1. We're back in the room after our morning visits to two different coffee shops. We're inordinately thrilled today because housekeeping has already been here ... a relief for spoiled tourists (housekeeping didn't come till early afternoon our first several days). I did only the "usual" this morning, but as I grow older, I find myself ever more grateful to be able to write such a clause--I did only the usual this morning ... It's a gift, isn't it, being able to do what you want to do? But a gift with a return and/or expiration date on it, a date we can't quite read but we know perfectly well is there. Most of our lives--if we're lucky--we ignore it.
Anyway, I read my Kirkus quota, wrote my doggerel for tomorrow, sucked good coffee, ate a maple-pecan scone I'd baked at home and sneaked into the shop. (I know exactly what the ingredients are in mine; I'm never sure about the ones I'm buying in a shop. We can always find an excuse to do what we want, right?) Chatted with Joyce, who's about to finish reading her book--J. D. Salinger: The Escape Artist.
In our room we're about ready to have what our little-boy son used to called a "tiny lunch" before heading out to see a Noël Coward show I've never seen--Hay Fever. A little yogurt-and-fruit parfait we bought at the coffee shop + a slice of bread (my sourdough, from home). Ymmmmm ...
Thursday, 5:45 p.m.
2. We both really enjoyed Hay Fever--a brisk (under two hours) comedy about an eccentric family of four, each of whom, without the others' knowledge, invites a guest to spend the weekend at their home in the country. (The "children," man and woman, are twenty-somethings.) Coward was young when he wrote this, but he already knew how to entertain an audience. There are no profound depths--just lots of family bickering (can't we just get along?) and some scenes about the difficulty of conversations with people whom you don't know very well.
A very moving moment as we were leaving ... As I walked up the aisle (the Avon Theater is an old-fashioned proscenium type--looking almost like a movie theater--but decorated ornately), I saw, several rows ahead, a very old man, seated, but determined now to get to his feet. With the help of his cane--and his wife beside him--he finally managed it, and as I passed him, I smiled and thought, Now, that is love. I could almost hear his mind speak during his struggle: I am going to stand! And he did. I thought, as well: In the present we can see the future. But, of course, it's a future no one really wants to see.
|Avon Theater, Stratford|
Thursday, 10 p.m.
3. Nearly a disaster this evening: I decided to give our tickets a last-minute check before we walked over to see Mother Courage--and when I did so, I realized we were not seeing Mother Courage tonight at the Tom Patterson Theater but a chamber production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at a different venue in town--the Masonic Hall (see photo at right). Whew. Got to the right location at the right time and saw--from the front row!--a wonderful reading of the play by director Peter Sellars (see photo at left), long known for his reinterpretations/re-visions of the classics--from theater to opera. The play was in a Masonic Lodge, with its tiny proscenium stage, no scenery at all, no real costumes, no props. Four people (two men, two women) played all the parts in this interpretation played not for the humor but for all the darkness in the play--the betrayals, the practical jokes, love's cruelties. It was amazing. (There are scenes in that play that have bothered me for a long time--things that we laugh at ... but why?) Sellars found it all in a 105-minute production (no intermission) that featured four fine performers, including a young man, Dion Johnstone (shown in the foreground below), whose work we've liked for quite a while. I'll never see that play again in the same way ... and we will be seeing it again in a more traditional production tomorrow (Friday) night.