Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 is a musical based on a 70 page section of War & Peace that was written by mad genius and man-who-is-definitely-a-bear-magicked-to-look-like-a-man Dave Malloy. It’s a wondrous, eclectic, maddening, and beautiful work of art that I would never have seen if my friends hadn’t become obsessed with it and invited me along to New York with them over one weekend in the summer to see it. I am, as I often am when these things happen, so glad that I said yes.
I’d heard the music for the show from proximity with the people who loved it, and I thought it was fine. Interesting. Exposition-y. There are lyrics that appear to be stage directions, and after seeing it I learned that there are also stage directions that appear to be lyrics. The action is set in 19th century Russia (we write letters, we write letters), but it maintains a 21st century storytelling sensibility and draws from the full history of music and spectacle. I don’t want to spoil everything, lest you might some day be able to see it for yourself, but I do need to tell you that there’s an 80s techno party breakdown in the middle that I was not expecting and it TOOK MY BREATH AWAY. What can I say? I’m into the shiny, blinky shit.
Whatever you think this show is, it’s probably that and eight other things Malloy found in his pockets. And I love it. I mean, JUST LISTEN TO THIS.
Many of my friends love it, and we were all distraught when we heard that the broadway run was closing, leaving a pirogi and decadence shaped hole in our lives. So we did what any normal theater nerds would do when the fire was raining down, we threw a party! It was a costume party. We made souvenirs and listened to the show and sang along.
One of my favorite things about seeing the show live was the costumes. I’m a huge fan of both anachronism and context, so when the company members came into the cheap seats wearing 80s punk vests created by the costume designer I was taken with them immediately. Of course, when we decided to have a costume party I had to take the excuse to make a ridiculous 80s punk vest for myself.
I put this together by cutting the sleeves from a button up shirt and dissecting several t-shirts I no longer wear, but had been saving for a special occasion, most prominently an old Amanda Palmer shirt a say Say Anything 19th century style shirt that I’ve had for ages. I imagine the character who wears this vest is running from the ghosts of the abusive men she murdered. But hey, aren’t we all?