Just back from a marvellous overnight visit to Stratford. My beloved friends Lani and Maurice are selling their Stratford house and moving 40 k. away to another small town. I’ve stayed many times with them, drinking beer and talking in their garden, seeing plays, and best of all, snuggling with Bourbon, the most beautiful dog in the world. No more – at least, in Stratford.
So I took the Festival bus – a fantastic addition to our lives, a luxury bus that costs $25 round trip direct from downtown Toronto to the Festival – for a last visit to Lani’s. She had been given comps by her – our – friend Martha Henry to see her production of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” in the afternoon, and in the evening I went to the musical “A Chorus Line, ” which I’ve seen twice already through the years but love so much. This morning, Lani and I went to the Stratford Farmer’s Market, full of fresh deliciousness, and then I went to the matinee of “Rebellion,” the first part of the “Breath of Kings” compilation from Shakespeare’s Henry plays. At 5, the play ended, the bus was at the door, we sailed through the corn and soybean fields, and despite the chaos of Caribana downtown, I was home by 7.30. Amazing.
Stratford is a miracle – this plump little farming community with a world-class theatre. Here’s the big Festival stage and the trumpeters that signal that the show is starting soon:
And today, when I walked out at the intermission from the Tom Patterson Theatre, this is what I saw just across the street:
The shows were terrific – talk about showing off the breadth of the place’s talent, a three-act Greek tragedy by a modern American playwright, a big Broadway hoofer musical and a complicated blend of Shakespeare’s history plays ending with a big sword fight. Flaws in all, not perfect – a theatre friend on the bus back complained about the Festival’s thrust stage and the Patterson Theatre’s stage in the round, which means the actors are constantly twirling about so all sides can see. But cavils aside, the place is something to be truly proud of. I stood by the river at intermission, listening to two American visitors try to figure out who Henry Bolingbroke’s sons were.
Home, to find that my weekend newspapers had been stolen off my front porch. Ah well.
Before I left, I harvested a bit from the garden. My gift for Lani, who eats almost no vegetables – one of my garden’s first cucumbers.