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The Goat

Rapture has returned. It’s a beautiful Easter morning – rain predicted but not happening yet – and I, cosy in this bright little room. Just had a huge breakfast downstairs, smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, and surprisingly good coffee, and ended up chatting with the woman at the next table, a Brit married to an American, living near Detroit, who’s doing a lot of the same London things I am. Much discussion of “Don Juan.” And then – what are the chances? – it turned out she is taking the same Air Canada plane from Heathrow to Toronto’s Pearson on Tuesday. So my new BFF Chris and I will go out to the airport together.

It also turns out that not everything is closed today, in fact, a lot is open as usual, and much of the rest will open at noon. So much for a contemplative day walking and working. My list of possibilities is long, including the British Museum, which will be flooded, walking across the Thames on the Millennial Bridge, going to a church service nearby or to a choral evensong at St. Martin in the Fields, seeing a new movie about Emily Dickenson … stop writing and get out there, woman!

But first, last night, another play – “The Goat, or who is Sylvia?” by Edward Albee, starring Damian Lewis and Sophie Okonedo, at the Haymarket. On the way, I needed dinner and was desperate for a salad, have been living on bread, but could not face a crowded restaurant, simply had a tuna sandwich at Pret a Manger and delicious it was too. When I get home, it’s lettuce for days for me.

Walking through the West End at 7 p.m.- insane. Impossible to move, seven trillion people. So I was very relieved to get into the theatre and make my way to the impossibly elegant bar, all cream walls, delicate filigree detail, a jewel-box. Stood against the wall, took a sip of my red wine, put it down on the convenient shelf, feeling sophisticated, with it, here I am, London, in this pretty place with my glass of wine. When somehow – how? – I moved my arm and knocked the wine over, smashed the glass, splattered wine all over the beautiful cream walls, broken glass and red wine filling my purse. So much for sophisticated and with it. The nice bar lady helped me clean up and gave me another glass while I mopped at my coat, soaked in wine. Sigh.

The play is bizarre – about, yes, a man who falls deeply in love with … a goat and is having sex with her, to the horror of his loving wife and son. It’s a difficult part, balanced between anguish and comedy, and Damian Lewis is a superb actor who pulled it off. Okonedo is brilliant too, as is the rest of the cast. A fantastic production of a difficult, melodramatic play. Afterwards, you really know you’ve been at the theatre. Very glad I saw it, even if I was in the second row, looking up, practically on the stage. Great actors, these British, the best on the planet.

What joy – it started at 7.30 with no intermission, so I knew I’d be out of the West End before the rest of the theatre crowd started pouring out, a huge relief. I walked home through the mad streets, wonderful to turn right along Little Russell Street and find myself in serene Bloomsbury.

Happy camper, over and out, into the Easter streets.

P.S. My coat, luckily, the one dowsed in red wine, is a dark brown Uniqlo, and nothing shows today, not a single splatter. Miraculous. A shout out to Uniqlo and its lightweight down gear, which has made travel far, far easier. I am what the French call frileuse – always cold – and the wind in London has been bitter. But I’ve never been cold in my layers from Uniqlo, sometimes 3 at once – vest, jacket, coat. Thank God for dark brown and down.

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3 Responses to “The Goat”

  1. That Play was the worst theatrical experiences of my life. I wanted my money back — I'm kidding. But I've never ever hated being in a theatre except during that play. I saw it at the Mark Taper Forum in a lavish production. For me: Loathsome. Good for you for finding merit in it! I lost it when the son turned out to be a gay — and troubled. Way too much melodrama! Then then, the bloodied corpse of the goat makes an entrance. Oh please! A husband who loves a goat, an animal murdering wife and a gay son. It made me desperate for sunshine and laughter.

  2. beth says:

    Yes, I know what you mean, Chris – though perhaps you saw less skilful performances than I did last night. But the play, crazy and melodramatic as it is, like a Greek tragedy, shows the complete illogic of human loving – who knows who or what we will love? I remember times when I couldn't believe my own loves. So that's what I got out of it, rather than taking it too literally.

  3. That'd a great take on the play, Beth. I hated it so much I did't even parse either my reaction or the themes of the play.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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