Due to Technical Difficulties …

And we’re back. As some readers will remember, the original intention was for At Quaquanantuck to take off the last week of the year and return with the first column of 2018 on January 4.

Unfortunately, labor-saving, high speed, high technology being what it is, At Quaquanantuck’s trusty laptop experienced wi-fi driver issues last week whilst this columnist was away in the Great North Woods of the Adirondacks (-21 below zero Fahrenheit one morning) and thus could not make use of the information superhighway and internet via my cellular hotspot to compose and post the column.

With no ethernet to connect to, the column wound up having a technologically enforced second week off. The time is not right just yet, but stay tuned for a rant on our increasing, and increasingly perilous, dependence on the “convenience” of modern technology. To restore some sense of serenity, here are a few photos from the holiday season.  

Christmas Eve 1
Christmas Eve 2017                                                                                  —A. Botsford Photo
Christmas Day 2017
Christmas Day 2017                                                                                     –A. Botsford Photo

Now that all connections and functionality have been restored, At Quaquanantuck is back and ready to jump in to the new year. But first, a quick note on language.

You Literally Heard It Here First

Journalists and actors, by dint of their professions’ requirements, are trained observers: of events, behaviors, affect, physical settings, and language. At Quaquanantuck has experience in both fields and is therefore sensitive to both dramatic and subtle changes and trends in common speech, noting which words rise in popularity and which ones might be falling out of favor.

For example, “totally,” once a common affirmation, now seems to be used only ironically. As the overuse of “awesome” declined, “amazing” rose up quickly to be overused in its place. Now, in the last two months or so, At Quaquanantuck has seen and heard the widespread adoption of the latest trending emphatic, “literally,” which adoption appears to be contagious.

It’s everywhere: in almost every recounting of events large and small, in the mouths of movie and television characters, overheard conversations, talking heads on cable news networks, students and teachers, on stage, doctors and lawyers, everywhere. At Quaquanantuck almost caught the bug: describing the fact that there were no places to park at a recent event, I had to stop myself just before saying, “There were literally no places to park.”

Skepticism is understandable, so readers are hereby challenged to see, or hear, for themselves. Just listen for it and pretty soon you’ll discover how prevalent it is. It’s quite possible that you’ll find the frequency of its usage, well, amazing.

“Venus in Fur” Opens January 11 at Quogue Community Hall

There are a lot of misconceptions about the second show of the Hampton Theatre Company’s 33rd season, “Venus in Fur.” For one thing, some people hear that it deals with domination and submission and so it must be about perversion and deviant behavior. That’s not true. As recent headlines have made abundantly clear, issues of domination and submission—and resistance—to greater and lesser degrees are shot through all too many of the interactions between the sexes. People who have seen the play, on the other hand, agree on one undeniable fact: it’s very funny.

Tristan Vaughan and Tina Jones in “Venus in Fur” at the Quogue Community Hall, January 11 to 28.  –Tom Kochie Photos

This dark comedy by David Ives that takes gender politics and issues of domination to mythic proportions opens tonight, January 11, at 7 p.m. at the Quogue Community Hall and runs through January 28.

Desperate to find an actress to play the female lead in his stage adaptation of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s ”Venus in Furs”—the novel that inspired the term “masochism“— beleaguered playwright/director Thomas Novachek auditions a vulgar, unschooled, and equally desperate actress.

Though utterly wrong for the sophisticated part, Vanda piques the playwright’s interest with her seductive talents, blunt humor and secretive manner. As the two work through the script, they blur the line between play and reality, entering into an increasingly serious game of submission and domination that only one of them can win.

