This is the modern legacy of the avant-garde music: the desertion of artistic customs that had developed over generations, the constant need for radical innovation and separation from historical precedent.
Each song made the messiness of what it means to be my age OK. Every time I’d become infatuated with the wrong person, every inevitable end of a relationship, every night that ended in a failed quest for belonging — it was all OK.
As I pass through the doors of Martha Cook Residence Hall at the University of Michigan, I enter a hallway clad in wooden panels whose austerity of color and design evokes past eras. Brightly lit by ostentatious chandeliers and archaic windows, the space draws the eye to the Venus de Milo statue situated at the end of the hallway. To the left, near the windows, there’s a table that displays silver platters with perfectly manicured pyramids of cucumber sandwiches and chocolate pastries. The sound of laughter and the clinking of glasses echoes through the main floor.
The play opens on a judge sitting with a gavel behind a makeshift bench calling to his bailiff. At first glance, this is a standard courtroom drama. After the opening lines, however, the impression is broken — this is not a legal court, but a quasi-religious court of judgment in which lawyers and a judge deliberate over the guilt or innocence of Judas Iscariot. This was last week’s Department of Musical Theatre production of “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” a dark, humorous and thought-provoking production full of modern cultural references and absurd juxtapositions.