stratford in nine acts

Act One:
—a favourite art gallery that’s in-between exhibits. Nuts.

ACT TWO: a secret path behind said gallery that leads to stairs that lead to the Avon River.

ACT THREE: swans au naturel.

ACT FOUR: swans who’ve inadvertently walked into a trap and are now headed for their winter digs. Much hissing when nabbed, especially among the young ones who’ve never been through this before. When asked if the birds enjoy their off season indoor camping arrangement [I asked this hopefully, by the way, with several toes crossed] the handlers said… and I quote: “Nope.”
ACT FIVE: Stitch, who lost an eye to a mink last year. Seasonal shifts are child’s play to him; no hissy fits, he’s all one-eyed dignity.

The last time I ordered coffee, some many years ago, I was given a cup of regular instead of decaf and I jangled something frightening. I realize the jangle is part of coffee’s charm but I didn’t care for that “HELLLOOOO!!!! I’M AWAKE NOW!!” feeling and have been a tea girl ever since. Black, white, green, rooibos, lapacho bark, herbals, tisanes, roots, bits of old leather, anything but coffee. Hence, ACT SIX: my favourite retail establishment… more Ohm than Zing.

ACT 6-A: the colours of course.IMG_4043IMG_4044

No picture to prove this but Pazzo’s petite pizza, greens from Soiled Reputation and a perfect antipasti platter played no paltriness in the pleasure offered by Stratford’s SEVENTH act.

ACT EIGHT… the play. Mary Stuart. Wherein even the slightest facial movements by the astounding Seanna McKenna are a performance in themselves. The story—nutshell version—is about the way we divide up society and allegiances based purely on our passions [culture, religion, morals, values, aesthetics]. The playwright chose to portray this through a fictional meeting between Mary, Queen of Scots [Catholic, beautiful, all joie de vivre and super popular despite being a bit of a tart who murdered one of her three husbands] and Queen Elizabeth [Protestant, not so fun but a dedicated monarch] during which meeting Mary calls Elizabeth a bastard for her illegitimate status and [therefore] dubious right to a throne Mary reckons should be hers. Well, of course it’s never really about the throne, is it? Deeper issues lurk—deceptions, insecurities, jealousy, guilt, politics, family names, bloodlines, history… All that and more than a few good laughs. Yes, it’s true… there are moments of delicious humour. Three thumbs up.

ACT NINE: homeward. Via pumpkin patches and planes in pale purple skies.

Applause. Exit right. Fade out…

a short, sweet time in stratford

Sometimes it only takes one perfect day to re-jig and re-wire yourself, to see things in perspective again. Thing is you can never plan such a day—it just appears out of ordinary moments that turn magical for unknown reasons. Like yesterday when we played hookey and drove to Stratford with tickets for Michel Tremblay’s For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Againthe first ‘moment’ occurring when a detour in town led us to Romeo Street where we decided to stretch our legs awhile at Gallery Stratford. Co-incidentally, the main exhibit, ‘Natural History’ was about the evolution of zoos, a subject recently on my mind. One element of the installation was a two minute video of a deer and a wolf together in an empty and windowless room. Extraordinary to watch their behaviour, their eyes and breathing—so anxious are they in this unnatural space that they forget they’re prey and predator and become strangely equal in their discomfort. In another area are framed photos of animals in various North American zoos, their cages essentially ’empty rooms’ but for the jungle murals, or fake rocks, which may make the audience perceive the space as much more tolerable but (we can assume) does squat for the animals.

After that we went downtown and browsed Inuit art, stopped by Rocky Mountain Chocolate to inhale, visited the tea place (which could surely convert the staunchest coffee drinker) for supplies to re-fill our larder with lapacho bark, peach flavoured oolong, powdered rooibos and the various assams that Peter fancies.  Then on to lunch at Woolfy’s where the staff was delightful, the wine list excellent and well priced, and the Lake Erie perch crispy battered, delicate, and served with a delicious homemade ketchup. I’m not even going to mention dessert…

Finally, the play—a complete joy (but when is Tremblay not?). The premise being the playwright’s memory of his mother—a wildly passionate woman, dominant, loud, gossiping, yet loving and nurturing, who is also a master storyteller.

When, after 90 minutes (no intermission), it ended, I was stunned and horrified. Surely this was a mistake, it couldn’t be the end. Not like that. There must be an intermission.

But the lights came on and the actors took their bows. Ridiculous, I thought. Everything had been so brilliant up until then, every word, gesture, I wanted it to go on another hour at least, maybe two.

As we filed out of the theatre I seriously thought of writing Tremblay and pointing out his shocking error in judgment. Cher Monsieur Tremblay: Tout etait tres bon, sauf… I would begin. Then use google translate from there. Shuffling toward the exit, I was just getting to the part where I’d offer up my suggestions to improve the ending… when I suddenly understood.

I won’t spoil things with details but let’s just say if you leave feeling like it’s all over too quickly—yeah, it is. And that’s just the point.

Good things are always over too quickly.

However, if we’re lucky, and paying attention, sometimes those bits of  ‘magic’ linger, just long enough to change us a tiny bit for the better.

tout etait bon indeed.