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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Five hundred, twenty mumble thousand, 600 minutes

That is actually how many people were in line last night at the Landmark in Evanston and many, many, many were jews. How do I know? Kippot galore, covered hair galores, “mazel tov’s” flying through the air, and they all tried to go to the same movie we did. Which is why we found our first and second choice movies sold out. Good Night and Good Luck–sold out. The Squid and the Whale–sold out.

So we wound up at RENT along with some of the modern orthodox we were in line with. By the third song, they’d all walked out. Really? They didn’t know it was about AIDS? Artists? Gays? Straights? Heroin? in New York City? What were they expecting?

Apparently not the movie they got, so they left, as did a few other people. I’ve never seen so many people walk out of a movie. Which is a shame, it’s is a good movie–probably better suited for stage, my butt felt the length and needed an intermission.

There were a few slips in the writing–Mark Cohen, the jewish character, mentions his bar mitzvah, the Rabbi’s daughter and high holidays, but also gets a “Merry Christmas” phone call from his parents. I know they had to let us know it was Christmas, but after thinking about it–wierd choice.

And how SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER was Benny still a yuppie after he apparently left his rich wife for Mimi? Or maybe she didn’t mind that he was seeing his ex-girlfriend. A junkie dancer with AIDS?

And is the story still relavant or will people watch it and say, “that was in 1989, we have AIDS kicked now. Nobody is in social groups where over half have AIDS?” I think they will, which is a shame, because we haven’t beat AIDS, we just slowed it down. And as people get more comfortable with it, it will probably start to rise again. But among people who won’t see themselves in the cast of RENT, they won’t related to them. They might relate to the AIDS free characters–Mark, Maureen, and JoAnne. But certainly not to the character’s with AIDS.

I don’t think it will add the fuel to the AIDS fire that people are hoping for, like it did in the mid 90’s when it came out. When AIDS was still front page news and not a call out box buried in the paper.

Is it worth seeing? Yes. But go knowing it includes sex, drugs, and rock n roll… and bad performance art.

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