What's it about?
Professor Arthur Brenner has dedicated his life (all 61 years of it) to his art career. Yet, a 20 year old girl is responsible for shaking up his existence and showing him the one thing he’s never had - love. The show examines the nature of love and the high price of indecision upon a life deferred.
What'd I experience?
The professor was not what I expected. At first I found him obnoxious and just over the top. He often waddled across the stage like a penguin and spoke in some strange cross between old English and an overly philosophical hipster. Yet, somehow he stopped being a sideshow and won me over with his quirky way of dealing with love.
Even though the title is Professor Brenner, I honestly thought I'd be getting a look into some boy obsessed teenage girl diary. I was really happy to see them take this Hollywood cliche and show the man's side. Especially a 61 year old man who still lives with his (blind) mother. The fact that he lives with his mother is not as strange as it sounds once you get to know Arthur Brenner. Capable of gaining global recognition and acknowledged as a high status artist, it seemed being in love was harder then coming up with the next Mona Lisa.
Mrs. Brenner - the professor's mother - was probably the most bad ass 80 year old woman I've ever met. She may be blind, but you sure as hell can't keep anything a secret around her. Given that Brenner himself can't seem to make any life decisions, he confides in his mother and often take her advice. Which is about the smartest thing you can do when it comes to dealing with your first love. Mama sure knows best.
The story didn’t focus solely on the nature of a romantic relationship with a large age gap, but more on the way first love changes a person - even at 61. The last thing I expected was that the 20 year old art student would be the mature one in the relationship. Brenner's high school way of approaching a girl who is ready to settle down with him was ultimately his downfall. He essentially self sabotaged after deciding (sort of) to marry this girl.
His inability to carry out a decision dictated how much time he spent thinking about the negatives of getting married to a young women. He had too much time to think about the fact that her young years would be wasted on some old guy. Too much time to theorize that for her this could all be a rite of passage in some way - she might actually consider divorce. That is why this story is so cool. For once, we get to see someone who isn't 16 fall in love for the first time. Every small thing from your typical high school romance is heightened because, let's be honest, for someone over the age of 60 the 'plenty of fish in the sea' theory doesn't apply as much.
Once he finally confessed his love to Emma and says to hell with all the judgement, they finally get married. The wedding seems to run smoothly, but the reception seemed more like a roasting session for Professor Brenner. As he tries to socialize with the his wife's young friends they seem to care less and less about showing the teacher some respect. The night is filled with jokes about Brenner being unable to keep up with his wife for his first dance as a married man. And so we begin to see the cracks of a man that can simply not accept his new life.
As people around him try to reassure Arthur that he is indeed deserving on this love, he ignores it and allows pessimistic thoughts to fuel his mind as soon as he said 'I do'. Right before the show closes, Arthur mentions a story that he had recently come across in the newspaper. The unfortunate case of a man who kills himself and leaves behind a young wife to mourn.
I'd like to think that someone as inspirational and artistically passionate would find it unacceptable to take their own life, but I can't seem to forget that whether he chose to be with a younger woman or not he was still sacrificing a large part of himself. Which may be an artist's worst nightmare.