well with a vegetable soup and quesadillas.

 

Beer Review: CBC Spring Training IPA

Beer:  Spring Training IPA
Brewer: Cambridge Brewing Company
Source: Draft
Rating:  ** (6.9 of 10)
Comments: A hazy, golden-colored beer is defined by lots of carbonation and a thick, big-bubbled head.  There’s a grassy bitter aroma and a taste of strong floral hops.  Even after quaffing for a while, the head is still going strong leaving behind some lacing.  Play ball!

Crack Goes the Charles!

20140311-172741.jpg

The 43rd Annual Christmas Revels

This afternoon, my wife, son, and good family friend Craig took in the  performance of The Christmas Revels at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge. The annual pageant of music, dance, storytelling, and drama focused this year on the pilgrimage along the Camino de Compostela in the Spanish region of Galicia.  As a Celtic culture, the Galicians have their own version of the bagpipe called the gaita which featured prominently. Any piece featuring gaita and drums was a highlight for me.  The largest drum resonated throughout the house.

The story of this Revels follows Everyman (portrayed by Jay O’Callahan) on his pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella and onwards to the End of the Earth in Finisterre.  Elements of Don Quixote are woven into the story as Everyman is knighted and joined on his journey by squire Sancho (Billy Meleady, who starred in last year’s show) and the tavern keeper Angélica (the delightful Angélica Aragón).

Usually the theme of a Revels’ performance is an excuse to tie together song and dance numbers, but this story of a pilgrimage actually maintains a pretty continuous narrative built around set pieces along the Camino, in a tavern, at a monastery, at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, and finally at Finisterre.  The sets and lighting are really remarkable in adapting the stage for the different places along the journey.

Highlights of the show include:

  • the talent and hard work of the Revels’ children whose performance more than ever is fully-integrated into the show.
  • the charming line dance when the pilgrims are greeted by the monks to the tune of “Alborada de Ourense.”
  • O’Callahan telling the story of “The Singing Sack.”
  • sing-a-long with choreography to “Fum, Fum, Fum.”
  • puppetry and lights to enact the Galacian version of the posadas ritual.
  • an amazing bit of stagecraft where a giant censer is swung like a pendulum over the performers on the stage (based on the Botafumeiro at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
  • Jaime Jaffe’s solo performance of “Ondas Do Mar De Vigo.”
  • a mummers play featuring a mustachioed dragon who performed the hammiest death throes.

There were some disappointments.  Jay O’Callahan was hard to understand and I’m not sure if he was mumbling or mic’ed improperly.  Sitting in balcony center meant it took a long time to get downstairs to participate in “The Lord of the Dance.”  It ended just as we reached the lobby.  While I would not rank this among my all time favorite Revels’ performances, it was still delightful and I recommend seeing it if you have the chance. There are four more performances before the show closes on December 27th, so get your tickets now!

The Boston Globe has a more-detailed review for your perusal.

Related posts:

Book Review: The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

Author: Claire Messud
TitleThe Woman Upstairs
Publication Info: 2013: Books on Tape
ISBN: 9780307913630
Summary/Review:

Messud’s “Woman Upstairs” is her take on the character without an identity such as Ellison’s Invisible Man or The Mad Woman in the Attic, but in this case the nice woman who no one takes notice of.   Nora is a school teacher who takes an obsession with the family of one of her pupils who are only in the country for a year.  She ends up babysitting the boy, starting an art studio with his mother, and developing a romantic attraction for the father on long walks together.  Messud makes her narrator Nora extremely unappealing in her self-absorption, and unreliable in her idealization of the Shahid family.    There’s also a sense that the Shahid’s are taking advantage of Nora the whole time.  There are some interesting internal narratives of a woman’s place in modern society and as the book is set in Cambridge, MA, some good local color.  I’m not sure I’m convinced by the conclusion, which is somewhat predictable, but I don’t get the sense that it is as life changing as Nora claims it to be.

