Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Friday, August 4, 2017

Stratford Sundries, 2017-5

City Hall
Stratford, Ontario
July 31, 2017
1. Last night we walked down to the Avon Theatre to see Treasure Island, a stage version of the Robert Louis Stevenson novel that I broke down and read a year or so ago (and loved, by the way). My first introduction to that story had been that old Disney film (the studio's first live-action film, I've recently learned)--Treasure Island (1950--I was six!), a film starring the awesome Robert Newton as Long John Silver and Bobby Driscoll as Jim Hawkins.

That film scared the hell out of me. And I loved it! (Link to a film trailer.)

Anyway, the play version we saw ...

Joyce and I both thought the first half was bad. Very bad. I was ready to leave. Gave it a chance after intermission--and was glad I did so. It became much more playful (among the characters--who also played with the audience); some of the special effects were great fun (like little boats on a string running from R to L); an "old Ben Gunn" who was, well, a young athletic woman who crawled around on ropes and drapes as if she were born among them--as if they were her element.

The play version has a frame story: modern-day Jim Hawkins, a father (the same guy later plays Silver) who tells the boy pirate stories at bedtime. The frame story returns at the end, and we learn something key about his mother, as well--and his sister, who shares a bunk bed (she's up, he's down). So it all has the texture of a dream, this version.

There was some real playfulness, too. One pirate picked up a skull and delivered Hamlet's speech about Yorick; another made a reference to the conch in Lord of the Flies; and there were others, too.

Very strong performance by Stratford veteran Juan Chioran (Dad, Silver), whom we'd already seen in two other productions this summer--Romeo and Juliet (Prince Escalus) and The Breathing Hole.

So ... lesson learned: Don't leave at the interval ...

2. Back to the room to read some Connelly and munch on some very necessary pretzels, merely, of course, for nutritional purposes.

3. This morning--off to Coffee Culture, where I finished my Kirkus book and roughed out a draft of the review on my iPad. Joyce joined me for breakfast, then it was up to Balzac's Coffee, where I read 50 more pp of the Joyce Carol Oates novel (I'll finish it tomorrow!) and talked with Joyce.  Back to the room, where I revised and filed the review with Kirkus and fussed with this very blog before lunchtime.

4. This afternoon--Twelfth Night down at the Festival Theatre. Rain in the forecast ... walk? drive?

... we walked--missed the rain again (whew!)--and saw one of the best productions of this play I've ever seen. A plain, unadorned production (no sets, very few props), simple (period) costumes. Just that amazing language delivered by amazing actors. That's all you need--though "all," of course, is a lot.

Sir Toby Belch was Geraint Wyn Davies, born, I'd say, to play the part--and Feste, the clown, one of the hardest parts in all of Shakespeare, seemed easy in the hands of veteran Brent Carver (see pic above), who handled the complicated speeches with swiftness and intelligence and wit. Dazzled me, I'll admit--and he sang beautifully, as well.

The other principals were all great, too--totally convincing. A great Malvolio (Rod Beattle), who revealed both the pathos and the pettiness of this character. I understood every single word he said. And laughed at many of them. Groaned at others.


Walked home in a haze of wonder (avoiding, again, the rain!).

5. At the York Street Kitchen, "our" sandwich shop for our post-matinee supper every night, they told us tonight that they're going to name (for a while, not forever!) the sandwich I build every night (roast turkey, etc.) the "Danwich" and will put it on their menu board tomorrow. At which time I will definitely have a pic to post here tomorrow!

See, you legions of doubters: I did achieve something in life!

6. We're about to head out to our evening performance, our first this year at the Tom Patterson Theatre. It's Bakkhai by the Greek playwright Euripides. I've not seen it before--looking forward to some good old Greek gruesomeness!

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