Lithe Lithgow

I don’t see my mother enough, so finding “outings” is a great way to pen in an appointment. Tickets in my hand force that same hand to find a sitter, to juggle a calendar, to find cute shoes, and to get out into the world with my sweet mom.
At nearly curtain time, I stumbled across the announcement that John Lithgow was to appear at a community college in the City.
What was he going to do? I didn’t care; his act made no difference. If he wished to sit and fart for two hours, I’d be proud to watch.
John Lithgow has been ubiquitous to my personal entertainment. From Garp to 3rd Rock to the most recent, The Crown, I’ve watched this man portray larger than life characters effortlessly.
I only drew the line at Mr. Lithgow as Bad Guys. I staunchly refused to watch his skill in a Bad Guy role. (Why? I blame Mary Tyler Moore. That’s a much different story; we’ll discuss later.)
Knowing my ridiculously tender psyche cannot handle stress, I have avoided all movies with Mr. Lithgow as the Bad Guy, mostly because I know he is an exceptional actor and would convince me so fully that I’d have a much taller Mrs. Tyler-Moore on my hands.
Not knowing what to expect with an evening with Mr. Lithgow, my mother and I pranced into the theatre ready for anything.
What we saw were two acts, each with Mr. Lithgow, alone, in the near dark of a spotlit stage, telling a single story, but not just telling it: living it. Employing every molecule in his six-plus-foot frame, he created a scene using invisible props that seemed just as real as the paper ticket I unconsciously twisted in my hand while I watched, mesmerized.
After a quick intermission, Act 2 began with Mr. Lithgow describing a scene: his parents, each ill, and sad, and worn out, laying in separate beds in the same room, and their son, desperately reaching for an infusion of hope, deciding to tell them a story. After years of being the child recipient of tales spoken into reality, he could return the favor by using the curative powers of P.G. Wodehouse nonsense to bring life into his parents, even if only for an hour.
Glasses settled onto his nose, his legs crossed, comfortable within the depths of a  high-backed leather chair, Mr. Lithgow opened an ancient volume of “Tellers of Tales,” and began reading his chosen tale. Within a couple of minutes, the book was set aside and to my utter joy, Mr. Lithgow acted out every nuance of the hilarious story of a guileless uncle soaking life’s every moment into his bones to walk within his own Utopia.
Seven people — and a parrot — inhabited the stage, each character distinguished by a particular affectation Mr. Lithgow bestowed upon him or her, and through a series of high steps and fluttering hands and the use of a suit coat and a cocked head to seem more avian, our audience gleefully sat and watched as though the story was breath itself.
And near the end, glasses back in place, book in hand again as though it had never left his fingers, Mr. Lithgow re-settled into his chair, leaned forward, and said, “Goodnight, Mother. Goodnight, Dad. I hope you’re feeling better.”
Instant tears! (On my part, not his.)
Ovation! (From everyone, not just me.)
More tears! (Again, all mine, though I probably wasn’t alone. Theatre etiquette prevents the inspection of other faces to determine proper appreciation of a dramatic moment. I think that’s written somewhere.)
And it was over. Two hours of existing in another world, Mr. Lithgow’s head.
Mr. Lithgow’s head is a beautiful place to be.


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