This day is as blessed as they get – it’s 22 degrees out there! Mid-autumn with the trees in full glory, but so warm, people are out in tank tops. Not for long, but for today.
So much to tell so will be brief – I’ve seen two great pieces of theatre and one meh. Heroes of the Fourth Turning, at Crow’s Theatre, and Frankenstein Revived at Stratford – could not be more different, and both brilliant. Heroes very wordy – a reunion at the religious Wyoming college they attended seven years ago of young very right-wing Catholics and their mentor. They talk about their faith, where they are now in their lives, about left-wing “baby murderers” and the wonders of Steve Bannon. The older woman is an old school conservative who hates differently: Communists and Obama. There were moments as I watched this superb production that I thought I’d have to rush home and shower, so loathsome did I find their POV. But that was the point – these are human beings who believe they’re right and we’re wrong and are trying to live good lives, but they suffer and doubt and struggle, as do we. I never meet people like that, but I did on Wednesday, and felt my tiny mind expand. Glad, however, to cycle home and leave them behind.
Frankenstein, written and directed by old friend Morris Panych and designed by his longtime partner Ken MacDonald, is stupendous, told entirely in powerful movement, dance, and music, no words at all. Morris puts Mary Shelley front and centre, writing, developing her plot, as the action weaves around her. The creature is unbearably ugly and pathetic, with the most moving moment at the end: desperate for love but rejected by everyone except a blind man, he reaches for the one person who loves him, his creator Mary Shelley, and they hold each other for a moment. And then he dies. Beautiful. The audience at the matinee was full of high school kids and I was dreading the noise, but they were spellbound – not a peep.
Unfortunately, the evening was a great disappointment – Les Belles Soeurs, a play from the sixties by Michel Tremblay. I saw it in its first production in joual, unforgettable, the audience hearing their own Quebecois language on stage for the first time. The joy and pride in the theatre was palpable. But the play has not aged well; its unhappy working class women bitching at each other grow tiresome, not amusing as they once were, and the creative team made a number of huge mistakes, the first being putting this play in the giant Festival Theatre with its thrust stage. For a play where a bunch of women mostly sit at a table talking, that meant they were yammering upstage half the time and incomprehensible. There were many different styles of acting, including straight out stand up comedy, completely out of place. A dated play, badly directed. We left at intermission.
But not a problem, Monique and I got to walk back to my friend Big Anna’s where we were staying along the Avon River with a nearly full moon above. Stratford is a lovely town. I went to my favourite store, Rheo Thompson Chocolates, for a half pound box of my favourite dark chocolate treats that should last me a week or two. This morning, brunch with beloved Lani, one of my oldest friends who lives in nearby Ingersoll. Both she and her husband Maurice have serious health issues, but Lani still spends a great deal of time taking care of friends. A good good soul. I brought her books and some clothes for Maurice, and she brought me, as she always does, a pound of aged Ontario cheddar.
It was so beautiful out when we got home, impossible to stay inside so I walked around the ‘hood, including the Necropolis, where again, I saw gravestones couples erected for their dead babies and toddlers, one who lost three young ones on one side of the stone and two on the other, and the second who lost young Thomas, Cyrus, and George. Could not be more grateful for the health of our children in this day and age, on this sweet, mild day.
I know countless others, in this day and age, are not so lucky.
Speaking of which: before the age of twenty-five, Mary Shelley had four children and a miscarriage that almost killed her. Only one of her children, Percy Florence, survived to adulthood and outlived her.
The first shot right outside Big Anna’s house, the second from the car window as Monique drove home, the last two from the Necropolis Cemetery.