20 July 2009

Culture vultures

…a marriage of true minds… - Shakepeare, Sonnet #116

It has taken quite a while, but life is slowly getting back to normal, or rather back to what passes for ‘normal’ here in Barford.  I have finally made my way back to the gym, though I have rather resolutely reduced my workout regime.

 My focus these days is on swimming and the steam room. Eva has no regrets about this shift in perspective, as a very happy accident has prompted a halt in her more stenuous athletic pursuits. My change of heart, for the time being, I am unashamed to say, is driven by pure laziness and utter self-indulgence!

The usual suspects were in force upon my return to the gym, all happy to see me, and keen to share gossip, and hear details about my nuptials, honeymoon and etc. I was flattered to find that our wedding was still “the talk” of Barford, and features heavily in the current gossip mill:

“Is it true that when you arrived at the Machado on your wedding night, the stairway, entire room and bed was covered in rose petals?”-  asked Jackie #1.

“I heard that your D.E.B. hired a professional comedian for his Best Man. Is he available for Quiz Nights and other sorts of parties? -  wondered Jackie # 2.

I could but laugh! The rose petals were true, that my new brother-in-law (a.k.a.,“The Guru”) is a professional comic is not true, though it should be! He was an amazing Best man and deserves every rumour that is flying around about him. His Best Man’s speech was written completely in verse! He’s a genius.

Entertainment does seem to be top of our list these days. The D.E.B and I seem to be dashing about like mad from one cultural engagement to the next. And we quite like it that way. My freelance gig with the Shakespeare Trust has the lovely bonus of the garnering often-hard to come by theatre tickets.

(And sometimes, one or two freebies, like tickets for last weekend’s staged-reading of Shakespeare’s poems, “Venus & Adonis” and “The Rape of Lucrece,” performed by Michael Maloney and the legendary Janet Suzman!)

We have had the good fortune to see most of the current season at the RSC: Julius Caesar and The Winter’s Tale. We are holding out for Trust tickets to see the new As You Like It. Our close proximity to the epicentre of the Shakespeare universe is not something I take lightly. It is a dream come true to live so close to this theatrical mecca. 

Oh, and of course, there is always London... 

London Coliseum

The D.E.B. and I have spent the last two weekends in London, where we saw Jude Law as Hamlet – yes, I know! And, Waiting for Godot with Sir Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart at the Haymarket Theatre.

Yes, Jude Law was GORGEOUS, but more importantly he was FABULOUS as Hamlet. I was pleased to discover that Jude, I feel I can call him that, far from being just a pretty face (!!!), and an excellent screen actor, he is a tremendously talented live performer on stage. For some, this statement may seem obvious, but trust me when I say, not every screen actor can cut it in front of live audience on stage. There are no ‘re-takes’ or ‘do-overs’ in theatre. That is what makes it so magic for those of us who live it and love it.

(I was naughty and took a picture of Jude Law during his curtain call!)

Sadly, Patrick Stewart was out sick when we saw Godot, though his poor understudy did a heroic job standing in. Talk about the worse job in the universe. 

Sir Ian and 'the Understudy'

Can you imagine? The poor guy is going on stage KNOWING that no one in the audience wants him to be there! Apart from maybe his mother…

In addition to seeing theatre, the D.E.B. and I recently found ourselves roped into doing theatre. Our beloved actress-friend, Sally, asked me to assist her in developing a one-woman show about The Countess of Warwick.

Sally is such a sweetheart, and so when she asked for my help as a writer and stage director, I could not say “No.” Even though, I would like to think that my days of “voluntary artistic endeavours” and doing art for love instead of money, are long over.  So, I did the only sensible thing a girl could do, I roped the D.E.B. into providing the music for the play. 

Sally, as "Darling Daisy"

Our show, “Darling Daisy: Reflections of the Countess of Warwick” was a labour of love all-round. There were no creature comforts, very little outside support, and we were wholly at the mercy of English weather. But, if I’m honest, it was quite enjoyable.

There is something about the theatre that is magic. When the people involved come to it with sincerity, conviction and professionalism, no matter the circumstances, the magic does happen.

Sally has acted her way around the globe, and watching her perform is always a gift. She did a reading at our wedding, and that too, was a remarkable moment that I will always cherish.

We first saw Sally performing in a charity pantomime in Leamington Spa this past Christmas. She was “The Wicked Witch,” and she was great! Her performance was the icing on the cake for me, and it was my first-ever English “panto” experience.

I loved how the actors and audience interacted with one another: hissing and booing the wicked characters, cheering and supporting the goodies; warning the goodies of the dangers befalling them, i.e., “Look out, she’s behind you!”

There was also singing and dancing, which the audience was invited to join in. It was like no other theatre I have ever seen. It is interesting to me that somehow, we Americans have lost—did we ever have?—the panto tradition.

The D.E.B. & I have also supported the work of a local, semi-professional theatre company in Leamington Spa called The Loft. We saw their recent production of Hobson’s Choice, which as it turns out was directed by an old acquaintance of mine. (The Theatre world is so small, you can’t afford to talk about anyone!)

Leamington Spa seems to have become quite a hub for us just lately. We saw the film The Reader at The Royal Spa Centre – that was an adventure. The night we went to see The Reader, we got to Leamington very early, and decided to take a stroll through the Jephson Gardens. (Leamington Spa’s answer to Central Park.)

The Jephson Gardens were so beautiful and romantic, the D.E.B. and I lost track of the time, and then…We got locked in! In the end, after failing to find an accessible escape route, we had to climb very carefully over the iron-wrought fence. We giggled all the way back to the cinema like a pair of naughty school-kids.

I have no doubt said before how much I utterly adore my D.E.B., but I just need to state it here again.  Perhaps, there is some girl out there, who (like me not so long ago) who’s on the brink of giving up, thinking she’ll never find Mr. Right-For-Her. To her, and for her, I have this to say: Don’t give up! He’s out there! And he’ll be worth the wait!

Many moons ago, in my life before I found my D.E.B., I was in a relationship with a very un-D.E.B. who once admonished me with the following advice:

“Look,” he said, “what you want doesn’t exist. You are never going to find someone who really appreciates you, understands what you do, sees things the way you do, likes the same things you like, and so on. That just doesn’t happen.” Basically, the subtext of that tirade was this: Take what you can get, this is as good as it gets. Period.

How utterly wrong he was! (And how foolish I was to have believed him for so long.)

On our wedding day, my Darling English Boy stood before our assembled family and friends and as part of his speech, recited (from memory) the following lines from As You Like It:

“No sooner had [we] met but we looked, no sooner looked but [we] loved, no sooner loved but [we] sighed, no sooner sighed but [we] asked one another the reason, no sooner the reason but [we] sought the remedy; and in these degrees have [we] made a pair of stairs to marriage, which [we] will climb.”

This, my friends, is a 'marriage of true minds.'

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