Recommended books:
Rating: ** 1/2

Book Review: Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

Author: Geraldine Brooks
TitleCaleb’s Crossing 
Publication Info: [Ashland, Or.] : Blackstone Audio, 2011.
ISBN9781441790200
Summary/Review:

This engaging novel set in 17th Massachusetts, primarily Martha’s Vineyard and Cambridge, is the recollections of a Puritan woman Bethia Mayfield regarding the life of a Wampanoag she befriends as a child who takes the name Caleb.  The language of the narrative carries the flavor of language of a colonial American woman although at times a modern, feminist view appears in the narrative.  The novel is full of heartbreak and loss, but still there’s a great amount of nobility in Caleb as he adapts to English and Christian ways.  The culture and religion of the English and native are frequently compared with the later given a grudging respect.  Both the woman and the Wampanoag are subservient in this society and this historical fiction is a great attempt at telling their hidden stories.

Recommended books:  The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper, Black Robe by Brian Moore, Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick, The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell, and A Mercy by Toni Morrison.
Rating: ***

Beer Review: Cambridge Brewing Company Heather Ale

Beer :Heather Ale
BrewerCambridge Brewing Company 
Source: 22 oz, bottle
Rating: *** (7.3 of 10)
Comments: This is a unique beer that channels ancient styles with herbal additions to the brewing process.  The beer is a hazy, amber looking a bit thin at the bottom.  The nose smells of flowers and honey with a hint of spice.  The taste is an intriguing balance of spicy and sweet with a dry finish.  This beer is a lovely tingle on the tongue and I’d like to try it again.

 

The 42nd Annual Christmas Revels

It would not be Christmas without the Christmas Revels at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge.  This year my wife, son and I joined by our friends Abby, Kim, & Sid took in the Winter Solstice performance on the evening of December 21st.  The show was delightful as always with the subject being near and dear to my heart, the music of Irish emigrants as they sail the new world.

The show was a more restrained and simple performance than a typical Revels keeping to the theme of the cast being impoverished immigrants aboard a ship and not having much to celebrate with.  After the opening number, lines and gangways were removed from the sides of the stage and notably no cast members went down the steps into “the ocean” except during a storytelling sequence.  These restraints did nothing to detract from the beauty of the song, dance, and stories performed.

Highlights of the show for me included:

  • Bill Meleady’s colorful telling of The Soul Cages, the exception to the restraint on the performance where the visuals of the story come to life in vivid detail.  I enjoyed the dancing crustaceans especially as well as Steve Barkhimer’s portrayal of the merrow Coomara.
  • “The Wexford Lullaby” gorgeously performed by Mary Casey along with Jamie Jaffe as a duet and later as a quartet.
  • The dramatic “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” swelling as the audience joins the chorus.
  • “The Lord of the Dance” is always a highlight and was cleverly worked into the show as being the English ship crews’ contribution to the shipboard celebration.
  • The show had several sets of traditional Irish music by The Rattling Brogues and step dance by O’Shea-Chaplin Academy of Irish Dance that livened up the proceedings greatly.
  • If there was one minor disappointment is that the show ends with the immigrants seeing The Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.  The show is set aboard the Cunard steamship RMS Carpathia and since Cunard had a western terminus in Boston (there’s still an office building marked “CUNARD” on State Street) it would have been a nice local connection to have the ship dock here instead of New York.

A traditional element of the Revels – “The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance” – was not included in the program but as this was the Winter Solstice, the audience was treated to a special rendition of Abbots Bromley after the curtain call.  I’d actually guessed that Abbots Bromley was the surprise we’d been promised before the show, but it was still a thrill when the first haunting notes of the recorder came out and the audience reacted with joy.

This was another great Revels and I believe all the shows were sold out.  If you missed this year’s Revels, make sure to get your tickets early for next year’s show which I promise will be just as great.

Related posts:

Beer Review: CBC Amber

Beer: Cambridge Amber
Brewer: Cambridge Brewing Company
Source: Draft
Rating: *** (7.0 of 10)
Comments:   This beer features a dark copper/brown color with a thin head.  The scent is faint and grainy while the taste is nutty and yeasty with a clean finish.  Sporadic lacing covers the inside of the glass.  This is an enjoyable local brew.

Beer Review: Cambridge Brewing Co. Sgt. Pepper

Beer: Sgt. Pepper Saison / Farmhouse Ale
Brewer: Cambridge Brewing Co.
Source:  22 oz. bottles
Rating: *** (7.8 of 10)
Comments: The beer is a nice cloudy copper with lots of bubbles and a foamy head. The smell and taste stand out as the peppercorns give the beer a spiciness that is unique.  It also has fruity, citrus flavors and a pleasantly spicy aftertaste.  It’s good to have something different.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 984 other followers

%d bloggers like this: