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a visit to Stratford

And now for something completely different: Stratford, in the Ontario countryside. It’s especially lovely to be here after time in NYC. As I left the Festival stage Thursday night after seeing the musical Chicago, I thought, if I’d seen the show in New York, I’d be battling my way through Times Square right now. Instead, walking home through the soft sweet air, I crossed the William Hutt bridge and stood watching the red half-moon reflected in the Avon River. 

Ruth, Merrijoy, and I got the Stratford Direct bus on Thursday morning and saw The Miser that afternoon, an updated, jokey production that to me undercut Moliere’s vicious satire about stinginess and greed. But as almost always here, fantastic production values and acting, rapturously received. These extraordinary women then got the bus back. Merrijoy is 94; she’s always chic and her hair is the same vibrant red it has always been. Ruth is a mere 83. They’re as always an inspiration. 

I went to the home of my friends Anna and Tom, who stay with me when they come to Toronto. Anna was a film producer and Tom’s a painter and sculptor; they sold their house in Toronto and bought a place here, big and bright with a separate two-story studio for Tom. Best of all, it’s a short walk to the theatres. That night, I saw Chicago. Again, fabulous production values, but short on depth. I wondered if the management have decided to bring people back to the festival by keeping everything light. When I go to the theatre I’m looking for nourishment and meaning, not just entertainment. But many are not. 

Next day I spent the morning wandering Stratford’s downtown and saw a matinee of Richard III, a superb production of a difficult play, full of complicated details about the lines of succession to the British throne – very current – and how many people Richard has to kill in order to become king. It was in the gorgeous new Tom Patterson Theatre. The actors, most of them in the company for years, know just how to deliver those lines, that poetry, so that we hear and (mostly) understand. A treat. 

A word about the actor Colm Feore, who starred in both The Miser and Richard – he’s technically flawless but there’s something missing at the heart. Mark Rylance is the best actor I’ve ever watched on stage; as he works, we feel we’re seeing his soul. With Colm, we see his craft, but there’s no soul, no vulnerability. IMHO.

More good news: I got an email from a student telling me she wants to register for my U of T course but it’s full. I thought, there’s been a mistake. The class doesn’t start for over a month, it can’t be full already. But it is.

Today, going to hear Adam Gopnik speak about Molière, lunch and a walkabout with my dear friend Lani who lives in nearby Ingersoll, the bus back. Refreshed, stuffed with culture – with lots of dark chocolate from the famous Rheo Thompson chocolate store in my bag.

Click to enlarge. In the gardens outside the Festival Theatre

The famous thrust stage

The Avon River

Walking home after Chicago, not Times Square, but this: the red half moon reflected in the river – photo like a Turner canvas, no? 

the elegant new Tom Patterson Theatre

the weather was sublime

I took Anna and Tom for Mexican food last night. Tom in a contemplative moment. 

I realized why NYC is so hard for me. I’m addicted to light and sun, which can be hard to come by in a metropolis. No lack of these things here – at least, in the middle of a glorious September.



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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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