In a New York Times review, Christopher Isherwood wrote that “Venus in Fur” offers “a seriously smart and very funny stage seminar on the destabilizing nature of sexual desire.” Described as a “comic free-for-all” in a Bloomberg review, the play was called “fiery, intense, and so sexy you could sweat” by the reviewer for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Venus in Fur 4
Tina Jones and Tristan Vaughan.                                                        –Tom Kochie Photo

The cast of “Venus in Fur” features one Hampton Theatre Company veteran and one actor performing for the first time with the troupe. Tristan Vaughan, playing Thomas Novachek, previously appeared with the HTC in “The Enchanted April” and “Deathtrap.” In addition to working in regional theater across the country, Tina Jones, playing Vanda, has performed on the East End at Guild Hall and Bay Street Theater.

American playwright, screenwriter, and novelist David Ives is perhaps best known for his comic one-act plays; in 1997 a review in the New York Times referred to him as the “maestro of the short form.” He has also written dramatic plays, narrative stories, and screenplays, adapted French 17th and 18th-century classical comedies, and adapted 33 musicals for New York City’s Encores! Series.

“Venus in Fur” opened Off-Broadway at the Classic Stage Company in January 2010; it  premiered on Broadway in October 2011 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club. The play transferred to the Lyceum Theatre in February 2012 for an extended run.

HTC Artistic Director Diana Marbury directs. Set design is by Sean Marbury; lighting design by Sebastian Paczynski; and costumes by Teresa Lebrun.

An additional Saturday matinee performance will be offered on January 27 during the final weekend of the production, prior to the regular 8 p.m. performance that evening. Offered by HTC in association with the Quogue Club at the Hallock House, there will also be a special lunch and theater package available for the Saturday matinee on January 27. For information on the Quogue Club matinee package, visit www.hamptontheatre.org or call 631-653-8955.

“Venus in Fur” runs at the Quogue Community Hall from January 11 to 28, with shows on Thursdays and Fridays at 7, Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 2:30. The additional matinee performance of “Venus in Fur” will be presented on Saturday, January 27, at 2:30 p.m.

To reserve tickets, visit www.hamptontheatre.org, or call OvationTix at 1-866-811-4111.

Venus banner

Another Five-Star Rating for Quogue Library

Library Journal has once again given the Quogue Library a five-star rating, the sixth consecutive year the library has received this honor. All the details may be found at this link:


Only 7,409 libraries across the U.S. qualified to be rated in the index; of these, there were only 259 three-, four- and five-Star libraries and only 85 of these earned five stars.

The Library Journal index rates U.S. public libraries based on data from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Library Journal was founded by  Melvil Dewey and remains the oldest and most prestigious journal for library professionals.

Warning Signs of Stroke

A program on “Risk Factors and Signs of Stroke” will be presented at the Quogue Library on Wednesday, January 17, from 1 to 2 p.m. Topics to be covered include: signs and symptoms of a stroke; what to do in the event of a suspected stroke; and treatment options for the different types of strokes.

Fiction Book Club Meets January 14

All are welcome to join in the conversation during the Sunday Fiction Book Club meeting at the Quogue Library on Sunday, January 14, at 12:15 p.m. The discussion will be on Mohsin Hamid’s book, “Exit West.”

A note from the library describes the book this way: “In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city.”

Call the library at 631-653-4224 to register for either of these programs.

Winter Birding at Quogue Wildlife Refuge

Aaron Virgin, vice president of Group for the East End, will lead adults and families with children ages 7 and older on a free hike through Refuge trails looking and listening for local birds of the forest on Saturday, January 13, from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Because of limited space, this free guided hike is already full, but you can call 631-653-4771 to be put on a wait list.


John deMarmon Murray

John deMarmon Murray, a longtime resident of Quogue and the brother of Bob Murray, died on January 6 at his home in San Paulo, Brazil, after a lengthy struggle with cancer. He was 82.

More details will be posted in next week’s column, along with a remembrance from Bob Murray. For now, thoughts and prayers go out to John’s family and friends.

At Quaquanantuck encourages readers to send in news and notes and photos of interest to Quogue residents, even if the items are being sent from winter addresses or other parts of the country. Friends and family who enjoy all things Quogue are encouraged to email AtQuaq@gmail.com and ask to be put on the mailing list, or just to visit AtQuaquanantuck.com and feel free to follow.

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