Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Play's the Thing

Yesterday we celebrated the long weekend by going to Carnation (a small town in the Cascade foothills) to watch our son and grandson perform in a take-off on Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor. The weather was supposed to be typical: cloudy with possible showers and in the high 60's in temperature. Well, indeed there were clouds, but they moved right along and what we got was a lot of sun. Imagine! Sun, in eastern Washington in July! Who ever heard of such a thing?

Fortunately, the play started late in the day, so we were not too afraid of sunburn. We sat on folding chairs behind some hay bales which were, I suppose, seats for the Groundlings, although in Shakespeare's day, the Groundlings stood for the whole performance. Yesterdays Groundlings were quite young, and in the end found the bales uncomfortable, but for awhile there they sat in a small row to wait.

They did end up watching the whole performance, although they moved to sit on the ground where they could loll better. We sat through the sound check, and apparently the guys running sound thought it was a rock concert in a 30,000 seat venue, because they left it very loud. Too loud, in some cases. The cast was wearing teensy flesh-colored microphones that could not be seen from the audience, and they weren't really used to them yet, so sometimes a head was turned away and the sound dropped off. They did need the mikes, though, because the road behind the stage was quite well-traveled, as it was a main north-south route between freeways.

Here we are, waiting. That's my son Matt on the left, and my son Jeremy (in costume) on the right, on the hay bale quaffing a coke. Husband Morrie is the one in the Aussie hat, and my blue shirt is saving my place while I run around taking pictures of everything textural in sight. I am on a texture kick, and there were some great paper birches and some neat rocks in the little park next to the lot where the stage was.

Time for the play finally arrived, and it was quite a romp.

The play loosely followed the plot and some of the language of Shakespeare, but with lots of modern touches. The cast was obviously having a wonderful time, and Falstaff's machinations to woo the wives and win the gold of the richer citizens in town were fun to watch. The costumes were minimal, but effective, and everyone played his or her part with gusto. Poor Bardalph was cut from the play, and one of Falstaff's cohorts made much of looking for him throughout the proceedings--without ever finding him, of course. There was a prop boy who looked to be no more than six or seven, who performed his duties perfectly and unobtrusively. The one scenic element was a table that stood throughout the play and became variously a pub, a writing desk, and whatever was necessary to the houses of the Wives. Oh, wait--there was also an oak tree, toward the end of the play--also quite effective.

There were no programs, so I can't give credit where credit is due to the actors I don't know, but I must say they all performed their parts well. Page was positively brilliant with his two kinds of accent, and Jeremy, who played the Doctor, managed his outrageous French accent without a hitch.

All in all, it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon. We followed it up with a family dinner at a Chinese restaurant, and we managed to consume almost every dish down to the plate.

Here are a couple of pictures of the performance of Windsor's Merry Wives:

Jeremy as the Doctor, with Mistress Quickly and the Prop Boy.

Grandson Kevin, left, and the Pages, with the Oak Tree in the background. Kevin's character has just married the Page's daughter.

Everything is sorted out, and all end's happily for everyone.

Happy Fourth of July!  Nan

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