Under pressure
Archived Articles 19 May 2009 Justin PetroneEWR
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My daughter and I got two seats to see Queen: the Doors of Time, a musical jukebox ballet based on the work of the British rock group.

Headlined by Broadway star Tony Vincent (Rent, Jesus Christ Superstar), the show opened at the Vanemuine Theater in Tartu tonight. I had no idea what to expect, but I was entertained by the ladies in conical braziers and gentlemen in G-strings. The music was excellent, I felt as if Brian May was in the orchestra pit. The choreography was good too.

We were a bit late, so we sat in the seats in the aisle reserved for the ushers. My daughter asked me important questions, such as "Are those dancers boys or girls?" and I tried to answer them to the best of my ability. After intermission, we made our way to our proper seats. And then I saw someone who looked familiar. Too familiar. Why, I swore I had seen his face before somewhere, on multiple occasions. And when he sat down beside us, I realized I knew the identity of our fellow theatergoer: it was Andrus Ansip, prime minister of Estonia, captain of the ship of state.

He was there like me with his family, and I decided not to whisper any suggestions on how better to run the country in his ear. Instead, I respected his privacy. But as Tony Vincent et al. began their resurrection of the Queen songbook, I began to wonder how Prime Minister Ansip might relate to the band's lyrics.

Take "Under Pressure." The current coalition government is running into the kinds of problems that result when social democrats and liberals try to deal with labor laws. To cut spending or raise taxes? That is the question. Things are so bad that Ansip's Reform Party is prepared to talk with the People's Union to cut the Sotsid out of the equation. In other words, Ansip is under pressure, the kind of pressure that burns a building down. It's terror of knowing what this world is about, of watching some good friends screaming, 'Let me out.'

Ansip is straining from his troubled relationship with Finance Minister Ivari Padar. He feels so tied down he even authored a 'private' letter that went public expressing his dissatisfaction with Padar's suggestions. Ansip, you see, wants to break free. He yearns to be free from the Sots' lies. They're so self-satisfied, anyway; he doesn't need them. He's got to break free.

I felt guilty stitching together what I had read in the papers with the man sitting beside me. Who was I to use Queen's lyrics to set his political life to music? I decided to revert my attention to the singers and dancers on stage, and to making sure that my daughter didn't accidentally sneeze on the prime minister and cause some kind of international incident. And so I ignored the prime minister for the rest of the show, even when we stomped our feet and clapped our hands to "We Will Rock You."

I wondered how many other people like me had ignored him in the past. I wondered if a prime minister of Estonia could ever return to civilian life and start up conversations with strangers in dark theaters watching men and women in G-strings writhe on the stage floor to songs with titles like "Innuendo." At that moment, to me, Ansip was like an invisible man. It was almost as if I could see right through him.

(Itching for Eestimaa, http://palun.blogspot.com/, laupäev 16. mai)
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